A Form of Godliness
Vol: 73 Issue: 31 Wednesday, October 31, 2007
One of the big issues in this years presidential campaign, particularly for Christians, is the fact that one of the presumptive Republican front-runners is a devout Mormon.
There is considerable debate as to whether or not that even makes Mitt Romney a Christian, let alone stand as an example of his devotion to the Gospel.
I ve gotten several emails on the subject, including one this morning asking me to categorically say whether or not Mitt Romney is a Christian.
I don t want to disappoint anyone, but I d be less than honest if I said I knew.
Salvation is predicated on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and not on one s church membership. If membership in a particular religion can t save you, then it stands to reason that membership in a particular religion can t damn you, either.
So I cannot say if Mitt Romney is a Christian or not. I don t know the guy. I d have to say the same about Glenn Beck.
Both guys sound like Christians, they act like Christians in their public lives, they self-identify as Christians and, for the most part, live good, clean moral lives. Neither man drinks or smokes. Both have evidently strong and happy marriages and good families.
By every available visible standard, these guys seem to be Christians. Indeed, in answer to the question, If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict? I d have to say in both Romney s and Beck s cases, if I were on the jury, with the evidence before me now, I d have to say both appear guilty as charged.
Almost every Christian criticism of Mormonism starts out with the same caveat: Mormons live good, clean, lifestyles, have strong family values and high moral standards, but . . . and then launch into all the buts about Mormonism.
Mormons, on the other hand, claim to follow Jesus Christ and His teachings, oftentimes (and accurately) pointing out that they do a better job at living the Christian lifestyle than do most of their Christian critics.
As I ve said often enough to qualify as an old saying, old sayings get to be old sayings because they are true. And there s an old saying to the effect that one can t judge a book by its cover, but rather, by its contents.
So let s examine the contents.
According to Mormon teaching on atonement, Jesus paid for all our sins when He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Laurel Rohlfing, Sharing Time: The Atonement, Friend, Mar. 1989, 39.)
Christian doctrine teaches that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross, but our salvation comes from our faith in His Resurrection as First-born of the Dead.
His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane reveals His dual nature as truly God and truly man. It was His acceptance of ‘the cup’ that led to our salvation, but it was His act of obedience that secured it.
As to how one becomes saved, “We accept Christ’s atonement by repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and obeying all of the commandments,” (Gospel Principles, Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979, pg. 68.)
We accept Christ s atonement on our behalf by repenting of our sins and trusting in the Bible s promise that atonement is all-sufficient. We are not saved by baptism baptism is a public expression of the saving faith that is ALREADY in the possession of the one who is baptized.
Baptism plays an important role in one s spiritual maturity and is one of the two ordinances given the Church by Jesus, but it plays no role in salvation by grace through faith.
First comes salvation by grace through faith, and then comes baptism.
The Holy Ghost indwells us at salvation, but He does not save in the process — one is already saved BEFORE one is indwelt.
And if, after all that, one is still required also obey all the commandments, then that one remains as lost at the end as one was at the beginning.
But according to LDS official doctrine, One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 206.)
As far as the Bible is concerned, “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly. . .” (8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church.)
However, the Book of Mormon claims that the Bible is NOT translated correctly in any of its versions, so the LDS article of faith in the Bible ‘as the Word of God’ is meaningless;
Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.” (1 Nephi 13:28, the Book of Mormon).
Indeed, the LDS holds that the book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible. (History of the [LDS] Church, 4;461)
So, what does the Book of Mormon teach more correctly than Scripture? Does it enhance Scripture? Or contradict it?
Mormon Doctrine, page 63, teaches that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers and we were all born as their brothers and sisters in heaven. So, how did Jesus become God and Savior while His brother, Satan, became the Devil?
Mormon Doctrine, page 193 and the Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, page 8 explains:
A plan of salvation was needed for the people of earth so Jesus offered a plan to the Father and Satan offered a plan to the father but Jesus’ plan was accepted. In effect the Devil wanted to be the Savior of all Mankind and to “deny men their agency and to dethrone God.”
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things including Satan. John 1:1-3 teaches that the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. (Including Satan AND Heaven)
Not only does the LDS doctrinally deny the Deity of Christ, they even deny the Deity of God the Father.
Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS, taught that God used to be just a man on another planet, a heresy that has been fully accepted by the LDS as a matter of doctrine. (Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, Vol 5, pp. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol 2, p. 345, Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333.)
According to the Bible, one of the attributes of God is that He is eternal without either beginning nor end. The Mormon god is not eternal.
According to official LDS doctrine, God Himself had a father. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 476; Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19; Milton Hunter, First Council of the Seventy, Gospel through the Ages, p. 104-105.)
And, after you become a good Mormon, you too, have the potential of becoming a god. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 345-347, 354.)
According to the Bible, there is only One God. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. (Deuternomy 6:4) . . .for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me. . . (Isaiah 46:9)
The LDS teaches there are many gods (Mormon Doctrine p. 163) “And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light (Book of Abraham 4:3)
There are lots more: There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188); good works are necessary for salvation, Articles of Faith, p. 92); but I think I ve made my point.
To be sure, there will be Mormons who will dispute some of these doctrines, or attempt to minimize them, but if so, they are ignorant of their own theology. That is why I included chapter and verse, so they can look it up for themselves.
This isn t a slam against Mormonism; it is what it is I didn t invent its doctrines and I admit that I envy much about the Mormon lifestyle.
I admire their missionary zeal, their commitment to their faith and families, their loyalty to their church . . . but Mormon doctrine is not Christian dctrine.
That is not to say it might be Christian, but just a different kind of Christian, like Catholics are different than Baptists, who are different than Presbyterians, who are different from non-denominational Christians.
The only thing that is doctrinally Christian about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the Name on the door.
That said, consider the public testimonies of the other Christian front-runners, like Catholic Rudy Guiliani, Baptist Fred Thompson, Methodist Hillary Clinton or United Church of Christ Member Since-2007 Barack Obama.
Since we are only talking about a form of godliness in even a best-case scenario anyway, I actually kind of like Mitt Romney for president.