Morning Roundup 10/16/12: Are Mormons Christians?
There will be, I believe, lots of discussion of Mormonism in the years to come, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. As such, I thought these two articles were fascinating. First, a New York Times editorial that I think provides a helpful picture that Mormons are not Christians, something I've written on previously.
I'm a Mormon, Not a Christian -- David V. Mason
I want to be on record about this. I'm about as genuine a Mormon as you'll find -- a templegoer with a Utah pedigree and an administrative position in a congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am also emphatically not a Christian.
For the curious, the dispute can be reduced to Jesus. Mormons assert that because they believe Jesus is divine, they are Christians by default. Christians respond that because Mormons don't believe -- in accordance with the Nicene Creed promulgated in the fourth century -- that Jesus is also the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Jesus that Mormons have in mind is someone else altogether. The Mormon reaction is incredulity. The Christian retort is exasperation. Rinse and repeat.
Now, that's not quite right, but it gets at the point. I explain it this way, from a Christian perspective:
The fundamental issue is: how divergent can your views be and still be a part of a faith group (in contrast to forming a new one). Can you believe, for instance, that Muhammad is not the prophet and still call yourself a Muslim? The vast majority of Muslims would say you cannot. For Christians, calling yourself a Christian while not believing that God has always existed as the triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is as inconceivable.
Yet, Bob Rees disagreed in a Religion News Blog editorial.
Why I am a Christian First and a Mormon Second -- Bob Rees
For the past several months I have been pondering David V. Mason's New York Times op-ed piece, "I'm a Mormon, Not a Christian." Mason, who sees himself "about as genuine a Mormon as you'll find" and "emphatically not a Christian," seems so radically different from how I see myself--as emphatically a Christian while also being a very genuine Mormon...
Mormons consider it ironic that they believe in such core Christian beliefs as the Virgin Birth, the Atonement, and the Resurrection and yet are not considered Christian by some of their fellow believers, whereas many mainline Christians who no longer hold such beliefs are considered so.
By the way, I think the comment about mainline Christians is important, but you cannot address the Mormon issue by pointing out the problems with theological liberalism.
Finally, in regards to Mormonism, here is a recent discussion from The Exchange. In this episode we talked about Mormonism as a different religion and what that means for Christians. We also discuss the use of the word "cult."
It is legitimate to use the term "cult" in a theological sense. In other words, Mormonism is a theological cult of Christianity, deviating from the beliefs in ways that Christians find unacceptable (which is, by the way David Mason's point in his New York Times op ed). As such, I am guessing I am one of the few calling Mormonism a cult in the Salt Lake Tribune, but I was asked and I answered accurately.
However, my concern is to reach Mormons, not simply label them. And, the term "cult" simply does not carry the technical meaning to most people. For most, they think of compounds and mind control, and that's not Mormonism. As such, I think it better to refer to it as a different religion, separate from Christianity, as we discuss in this video.
From The Exchange, Tal Davis address whether or not Mormons are Christians. You can see the full episode here.
Be sure to watch The Exchange every Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. CDT, right here at EdStetzer.com.