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Is Our Future President Part of a Cult?

24 Oct

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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5 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Politics, Religion

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Is Our Future President Part of a Cult?

  1. K.R.Morris

    October 25, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Growing up in a heavily populated mormon community, I would totally agree that people who choose to believe in mormonism are good people. They are some of the nicest people I know and are great people to have as friends. I just have to agree with Mark Driscoll on this one though. They would have to get rid of the entire book of mormon for one. There theology is based on a false prophet. Second, the mormon church is very controlling, to the point of controlling individuals finances for the benefit of the mormon church (socialism?). Most mormons don’t even know what they believe and the leaders of there church like to keep it that way ( I also understand that most christians are bad at knowing what they believe as well, but I have yet to meet a mormon who knows more about mormonism than I do).

    I know when we think of cults, we all think about the poison in the kool aid and group suicide. I don’t think we can limit a cult to just those things. Not all cults have leaders that are insane and stupid people following them. In my opinion, mormonism is a cult. Some of the reasons are above and there are many more that I could add. Mormons are very kind and loving individuals and have the right to believe whatever they want. They can claim they believe in Jesus Christ but the Jesus Christ that I believe in doesn’t have a brother named Satan. I know most mormons will say they don’t believe this either but that just proves one of many times they changed there own doctrine. These loving people are being fooled everyday and manipulated by very smart people who are making lots of money off of a fake religion or cult. Again, this is my opinion so agree or disagree.

    Now when it comes down to voting for a mormon for president, I cant get myself to do it. I think my explanation for that is clear in the above statements. He may be a nice guy, but I cant vote for a man that believes in false prophecy and a made up story.

     
  2. James

    October 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I hear what you’re saying but have problems with it. You’re judging Mormonism based on what you believe it’s supposed to be. You made the statement that you have yet to meet a Mormon that knows as much about Mormonism as you do. Is there a chance that the “Mormonism” that you know about is a Mormonism that no good Mormon would ascribe to. If that’s the case, then you need to throw you’re conception of Mormonism out the window and start to look at what those actual Mormons, actually believe. That’s what I’m trying to get at here.

    As Christians, we’ve sat in Sunday school classrooms and been taught what Mormons believe, and what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, and what Catholics believe and so on and so on. And yet most times when I encounter these people they don’t believe what the Christian Sunday School teacher told me that they believe. I think it’s very possible that we have misunderstood them and that they’ve misunderstood us. The more that we as Christians label them as a cult, the more the walls get put up that prohibit intellectual conversation and debate. I think it’s time for us as Christians to quit asking Christian professors and textbooks what others believe, and go ask the others to get it first hand.

    As far as Romney is concerned, I still haven’t looked at him enough to make a decision on how I’ll vote but in theory, if they guy is a good politician and leader, but believes that Joseph Smith was God’s prophet and that Satan is Jesus brother, I could care less. I’d have a problem with him teaching my daughters Sunday School class but but to be honest, the belief that Satan is Jesus brother or that Joseph Smith is God’s prophet, will not adversely affect this mans politics.

     
  3. Micah

    November 19, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    James,

    About two years ago I was leading my own mormon ministry. I met a young mormon man in a class and we realized we had the same interests in rock climbing. Soon enough I was climbing every weekend with him and his mormon friends. This was a direct answer to prayer. Eventually Tyler and I (the one I met in class) became close enough to have comfortable spiritual conversations about our faiths. I learned some things about mormonism but nothing really seemed different from what I learned from my research. Tyler told me that Jesus is not God and that he didn’t understand saved by grace through faith.

    Now I can’t say every single mormon believe this theology, but I can tell you that according to my research, personal relationships, and the Book of Mormon, the mormon church does support this theology. A long time ago a decently popular guy wrote this down..”Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist-denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:22-23.

    According to what the bible says, I agree with White’s definition of a cult- “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.”

     
    • James

      November 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      Micah,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I totally agree with you that there are Mormons that believe in a different Jesus than I do. I think though that many Christians categorize and stick many Mormons into a box that they don’t fit in. That’s I guess the force that drove me to write this blog. I wish that more Christians approached Mormons (and jews, muslims, atheists, etc…) the way that you have. Genuine care, a listening ear, and an understanding heart will go a long way. But in order to do this Christians have to get close. You can’t stand at a distance and throw rocks while claiming to truly understand the people and ideas that you are combating. You have to get in close and uncomfortable. You have to rock climb, work, and live with people of different faiths and philosophies. It’s uncomfortable, and it feels weird at first, but in the end we (Christians and whoever else) will hopefully understand each other better and be able to have more productive relationships with those of other faiths.

       

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