Sunday, December 09, 2007

Mormons are Fine People, But Not Christians

Mormonism is a practical religion that produces strong families and responsible citizens. They are not polygamists anymore, and have no more tolerance for polygamist Mormon sects than the average American does. They promote hard work, practical help to others, and respect for social institutions. Mormon evangelism is the envy of many other churches, and could offer a lesson or three to the declining Protestant mainline.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been putting on a charm offensive lately to be accepted as just another Christian Church. The Book of Mormon has been republished with a new subtitle, "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." Mitt Romney gave his big religion speech this week to show that his faith should be just as acceptable in a president as that of any previous president. He even proclaimed his belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

But when Mormons say that Jesus is the son of God, they mean something different than when Christians say it. Official Mormon theology teaches that God (and the shadowy Mrs. God) were once human beings who worked their way up to divinity. They believe Jesus was a man who did the same. And so can each of us, if we become Mormons. The Book of Mormon is "another testament of Jesus Christ" in the same way that the Koran is. Both books take the Jesus of the Christian New Testament and re-imagine him as a prophet with a specific exalted task. Exalted, but not divine.

The theological conflict between Mormonism and Christianity doesn't come up much in everyday life because most Mormons don't really know Mormon theology. When Mormon evangelists make a convert, they talk to people about living a new life, strengthening their families now and in the afterlife, and get them quickly to baptism. Then, in the years following, they get around to the theology -- if the convert wants to know.

Now, in fairness, most Christians couldn't get far in explaining Christian theology, either. But their clergy could. And if there were Mormon clergy in every town with a Mormon congregation, then the two kinds of ministers would have to have it out at the local level. However, Mormons don't have clergy. Most believing men are "priests," and can lead the local rituals, but the content of the services come directly from Salt Lake City. You don't have to know theology to be a Mormon priest any more than you have to know Christian theology to be a Baptist deacon. The important thing is not know the talk, but to walk the walk, to live the practical requirements of the religion.

I think Mitt Romney is right that his faith does not disqualify him from being president any more than the previous presidents' faith does. But I don't think it is Christian.

59 comments:

Anagrammy said...

As a former Mormon and a later Presbyterian, I'd like to add to your primarily accurate comments about Mormonism. I live in Salt Lake City and was upset last Spring when the Mormon "apostle" Boyd K. Packer (yes, you must use the middle initial...sign of respect and all...) said that the Mormon church never criticized other Christian religions. It might have been important for the television audience to know that the Mormon church is BASED on criticism of other Christian releigions. Joseph Smith's "First Vision" included a wholesale denunciation of all Christian religions, even calling them "abominations." Yes, Smith did not hold back-- unless you believe that God rejected every other man on his knees except Smith in 1820.

Point-- the Mormon church is dishonest about its history. It also shows no respect for its members by refusing to provide ANY explanation for removing significant portions of the temple ceremony which John Q. Public (potential convert) found, well, horrifying. The members were told that PROTESTANTS and CATHOLICS were to blame for corrupting the sacred rituals of the temples of old...and Mormons (thank goodness) were "restoring" them now that the Church of Jesus Christ was being restored to accuracy. Obviously, the Mormon church's eternal principles which were so important they had to be restored by Jesus Christ and GOd himself were not important enough to escape being thrown overboard after LDS, Inc. hired a New York PR firm.

Who is a christian? I asked a missionary who Jesus was last year. He told me he was not God in the same way God the Father is God. He said that "Savior" is a calling...a job description. I asked him if Jesus was married since he sat at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and according to Mormon doctrine, only those who are married and polygamists can go to heaven. He told me we don't know the fate of Jesus. Exact words, brothers and sisters, exact words.

This missionary was trained to tell people what Mormons believe and I believed he was telling me the truth. Can he be called a Christian? What if I believe Jesus is my god and that he is from an other planet? Am I a Christian since I'm trying to follow the words of Jesus.

Mormons believe their prayers go to God the Father, a glorified former man who lives on Kolob, which is hidden behind the sun. This is from the Journal of Discourses, which is MOrmon history; however, most Mormons wouldn't know what you are talking about.

Mormons are engaged in a huge revisionist plan to distance the faithful from the history and doctrine and just put forth the faith in its most familiar form: organized, cheerey simulated Trinitarianism.

Those who pray to Jesus were disciplined by Mormon Doctrine author Bruce McConkie in the eighties. One professor (mine) lost his career when he became too popular by starting a wave movement among Mormon college students to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

I want you to know my whole life changed when I discovered women in the Presbyterian church who "walked with Jesus." They told me Icould walk with Jesus even though I don't have "the priesthood." It changed my life. To me, this is what it means to be a Christian. To me, the Mormons have what they claim "Christendom" has-- the form of Christianity without its power.

Kathleen in SLC

Willem Rennick said...

Claiming Mormons are not Christian is like claiming Sunnis are not Muslim. The thing that Mormons are not are Trinitarian. Saying anything else is, at best, misleading. The only reason people who claim to be Christian have for attempting to draw a distinction where there is none is because they are afraid of what they view as a legitimization of what they claim is a 'cult'. Interesting you mention the fact that the Mormons have a lay clergy. This also means they are not PAID. Guess who would be hurt in the wallet if everyone started associating Mormons with Christians? Preachers on the payroll, perhaps... Who wants Mormons viewed as a cult? Oh yeah...

Just follow the money.

It is ok to admit it.

Alex said...

I guess it depends on whether or not saying Mormons are not Christians is a pejorative statement. I don't see that Beau's analysis is critical in any way. But Mormons self-identify as Christians -- which goes a long way to making them Christians. I hear Presbyterian Christians claim non-orthodox things all the time and I would never call them non-Christian.

José Solano said...

The trend today is to call a Christian anyone who calls himself a Christian. What they believe in doesn’t matter in this thoroughly relativistic non-discriminatory mindset.

But allow me to be so bold as to whisper the truth. If we have not come to confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we have not even entered the Church of Christ and we are no Christian whatsoever. And that’s just the entry level of discipleship. On top of that we must carefully study what Christ asks us to do and make every effort to do it, examining our every action and praying continuously for help and guidance.

And now repeat after me:
LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME A SINNER.

Mormon Passerby said...

Well said, Jose. I believe that the fullness of the Gospel is found in the lives of people living the principles of the scriptures, even more than the principles themselves. I have truly seen miracles in peoples lives as they find Christ, in the Mormon Church as well as others. Mormons believe every good gift comes from Christ (that was one of the important messages from Mormon himself, as I recall), so it would be incorrect to say that Christ has no place in any other religion.

They believe Jesus was a man who did the same.

Mormons believe that Jesus and Jehovah are the same person. So I'm not sure that one should infer that Jesus was not God before his sojourn on earth.

But as for working our way up, we learn from the example of Christs life that, "of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." From birth, referencing Christ we learn that, "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him."

He lived a perfect live, and as an example assumed all of the same frailties and challenges we do of growing up -- growing grace for grace -- to show us how we can overcome them too and what we can obtain with his help. How often did he tell his disciples what greater things they would see?

Both books take the Jesus of the Christian New Testament and re-imagine him as a prophet with a specific exalted task. Exalted, but not divine.

Gruntled, this is one statement which I hope you can see more clearly by reading passages from the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon states in no uncertain terms the divinity of Jesus.

--"And the God of our fathers, who were bled out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel." --

However, Mormons don't have clergy.

Probably more correct to say there isn't a professional paid clergy. There is a priesthood order, and it is available according to worthiness rather than scholarly aptitude. Church services span three hours, involving a sacrament meeting and then two hours of theological instruction where one church member helps another. This instruction is targeted for the pre-schooler (18 months and up) and up.

There is also an additional seminary program for high school students, one hour every school day. And in college there are also theological classes provided. Young men will devote two years of their lives to intense and focused ecclesiastical service and learning.

But, to be sure, the disdain of the plebeian religious order is hardly a requirement of Christianity. If anything our record of His own life shows, was how much better off He felt the ordinary people of the day were in example and discourse, than the professional clergy of his day, no?

In the end it is our own relationship with Christ that will guide us. I have no doubt that Christ guides his children, and we do the works we saw our father do (in the New Testament). I have no doubt that personal prayer gets answers from a source that is infinitely concerned with our welfare. Prayer, and the answers I've received, is squarely where I base my witness of Christ from. Having lived almost 2000 years after his life, it is my only example of true interaction with Him. And it is why without compromise I say that Jesus is my personal lord and savior -- as a Mormon.

Anonymous said...

Was God ever Born?
Was God ever created?
Everything and everyone has a beginning.
Even God.
But as far as we need to worry about?
He is our first and our last.
He is our God.

Jon said...

I think part of the challenge here is that we speak different languages. One way to ask "who is a Christian?" is to look at self-description (you are if you say you are). Another is to define Christianity in normative terms and admit or exclude people based on this description (and yes, the trinity is pretty basic here). This could include belief, or also practice (so baptism, Lord's Supper, etc.). Most Christians acknowledge some fuzziness in this process (thus the role of the Spirit, or the old Reformed visible/invisible Church distinction).

I do think that there is something deceptive about the way Mormons go about their witness. If I say I am evangelical or catholic, I make it pretty clear that I am speaking theologically and that I am not claiming identification in groups that don't recognize me.

I do think it is possible that eventually Mormonism could be absorbed into broader Christian orthodoxy. This has happened often in the past. But it will require repudiation of "other" testaments...

José Solano said...

Congratulations “Mormon Passerby,” you have passed the entry-level confession of faith. Your heart is in the right place. Now for the details, and we may recall that the devil tends to be in the details. For as it is written, “. . . Even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8)

I hope to return when time permits.

Mormon Passerby said...

Jose,

Too true. So it all comes down to the gospel, our savior Jesus Christ died that we may live. Who made intersession for our sins. Is it from an angel of deciept that I have learned this truth from my Mormon upbringing? Have my prayers for faith, understanding, for communion and comfort been answered by an angel of lies that I profess that truth?

The Father who knows how to give gifts, has he given me a stone (which neither sees nor hears nor speaks) or a beguiling snake?

As with any scientific method, you can check my work. I will quote from the closing chapter in the Book of Mormon, that you may know that I have not had preached to me a different gospel at all, in the faith that I cherish and the relationship with my Savior that I have found.

"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

"And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.

"And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.

"And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God."

Please accept this as a gift. I will leave it to you to humbly search out its source for yourself.

Anonymous said...

There has been a considerable amount of discussion on the term Christian in the comments for this article. Professor, I would like to know how you operationalized the term Christian when you concluded that Mormons do not qualify as Christians. This is not meant to be a judgment, only a critique of your post. I did not get a clear understanding of who you understood to be Christian from your post.

Gruntled said...

Christian belief, in all its varieties, holds that God, the creator of the universe, is a being unlike any other -- not a man who became divine. The scandal of Christian faith is that God chosen to become incarnate to take away the sins of the world. As C.S. Lewis put it, God it God and we are not.

Mormon Passerby said...

Christian belief, in all its varieties, holds that God, the creator of the universe, is a being unlike any other

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:"

"for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have"

"he that hath seen me hath seen the Father."

"our vile body . . . fashioned like unto his glorious body."

No doubt Moses, Christ and Paul were Christians, if your requirement for being a Christian is knowing the true nature of God.

As C.S. Lewis put it, God it God and we are not.

C.S. Lewis was a brilliant author. I know of no Mormon who would disagree with that statement. Yet it is written both in the old testament "ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most High". To underline the message, we have the words of Christ...

"The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

"Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

"If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him."

As I pointed out above, the very condensention of God that you require as Christian orthodoxy is taught in the Mormon church, found in the Book of Mormon.

It is not that Mormons lack what you consider to be essential to being Christian, (at least as you've pointed out so far) it is that they have additional beliefs that you probably don't well understand. And that is normal, yet not well advised to condemn what one doesn't readily understand.

José Solano said...

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the gory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-3 and 14

The Word that was God became flesh. All Christians understand that this is God coming down to the earth not man ascending to become God. If the Mormons do not accept this then, like the Jehovah Witnesses who reject it, they cannot be called Christians. This is foundational. So if you say you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior but do not know who Christ is you cannot be a Christian. You must understand that in Christ “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily . . . .” Col. 2:9

And there is much more to say on this.

As for the Book of Mormon I’m informed that it provides a thoroughly false understanding of what was happening in the Americas in the time period it speaks of, claiming the existence here of horses, cows, pigs, etc., all animals that were brought to this hemisphere after Columbus. No reputable archeologist has found any trace of so many things Mormons say existed here, from the wheel to advance metallurgy working with iron and bronze. It is all Middle Eastern and European imagery projected onto the ancient societies of this hemisphere.

Furthermore no genetic traits of Semitic origin have been found among the indigenous people of this hemisphere. They are all genetically linked to Asians.

And there is much more to say on this.

For now this must suffice but for some greater details on Mormonism problems I recommend
http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/Book-of-Mormon.pdf and
http://www.catholic.com/library/Problems_with_the_Book_of_Mormon.asp

And there are many more refutations.

PS The citation of the passage “Ye are gods” refers to the ability to judge and has nothing to do with the illusion that we are or could become Gods.” It does seem that in this respect it is the Mormons who have a mistaken understanding of the fundamentals of Christianity.

More as time permits.

José Solano said...

My quote should read, "the glory (not gory) as of the only begotten of the Father,"

Mormon Passerby said...

Jose,

Good to talk to you again.

You said, "The Word that was God became flesh. All Christians understand that this is God coming down to the earth not man ascending to become God. If the Mormons do not accept this then, like the Jehovah Witnesses who reject it, they cannot be called Christians."

That the Word that was with God and was God? And that became flesh and dwelt among men? And that is different than the our own ability to [as a matter of grace for grace, increasingly] emulate our Father?

Check. Just reference the passages I already referenced from the Book of Mormon above.

You then turned on the Book of Mormon, which is certainly noteworthy but I was anticipating hearing more of your commentary on the passages provided. You said, "
As for the Book of Mormon I’m informed that it provides a thoroughly false understanding of what was happening in the Americas in the time period it speaks of."

Mentioning cows, horses, etc... Was that a requirement of Christianity?

I'm curious then. Where are the dragons and satyrs in the ruins of Babylon? Have the deep sea sonar nets that search for submarines found Leviathan yet? Where, or where is Behemoth?

My point is not that the Bible is faulty, but that I doubt you have gained a witness of its truthfulness from science and specifically anthropology. I doubt that our understanding of animals today has to match their understanding back then for you to accept the Bible. The same science which constantly attacks the story of creation, and the flood, and the existence of Moses and his plagues.

No, you base your witness of the Bible on its influence in your life. On your firm understanding of the divine source of the Bible. It is the source that matters, not the critic. And that is why if you are to really understand the work, you need to ask God, as the Book of Mormon itself asks you to do.

And to your PS: True the reference does reflect out ability to judge (though Christ's commentary is much more specific when it says the reference is to "whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken"). And when you investigate why David, and Christ used "gods" to describe that quality, you are on the beginning of the journey to understand that doctrine.

And more importantly when you understand what the meaning of father and son the way Christ tells is, then you really are at the doorway to understanding one of the main themes of Christ's teachings.

Condemn not which you don't understand. Above all seek understanding.

And I could provide article after article showing startling evidence of Book of Mormon knowledge of both Hebrew culture and ancient American culture, far beyond what can reasonable be expected of an uneducated farm boy. Parallels and knowledge that wasn't even had by the best of scholars of the day. I know you might be interested. But I will let you ask God for yourself. If it is the word of God, do you really want it to be anything but a part of your life? I know it has greatly helped me gain a relationship with God. I know it could even improve your fast friendship with God. And I know you are a true and humble seeker of this truth.

José Solano said...

Another charge that has been leveled against the Book of Mormon is that it relies too much on the King James Version of the Bible. It even appears to have simply plagiarized much of it. With reference to alleged mythological creatures in the Old Testament I suggest the following reading as a start: http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/read/what_about_the_unicorn_and_the_satyr

But, having said that it appears that you are admitting that the Book of Mormon is simply wrong about the types of animals it claims existed in this hemisphere. You must admit that it is also wrong about the use of the wheel and the use of iron and bronze. What have you to say about the genetic makeup about the indigenous people of this hemisphere?

I suggest that you pray that God provide you a clean conscience that can properly reason out these questions. Who knows, perhaps this very conversation is the answer to this prayer.

More perhaps later. Blessings to you in your search.

Mormon Passerby said...

Jose,

Lets continue in friendship and understanding. I do not see this account as factual, "it appears that you are admitting that the Book of Mormon is simply wrong about the types of animals it claims existed in this hemisphere." Honestly, I don't know what I said that made you think that. No matter, my job here is to simply let you understand better so that you do not condemn so hastily. I am happy to continue to clear up misunderstandings.

Jose, you continue to expect science and anthropology to determine the truth of the Book of Mormon for you. Especially when there is so much in the Bible that does not jive with the very same science. I presented the problem of Satyrs, and Leviathan and Behemoth (the latter two you have yet to address :) not because they are a problem to me. They are not. But so that through them I can show that you know the answer. You just needed to be prompted for it.

You provided the answer yourself. In the link you provided we see that we should guard against applying our own understanding of what creatures are to what we read. They are exactly right. Unicorns and Satyrs are, as they noted, not the same thing as we think of them today. Same is true of the Bible as it is for the Book of Mormon.

Another reference one can use to show how we must guard against applying our own understanding is even more basic to the Bible. It is in the reference to corn, and ears of corn used in the Bible. Of course, you and I know that this is a reference to grain. But today, that sounds like they are saying that corn (a uniquely new world plant that is synonymous these days with maize) grew in anciently in the middle east.

So do you understand where your understanding is wrong? Well if not yet then I'll get even more direct. What of the horse? What of the cow? I refer you to Jeff Lindsay who offers the appropriate explanation.

You continued, "You must admit that it is also wrong about the use of the wheel and the use of iron and bronze".

You'll have to be more specific. I know there is a reference to a steel bow in the Book of Mormon. There is also a reference to a steel bow by Kind David and Job (which continues to be a problem for people to answer to this day). Again I reference Jeff Lindsay. Who not only explains some of these things, but shows evidence that Amerindians did have and use iron during Book of Mormon times.

Oh and ibid for the wheel.

And DNA evidence too.

At this point I say go with God good brother. The scriptures were never meant to be a reason for Christians to fight amongst themselves. You are a good soul, and I have enjoyed this chat. I continue to simply say, your journey to God will lead you to Him. So will the Bible, and so will the Book of Mormon together. Because they both speak of the same Christ, the same who was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Noah and Adam too) the same who died for our sins. And that is why the Book of Mormon is true, because it brings us closer to the same God we have learned about in the Bible. The very same. Two books that are similarly attacked both on their historical veracity. And both shine through given Gods grace that we uncover enough of what really happened in those times to understand it well enough.

José Solano said...

Dear Mormon Passerby,

I am your friend and offer you nothing but blessings in your efforts to follow Christ and in your studies of what Christ and the Apostles teach. I’m also as your friend trying to bring to your attention problems within the Book of Mormon that you may have heard of before and for which you have some responses.

The first problem I addressed from the John is the question of direction that Gruntled also addressed. Is God coming down and incarnating or is the man Jesus being born and becoming God?

Because you used supposedly mythological creatures named in the King James Version of the Bible as an analogy to the horses, cows, etc. named in the Book of Mormon, I was assuming this meant that these animals really didn’t exist in the Americas of the time. What exactly are you saying about these animals at that time? Are they symbolic? I can’t imagine what they might symbolize. Please further explain how such animals existed in the Americas in the relatively near past in archeological terms. Sixteen hundred years ago is not very long ago and we have lots of information about what was going on in the Americas at that time.

Your corn analogy is a good one because we know that they are certainly not talking about corn from the Americas and no one imagines they are. It’s an easily understood translation problem. What's the translation problem related to horses, cows and pigs?

I must be frank and say that the citations you make are so hokey that only the most gullible could accept them. One of them concludes with, “Surprisingly, the Mexican researchers show no awareness of the horse teeth discovered in 1957 by Carnegie Institution scientists Pollock and Ray. (Some uncomfortable scientific facts seem to need rediscovering time and time again.)” Sorry, but we don’t do archeology or paleontology this way. I have a little background in anthropology. It’s my undergraduate major and I specialized in pre-Colombian studies. I’ve also been numerous times to the region discussed and no one is making any claim to horses ever existing in pre-Colombian times. There are all sorts of animals depicted in pottery and sculpture but nothing about horses, cows or pigs. These are big animals that would be hard to ignore in their art work. Llamas are depicted extensively in ancient Inca works. I think Mormon Passerby that it’s time to give this one up.

Since the first citation was so sloppy I really had no time to read much more of the references offered. You’re really pressing credibility when you have to appeal to such statements as “. . . we must ask what is meant by the word horse? Does it refer to the true horse (Equus) of today?” C’mon, they were pulling chariots! They can’t be talking about tapirs or deer. These are desperate rationalizations. The Book of Mormon is simply not historically reliable at all.

As I know that Mormons are very interested in ancient America I highly recommend Charles C. Mann’s 1491, New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.

More on foundational differences between Christians and Mormons as time permits but let me say I have always had great rapport and friendship with Mormons even if there temple worship experience is closed off to Christians. I can worship in a Catholic, Orthodox, Presbyterian, Mennonite, etc. church but not in a Mormon temple. How can they be Christians if Christians can’t worship with them?

Mormon Passerby said...

Jose said, "The first problem I addressed from the John is the question of direction that Gruntled also addressed. Is God coming down and incarnating or is the man Jesus being born and becoming God?"

I don't suppose he meant to use the phrase, "the first problem addressed from the john". Emphasis mine. But hopefully not risking sacrilege (because I know what he meant to write as opposed to what he did write), I have to thank Jose for putting a smile on my face. But I don't mean to distract, Jose while critically claiming another was getting sloppy, was typing too fast or getting sloppy. Sometimes it is good to take a good laugh during a discussion that seems to be getting rather contentious.

The answer to the question Jose raised, referencing the Gospel of John, was answered in my first comment here. One need only read the Book of Mormon to find the answer. It is, once again sad to find Jose overlooking the matters of the spirit, and doggedly hoping that science will disprove the Book of Mormon for him.

You also said, "Sorry, but we don’t do archeology or paleontology this way." Which is a curious comment, considering that "Carnegie Institution scientists Pollock and Ray" did just that. Or by saying that, did Jose simply mean that archeology and paleontology are methods of ignoring evidence?

I ask that because the "Mexican Researchers" that was mentioned in Jose's quote are people who found horse remains also...

"Two Mexican archaeologists carried out a project that included a complete survey of the complex system of subterranean cavities (made by underground water that had dissolved the subsurface limestone). They also did stratigraphic excavation in areas in the Loltun complex not previously visited. The pits they excavated revealed a sequence of 16 layers, which they numbered from the surface downward. Bones of extinct animals (including mammoth) appear in the lowest layers.

"Pottery and other cultural materials were found in levels VII and above. But in some of those artifact-bearing strata there were horse bones, even in level II. A radiocarbon date for the beginning of VII turned out to be around 1800 B.C. The pottery fragments above that would place some portions in the range of at least 900-400 B.C. and possibly later. The report on this work concludes with the observation that "something went on here that is still difficult to explain." Some archaeologists have suggested that the horse bones were stirred upward from lower to higher levels by the action of tunneling rodents, but they admit that this explanation is not easy to accept. The statement has also been made that paleontologists will not be pleased at the idea that horses survived to such a late date as to be involved with civilized or near-civilized people whose remains are seen in the ceramic-using levels. [Schmidt, "La entrada," 254.]"

I'm sure that Jose has a thing or two to teach these people about archeology. It was after noting this discovery that the quote Jose gave, comes into place. Also in that page are citations of anthropological evidence of horses also.

Jose also asks, "What exactly are you saying about these animals at that time? Are they symbolic?"

Actually, that is a startling question since the citation Jose gave for Satyrs mentioned they weren't symbolic but just mistranslated references to hairy creatures. And that unicorns were really just goats. Did you get the links mixed up? Or did I miss the "symbolic" apology used to explain the biblical reference? I'm still waiting on Leviathan and Behemoth. Unlike the descriptions of mis-translation of Satyrs, those animals are given very keen descriptions, not by people but God in the book of Job. Jose is the one determining truth by paleontology ... go ahead, I'm waiting.

Jose also notes about the horses, "C’mon, they were pulling chariots! They can’t be talking about tapirs or deer."

This brings up a question, Jose. Do you know of any chariot fragments being discovered in the Holy Land? Just curious.

Jose then starts taunting, "These are desperate rationalizations. The Book of Mormon is simply not historically reliable at all." Oh Jose, the Bible has just as much trouble in historical reliability. I mentioned that earlier. Even in its mention of animals. In its mention of brass, steel, and other weaponry. So many figures, from Esther to Saul, to even King David, are questioned because we supposedly know so much about the time period that it is strange we don't see them in what we've found.

Jose has lived the Bible, and has no doubt withstood many questions of its veracity by science. Yet when it comes to the Book of Mormon, he's abandoned the theological discussion and accepted science as a weapon. Jose can dismiss the Bible and the Book of Mormon on lack of historic veracity (according to what we know now) or he can accept the possibility that they are true in spite of what science says (at the moment).

I gave my scientific method above (as in set of steps that can be repeated by someone else to see the results for them self). It is the same way I know the Bible is true. That and the principles, as I apply them in my life, really do provide a more rich and meaningful life. They were meant to be together, and even prophesied in the Bible that they would be together.

José Solano said...

Dear Mormon Passerby,

Thank you for catching the typo. These things are very common in blogging comments and must not be compared with wholesale erroneous claims made in supposedly academic writings. The “sloppy” writing I’m referring to is of another magnitude. It is of the type that presents itself as scholarly but is merely a lengthy linkage of unauthenticated assertions, suppositions and allegations. Works such as Chariots of the Gods, numerous flying saucer writings, Saskuatch “evidence”, and what you have cited. These are not typos.

People have made claims of finding horse teeth and bones that are from pre-Colombian times. The way science works is “show me the body” (habeas corpus). Show me the evidence. Don’t make derogatory insinuations such as “paleontologists will not be pleased at the idea that horses survived to such a late date as to be involved with civilized or near-civilized people whose remains are seen in the ceramic-using levels. [Schmidt, "La entrada," 254.]" This is absurd. They would love to make such a discovery and it would be front-page headlines in the New York Times and in every archeology publication. It’s also silly to make a claim such as, “Some uncomfortable scientific facts seem to need rediscovering time and time again.” There is nothing uncomfortable about discovering pre-Colombian horse or cow remains.

I am not a literalist-fundamentalist when it comes to interpreting the Bible and I see creatures such as leviathan, behemoth, or the “whale” in Jonah as purely symbolical. The entire Book of Job is also symbolical for me. These are “wisdom stories” written to convey a particular meaning and/or experience. I don’t think they were meant to be taken literally except perhaps by children so that they could be remembered and pondered when they became adults. Wisdom tales were very common at the time. People have gone into great length to explain them and I could also but this is not the place for that.

So, would you say that horses, cows and pigs are simply symbolical in the Book of Mormon and no one is expected to take them literally? But how could these names of real creatures even come up among a people that didn’t know them. Pulling chariots? The whole thing is simply far-fetched. Such imagery could only come from the creative imagination of Joseph Smith who was familiar with all of these animals and European/Middle Eastern lifestyles. If you want to claim that the Book of Mormon is an historically reputable book you have a lot of explaining to do, to yourself. I declare, there is nothing historical about the Book of Job except perhaps in some very superficial sense.

I don’t know if any chariots have been discovered in the Holy Land but we know that the Romans used chariots and that they destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Perhaps they left some broken down chariots somewhere. We have bas-relief evidence of chariots on ancient walls, etc. (See http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17328/17328-h/images/279.jpg) There are many ways of gathering evidence for the existence of something. We have Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s actual chariot. (See http://web-owls.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/05/Egyptian_Museum_Tut_s_chariot.jpg)

We know that the wheel was used for carts and chariots throughout the world EXCEPT in the Americas and varied very primitive groups.

Though the Bible has “wisdom stories” and apocalyptic visions, etc. that are not to be taken literally, it’s amazing how much of it is historically grounded and provable through corroborating outside evidence. I have not read the Book of Mormon and do not plan to, but what can you say that is specifically significant and historically factual about the Book of Mormon? There is zero demonstrable evidence about any people, animals (horses, cows, etc.) or events as depicted in the BM. There is not a trace of Semitic genetic material in any of its indigenous people. How did such a claimed huge number of people and civilization with all of its artifacts simply vanish?

Do let me know also why Christians are prevented from worshipping or even visiting Mormon temples if Mormons are Christians.

Ah, yes, "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Well, I have asked God in the name of Christ sincerely and he has so far revealed to me that Mormons are not only not Christians but that they renounce the Christian teaching and separate themselves from Christians, and that they believe in the fictitious tales in the Book of Mormon given to them by Joseph Smith and perhaps others.

I wish you peace and truth in Christ’s name and do keep up the many good works that Mormon’s generally do. And I can see myself voting for Romney against Clinton.

Mormon Passerby said...

Good Jose,

I thank you for your warm words, and the others too. You put much effort and your own passion in your writing. Of that I have no doubt.

I hate to point this out, but you said, "show me the body" is how science works. Perhaps this means quite a bit in discerning your approach, in reading a report of horse bones, and another of horse teeth, and then surmising that no bodily evidence was presented.

You also said there is no semitic DNA evidence in the Amerindians. You must have jumped out early in the link. Starting with the discussion of Halotype X.

You also asked about Temple worship. As with Christ answering, I will first ask you a question. You are probably as familiar with temple worship as anyone else. Christ went to worship at the temple, but did he offer the incense offering like Zacharias did? Did Moses?

Why not? You tell me, and I will answer your question.

José Solano said...

Thank you Mormon Passerby for your references to Moses and the Temple (tabernacle) as it explains a lot about what appears to be another Mormon unchristian misunderstanding about the Word becoming flesh, the atoning and redemptive work of Christ and what the rending of the veil of the temple in Matthew, Mark and Luke refers to.

I cannot here go into lengthy detailed explanations of what this means but it appears, though you have not provided any explanation or interpretation, that the exclusion of Christians from the Mormon Tabernacle essentially relates to the Old Testament purification and sacrificial rituals of the Hebrews necessary to enter the temple.

In short, Mormons are saying that Christians are unclean, unworthy and unfit to enter the Temple. But this only further demonstrates that Mormons fail to understand the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice for us. The veil has been rent by Christ’s sacrifice and the spilling of His blood for us and we now have free passage into the temple and the kingdom of heaven. We can do nothing to deserve entrance other than believe in our Redeemer. That’s the meaning of being saved by the grace of God and the function of the sacrifice of God’s Son our Savior Jesus Christ. He died for our sins and we do not need to make any offerings at the Brazen Altar. Jesus is the offering for us and by accepting Jesus we are accepted. That’s all. Isn’t it beautiful and joyous? That’s the meaning of “accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior” which you confess but apparently do not understand so it’s a meaningless confession.

“And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Mk. 15:37-38

So I now provide you the living Altar Call. Accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and renounce false teachings that distort Christ’s message and reduce Him to a mere mortal in need of spiritual growth so as to become like God. For the sake of the reason God wishes us to live by, renounce the absurdities in the Book of Mormon and let the Spirit of God bring you to true liberating faith. Ultimately, it is you who must be God’s temple in which the Spirit of Christ should reign. This is the temple that needs to be restored. Clean out that temple by exorcizing false teachings (doctrines) that keep you from the worship communion and fellowship with Christians. Don’t go backwards into the Old Testament and it’s tabernacle which is but an instructional foreshadowing of what was to come in Christ and in us through the Paraclete.

(Issues of Paul and Apostles continuing in Jewish temple purification practices are concessions they made for the sake of custom and social harmony in Jerusalem. “But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing. . . .” Circumcision is also unnecessary. Acts 21:25)

I wish you peace in this season that celebrates God’s incarnation.

Mormon Passerby said...

Jose,

Your impediment to understanding seems to be your own ability to leap to conclusions.

So I'll ask you again the question...

You are probably as familiar with temple worship as anyone else. Christ went to worship at the temple, but did he offer the incense offering like Zacharias did? Did Moses?

Why not? You tell me, and I will answer your question.

Here are the conclusions you lept to, and are not only unfounded but, if I may say so, pretty sloppy.

* "it explains a lot about what appears to be another Mormon unchristian misunderstanding about the Word becoming flesh"

Actually the question just asks you a question. It doesn't explain anything. You admit this later when you say, "though you have not provided any explanation or interpretation".


* "In short, Mormons are saying that Christians are unclean, unworthy and unfit to enter the Temple."

Again, no such explanation was offered. Yet you presumed one anyway? The question asked specifically if Christ and Moses performed the worship at the Temple as Zacharias did. Certainly Christ and Moses were not unclean, unworthy or unfit to worship in the Temple in the burning of incense. I await your answer, good Jose.

* "The veil has been rent by Christ’s sacrifice and the spilling of His blood for us and we now have free passage into the temple and the kingdom of heaven."

Access to the Mormon temple is free, and open to all who take the journey (both spiritually and physically) to get there. Just as Christ expects you to do your part to enter the kingdom of heaven, so Christ expects you to do your part to get to the Temple. But everyone can obtain it. Its actually relatively easy. Just as it always has been.

Temple worship is accessible to all God's children who come to Him as he asks, not as they want to themselves. (Again a beautiful imagery is laid out in Narnia where the boy turned dragon was healed by Azlan, on Azlan's terms). Bond, free, every race, we are all invited. Just make the steps you can make, and you will find the Redeemers light magnify your footsteps and take you there. You can't make it there without Him, but you can't make it there until you choose to follow His directions to get there either.

Just a reminder, you were asked a question about Christ and Moses, did you answer it yet in the reply you are no-doubt writing?

* "That’s the meaning of “accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior” which you confess but apparently do not understand so it’s a meaningless confession."

Oh Jose, you know better than this too. You will stand before your maker just as I will. He told his apostles that if they don't let him wash their feet, they have no place with him. He commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, and commands all his children to not just confess but to repent. And then is his redemption sufficient.

But his life's sacrifice is not to save us in our sins, they are as bad for the confessed as for the hethan. His sacrifice, our baptism, and our baptism of fire are to save us from our sins. To wash us. To purify us, as he purifies silver or gold in the fire. We don't deserve the second chance, but he not only offers it but countless more chances. We need only come to him in repentance, be baptized even as was required to be baptized being perfect, and we need to receive His spirit (as you mention later though omitted here) and follow Him. Don't count yourself done at just confessing, for in the Bible we learn that the devils confess and believe that Jesus is the Christ. But it is only on the lives of those who follow the principles of the Bible that we see the fullness of his Gospel.

You are on the journey, you can get there. You have a desire to worship in the Temple, that is great. You can already worship at the Sunday services, and soon your journey will take you to the Temple.

* "renounce false teachings that distort Christ’s message and reduce Him to a mere mortal in need of spiritual growth"

And good Jose, if you were only listening. If you only paid attention to the many times that I pointed out that Christ was Jehovah. The God of Isaac, Jacob and Abraham. The great I am who lead Israel out of Egypt. I am in need of spiritual growth. As Gruntled noted, Christ bore mortality only to show us the way, as a condescension to our circumstance to show us the way out and back. He paid for our sins, so we could follow him back, so we weren't dead forever to Him as Paul notes.

We know of his life, his growth (as born witness of by Luke and John), and his perfect example. And I bear witness of them to you as pronounced in the Book of Mormon, that he is God, he was God, and will ever by God. It is sad that though this has been re-affirmed even with direct passages of the Book of Mormon that you believe what you want to believe anyway.

* "Ultimately, it is you who must be God’s temple in which the Spirit of Christ should reign."

True. I believe the statement of the fullness of the Gospel being found in the lives of people who live the principles is another way to say just that. Temple worship, ultimately enables this to happen even more than happens without it. If the Spirit were not to come ... well you know the rest.

Did you remember to answer the question about Christ and Moses yet?

In my shoes, you would see a very interesting picture. You would see just how ignorant your statements about Mormon theology (which has been shown plenty in the course of this discussion), and the contents of the Book of Mormon are. I am convinced you haven't read the book because your statements about it have been so off base.

You would see that for me to cast off the virtue and truth I've received from God, for the reasons you've offered, would be to deny the faith. It would be to step away from the noon day sun and walk after the path of the blind (and I say blind as you seem so ignorant about what I believe and what the Book of Mormon teaches).

I hope you will do better, to learn more about the people you condemn so freely, so smugly, and so proudly. With all thy getting, get understanding Jose.

José Solano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
José Solano said...

My dear Mormon Passerby, I will be getting you a response as soon as I have the time.

op-ed said...

Mormons believe Jesus Christ is divine and that they are dependent on Him for salvation. That's the very definition of Christian. They don't believe in the Holy Trinity, but considering the word "Trinity" isn't anywhere in the Bible, I'm willing to cut them some slack on that point. And contrary to Gruntled's theory that they try to hide this fact from the general public, the ones I know are pretty up front about not believing in the Trinity.

Gruntled's conspiracy theory about Mormons believing one thing but preaching something different is too much like the attacks we get at Opine for me to believe it here. At Opine the attacks are motivated by identity politics and I don't see any different here.

Identity politics is an attempt to weaken us by dividing us against each other. It creates an us-vs.-them mentality when what we really need right now is to unite in defense of what is right. Families are under attack right now more than they ever have been in history. Mormons are on the right side of that issue and that's what's important.

If you want to go convert a Mormon to believing in the Trinity, go ahead and do it, but do it by explaining what it means and why you believe it is true, not by belittling or demeaning what Mormons believe and certainly not by telling them what they believe or accusing them of some oddball conspiracy. We should be more interested in standing for what is right than in what label to affix to what person and dishonest tactics have no part in standing for the truth.

Gruntled said...

I don't believe Mormons are conspiring to hide anything. I think most ordinary Mormons, like most ordinary Christians, don't care that much about the fine points of theology. The fundamental division between Mormons and Christians, as I see it, is not in the saving action of Christ, but on the fundamental nature of God. Christians think God is eternally divine, a being quite unlike any other. Mormons think God was a man who became divine.

op-ed said...

Gruntled: The fundamental division between Mormons and Christians, as I see it, is not in the saving action of Christ,

Well then, that pretty much settles the whole Christian or not thing then, don't you think?

Mormons think God was a man who became divine.

Like I said, I'll trust our Mormon friends to speak for themselves on what they actually believe. I'm uncomfortable arguing by putting words in other peoples' mouths.

José Solano said...

Some clarifications to keep things in perspective. We are having a discussion regarding whether or not Mormons are Christians. Mormons say they are. We who accept the Nicene Creed say they are not. The Nicene Creed is accepted by Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Mennonites, Baptists, Amish, etc. It is not accepted by Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Unitarians, etc.

We can also identify numerous beliefs and values held in common by those adhering to the Nicene Creed that are not accepted by those who reject this creed. Interestingly enough there are those Christians who accept the Nicene Creed who do not believe that everyone who believes in the Creed is a Christian, as in itself it is of course insufficient. And there are even those Christians who reject the recitation or mention of the Creed while believing in what it says, sometimes unbeknownst to themselves.

What the Nicene Creed does is essentially encapsulate, formulate some basic beliefs about God held by Christians whether or not they accept the actual wording of the Creed. Belief in the meaning of the Creed existed even before the Creed was formulated at the Council of Nicea. It is not directly mentioned in the Bible and is derived from much study of the Scriptures.

Now I found this interesting link suggesting how Mormons might recompose the Nicene Creed. Is there some truth to the way this has been stated? See http://www.this-side-of-glory.com/archives/if-the-lds-took-a-red-pen-to-the-creed/

We are having an intellectual, theological discussion and we are not impugning anyone’s integrity or sincerity. I’m happy to see my colleague Op Ed from the Opine Editorials weigh in on the issue. At Opine people of diverse beliefs work together in defense of marriage. We could even include Buddhists like the Dalai Lama, Moslems, etc. who also defend marriage through reasoned discourse.

I’ll shortly try to respond directly to you dear Mormon Passerby as you asked a question for the question I posed and then didn’t like my response, which you didn’t quite understand. Yours is a question that could have numerous responses. Your lengthy response with its varied pathos and personal criticisms may not be addressed in full but I’ll try to point out some key problems as time permits.

I am running to and fro during this busy Christmas season and we haven’t cut our Christmas tree or put up any lights yet. Today needs to be the day.

Peace.

op-ed said...

José: Mormons say they are. We who accept the Nicene Creed say they are not.

Shouldn't the question then be whether Mormons are Creedians, as in professing a belief in the Creed, and not about whether they are Christian, as in professing a belief in Christ?

José Solano said...

Op Ed, we believe the two are inseparable. A creed is nothing more than a statement of one’s belief, so to say we are not “creedians” is the same as saying we are not believers.

As children in Catechism we are taught that when asked what we believe we respond with, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth . . . . And in one Lord Jesus Christ . . . . God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God .” For the complete text and a thorough history of its formulation see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11049a.htm.

As we get older and study this confession we recognize its thorough biblical foundation and we’re thankful for the wisdom that composed this distillation of the Christian foundational belief. And by foundational I mean that this is only the beginning of the Christian discipleship, right after accepting Christ as one's Lord and Savior.

Peace.

Mormon Passerby said...

It was the product of a conference and vote, and we all know what design by committee means.

I still think the Nicaean creed is a Christian work, because it was the best try His followers at the time could do. But to say that defines Christianity is believing in the divine authority of an unbaptized militaristic emperor who through intrigue brought about a very tenuous and un-understandable compromise amidst a very intense debate. For the Nicaean Creed, if we are to believe Jose, seems to supersede the New Testament for defining the attributes of God.

Is it really heresy to follow the New Testaments teachings of who Christ is, because of a committee driven compromise and establishment of orthodoxy many centuries after the fact?

This sounds too much like what Elias did to the Franciscans, who made Francis himself scared of being kicked out of his own order. And indeed did jail and kick out many of the earliest and fondest friends of Francis.

I do not fault the creed for what it is, it is a political masterpiece of a work built in a time of embroiled debate and fracturing in Christiandom. But who will stand up and say it is better to learn from the New Testament ourselves who God is, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost whom He has sent. I say far better, far more knowable, and far more authoritative. (I know, Jose feels they are one and the same, but the New Testament teaches of a very crucial relationship between Christ, his Father, and the Holy Ghost that as the link explains, is meaningful and marvelous.)

We worship this season a babe born in Bethlehem -- the Son of God. Who we learn from John the Apostle as well as the Book of Mormon (quoted to no reply or acknowledgment above) was God and was with God. One who prayed to His Father, and did the works he saw his Father do. Who are one, in the same way He prayed his apostles would be one. All those clear messages from the New Testament are doctrines that are glossed over, explained away, or simply ignored by the Nicaean creed. And the above link has this and more.

As a declaration of faith in an age that desperately required faith, I have nothing against the Nicaean creed, and even celebrate its inception. But they lose me when that declaration is used as an establishment of orthodoxy above the canonized scripture of the Apostles and Christ himself.

And Jose, if you did answer the question about Christ worshiping in the Temple of his day, or Moses in the Tabernacle of his day, in the same incense burning that Zacharias did, please restate plainly. For it looks to me like you tried to answer for me rather than yourself. I know my answer, and am interested in yours.

Mormon Passerby said...

Gruntled, you said again, "Christians think God is eternally divine" which is also what Mormons believe. There was never a time that there wasn't God. There was never a time God was not divine. You continued, "a being quite unlike any other" which seems to lose the finer points of Biblical statements which are unequivocally liken man to God. It glosses over the simple statement Christ uttered, what manner of men aught we to be? Even as His Father is. Its these extra-biblical requirements, Gruntled, which keep losing me.

You also continued, "Mormons think God was a man who became divine." That we can emulate God, that we look forward to the day spoken of that "he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is". This obviously does not make God any less divine. Nor does it mean there was ever a time without God, and never a time God was not divine. I say unequivocally that there is no Mormon doctrine of a primordial evolution where some man started this whole thing off by figuring out on his own how to become god.

Better to understand the doctrine which is there, as I have cautioned Jose.

op-ed said...

José: Op Ed, we believe the two are inseparable.

José, I understand the importance of The Creed, its antiquity and reverence, but I believe our Mormon friends would do you the courtesy of calling you "non-Mormon" or some such for not believing in their book rather than "non-Christian." I see no reason to be on the lower road here.

José Solano said...

Well, many statements have been made and with my time constraints I cannot immediately respond to all. I’ll select a few to address.

Mormon Passerby. You state that “to say that defines Christianity is believing in the divine authority of an unbaptized militaristic emperor.” This coming from someone who believes in the “divine authority” of a 19th century polygamist is rather peculiar. It does show that you need to get the facts on what transpired at the Council of Nicea. Constantine did not write the Nicene Creed he merely convened a council that consisted of some 300 bishops from all over the world. It is they who by nearly unanimous consensus worked out the Creed. We know that three bishops disagreed.

We cannot reopen the entire Athanasius-Arius controversy here, important as it might be to study. The political motivations and machinations of Constantine are another issue. Suffice it to say that the Nicene Creed is one of the dividing lines between Christians and Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Moslems, Unitarians, etc. Moslems accept Mohammed as the supreme prophet and Mormons seem to accept Joseph Smith as theirs.

Now, Mormon Passerby, it’s time for you to show your hand. I gave you my response to your question and you didn’t like it. You may not like another response which I would give so it’s your turn to provide the answer you wish to hear. I’ll tell you if I agree or not or if it’s relevant to the questions I’ve been asking you. I don’t have that much time to play hide and seek.

Op Ed. Where do you draw the line to determine when someone is non-Christian? Are Jehovah Witnesses, Moslems or Unitarians non-Christians? I know that certain Protestants not only call the Catholic Church non-Christian but the actual seat of the anti-Christ. Yet the Catholic Church still considers them Christians, albeit very theologically confused.

The importance of the Creed is not its antiquity or “reverence” but its meaning. The meaning of the Creed existed long before its was succinctly formulated.

By referring to someone as non-Christian it is not automatically assumed that he may not obtain salvation, though he is certainly at risk.

op-ed said...

José: Where do you draw the line to determine when someone is non-Christian?

A Christian is a disciple of Jesus and believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Messiah prophesied of in the Old Testament, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, who died for our sins and was resurrected.

I have said as much already.

Are Jehovah Witnesses, Moslems or Unitarians non-Christians?

Ask them.

The meaning of the Creed existed long before its was succinctly formulated.

It is, nonetheless, an interpretation of the Bible, not the Bible itself. Not everyone understands the Bible correctly, but I believe it is important everyone try just the same and not be derided for it. If one truly believes in Christ, one believes all those who sincerely seek Him will find Him.

John 8:
"31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
"32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

José Solano said...

“The meaning of the Creed existed long before its was succinctly formulated.

It is, nonetheless, an interpretation of the Bible, not the Bible itself. Not everyone understands the Bible correctly, but I believe it is important everyone try just the same and not be derided for it.” Op Ed.

No one said the Nicene Creed is the Bible. No one has been derided for reading the Bible.

“A Christian is a disciple of Jesus and believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Messiah prophesied of in the Old Testament, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, who died for our sins and was resurrected.”

This is true But, if a person states the above and has sixteen wives that his church consecrated, he’s a Christian?

Or if he confesses the above and marries someone of the same-sex through his church (UCC), he’s a Christian?

But what is problematic about Mormon views is not the biblical teachings that they hold in common with Christians but all the add-ons that come through Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, etc. Beliefs such as:

"The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it, and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people would be damned and cut off from this time henceforth. We have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction."

I’m sure that knowledgeable Mormons can detail better than I the numerous add-ons that are not found in the New Testament. Maybe you can explain celestial marriages for instance and ideas about “companions” in eternity and polygamy in the afterlife.

If LDS has rejected the teaching of polygamy my question is were Joseph Smith and Bringing Young Christians when they taught that polygamy was to be practiced? A yes answer of course means that one can be a polygamist and a Christian.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed . . . .” John 8:31

José Solano said...

Sorry, that should have been Brigham not "Bringing."

Mormon Passerby said...

Well Jose,

Not only has John the beloved, Christ, Moses and others not met your test for Christian, but now you have thrown out David, Abraham and Jacob for having plural wives.

What an amazingly arrogant ability to pronounce yourself exalted in authority above them. What amazingly unbiblical restrictions you have there.

As was said in John 8, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed..."

Jose also said, "Maybe you can explain celestial marriages for instance and ideas about “companions” in eternity"

Or I will let Peter explain it, "Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."

Or Paul, "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord."

Heirs together of the grace of life, neither is without the other in the Lord. God joined Adam and Eve, and me and my wife. The Preacher states, "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him."

Mark quotes Christ even more specifically on this topic, "And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they wain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

Christ specifically states the authority given his Apostles is not an earthly power like is practiced in marriage by so many churches. Peter is the rock, and Christ then says, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

And I do not think I can let you off honestly without answering that question. If I missed your answer, I do apologize, but I do not see it. Perhaps someone can point out the answer you left to the question:

You also asked about Temple worship. As with Christ answering, I will first ask you a question. You are probably as familiar with temple worship as anyone else. Christ went to worship at the temple, but did he offer the incense offering like Zacharias did? Did Moses?

Why not? You tell me, and I will answer your question.

Did Moses? Elijah? Samuel? Take your time, do a good answer. I wish you the best Jose, and wish you the merriest season celebrating the advent of our Lord and Savior. If you choose to wait until after the season, go with God. And answer when you can give it a real clear and definitive treatment. I mean that sincerely. You are a good soul, I enjoy our talk of Christ.

José Solano said...

Dear Mormon Passerby,

Our conversation can continue on the high ground if you avoid throwing in personal insults for a dramatic effect buttressing varied repetitions and ludicrous assertions.

Please do not merely throw Bible verses at me since you must be aware that all of Christendom interprets the ones you cite differently from the way you and Mormons do. What exactly are you saying? Are you defending polygamy in a Christian home with the verses you cite? Please start your answer with a yes or a no.

Also, please reread my last comment.

I will tell you simply that in the Old Testament they did many things that under Christ we can no longer do. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young came after the New Testament teaching was given to us.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed . . . .” John 8:31

Mormon Passerby said...

Jose,

We do have different interpretations, that is evident. But I have only used scriptures to help you better understand the answers to questions you have asked me. Not in my words but those of the apostles who we both revere. That is fair enough, I believe.

Ask God and find out for yourself, I trust in your relationship with Him. But be careful that you do not break the laws of God with your laws, or wind up condemning those God has called as prophets and the commandments he has given them. I am very serious in my admonishment that you do not play the role Elias did in establishing and preserving a Franciscan orthodoxy.

José Solano said...

Dear Mormon Passerby,

I’m afraid that your approach to discussion simply will not work. It is one thing to make a clear statement and then support it with scriptural passages and another to simply toss scripture quotes. I could just as well hand you the Bible and tell you that’s what I believe, so there.

I have stated my position clearly which is in the essentials the same as that of Christendom in general, but different from that of Mormons because of their Christology, false prophets, and spurious add-ons.

Be assured that my admonishment to you is thoroughly serious. Renounce false teachings and false prophets and accept without adulteration what the New Testament reveals about Christ and his way.

Thank you for bringing to my attention Elias and the Franciscans. I knew nothing about him and what he did among the Franciscans has nothing whatsoever with anything I am doing. Indeed, any comparison you are making between Elias of Cortona and myself is nothing more than an ad hominem. I could just as well be comparing you with Judas Iscariot, which I am not.

Peace.

Mormon Passerby said...

Jose,

What you write is very sad to hear. You haven't really appealed to the scriptures, (I remember one attempt you needed to be reminded what it really said as also "with God"). And now you seem to show little faith in appeal to what they say, perhaps now much less so since I've provided them for your edification. And short of an authoritative appeal to scripture you also seem reluctant to believe in our ability to gain direct revelation from God on these matters. And you certainly seem willing to trample the pearls I've received from Him in my own efforts to do the same.

What source do you think to be coming from to turn away from the scriptures and personal answers to prayers, or at least to just try to turn me away from them?

José Solano said...

My dear Mormon Passerby,

The source I am coming from is the Bible and the essential teaching of all Christendom, e.g., Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Mennonite & Amish, Baptist, Reformed Churches, Adventist, etc. They all fully agree with what I have been saying. The source you are coming from is that of the polygamists Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc. The Jehovah Witnesses and Unitarians are outside the Christian teaching but at least they are not proclaiming false prophets.

As Gruntled has said, “Mormons are Fine People, But Not Christians.” Moslems and Buddhists are fine people, but not Christians. As I’ve said, I would still rather vote for Mormon Mitt Romney than Christian Hillary Clinton. I would also prefer the Dalai Lama.

Do reread what I have written.

My prayers are with you.

Peace.

op-ed said...

José: They all fully agree with what I have been saying.

José, I write this not for your sake but for the sake of those who might read what you say and think you represent any part of Christianity. You do not. You do not speak for all Christianity and you certainly do not speak for me.

The Jehovah Witnesses and Unitarians are outside the Christian teaching

Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples [Christians] indeed," not "if ye continue in José's word..."

Christians welcome all who would follow Christ to do so. Take what you understand of Him and follow His teachings. Your understanding may not be the same as mine, but if you sincerely seek after Him, He will not abandon you. He will not berate, demean or exclude you because your understanding is not yet perfect. But instead, He will show you truth. And when you come to understand more truth, then follow it, and if you continue to seek after Him then you will find Him. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." That is His promise.

Gruntled said...

Jose, would you really prefer the Dalai Lama as president of the United States (ignoring the Constitutional impossibility) to Hillary Clinton?

José Solano said...

Hi Gruntled,

I thought that might bring my latte-sipping, Birkenstocks, intellectual Democrat friend into the discussion. I recognize the impossibility of the Dalai Lama becoming president but I certainly would vote for him over Clinton or Romney if it were possible. I also realize that he would probably be promptly assassinated if he were elected. You see, like the Dalai Lama, Jesus and His apostles I am a pacifist. Like Jesus and the apostles the Dalai Lama is also opposed to homosexual conduct and abortion. I do not accept his reincarnation views but these should not interfere with his presidency anymore than imagining there were horses, cows and pigs in the Americas before Columbus would be a hindrance.

I think the Dalai Lama is a person of greater integrity than any of the present presidential candidates.

I am, believe it or not, a liberal Democrat myself and would certainly vote for Hillary if she gave up her abortion and pro-homosexual conduct, civil union views. Those errors are so damaging that I would vote for Romney over her. But we have a long ways to go before seeing who the candidates will be.

Gruntled said...

You would take Romney over Huckabee on those criteria?

José Solano said...

For the general reader.

“… It isn’t correct to call Mormons Protestants, because doing so implies they hold to the essentials of Christianity—what C. S. Lewis termed "mere Christianity." The fact is, they don’t.” (http://www.catholic.com/library/Distinctive_Beliefs_of_Mormon.asp)

“It is time for Mormons to come to grips with the Christ of the Holy Scriptures and the Church of history. There is no question now that the core Mormon beliefs cannot withstand the evidence of history, genetics, and archaeology.” http://labarum.net/?cat=17

For Anglican-Mormon differences see http://kotaraang.angelfire.com/Mormonism.pdf


Why Mormons are not Christians:
http://cnview.com/on_line_resources/are_mormons_christian.htm
http://www.afcministry.com/Are_Mormons_Christians.htm

“The Mormons' doctrines of baptism, salvation, and the afterlife place them at odds with centuries of Christian teaching in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/9r2/9r2068.html

Of course whether Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Unitarians, varied Gnostics, etc. are Christians depends on how you understand Christianity and the Bible teaching. Bart Ehrman’s book Lost Christianities speaks from the perspective that Christian you are if you say you are. So the Sethian Gnostics who wrote the Gospel of Judas are Christians. Perhaps Op Ed agrees with this. I don’t accept it and neither do the churches I mentioned earlier. I agree with Gruntled: “Mormons are Fine People, But Not Christians.”

********
I’m not sure who I would vote for president and probably will not make up my mind till after the primary. At the moment I might actually favor John McCain as he might be the only one that can defeat Hillary Clinton. A McCain/Huckabee ticket would be dynamite.

If I do not think there is a clear higher moral ground between the two final contenders I might not vote at all. Many of my Mennonite brethren do not vote as they do not see much of salvation significance in the process. I agree with them on the salvation part but do believe it can make some difference here on earth while were hanging around.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed . . . .” John 8:31

Peace.

Mormon Passerby said...

It seems striking the difference in appeal here. There is no difficulty in finding support for Mormon doctrines in the Bible.

And there is no difficulty for Jose to find popular support for his charges -- in anti-mormon websites.

Again, look at the source.

José Solano said...

Sorry Mormon Passerby but there is nothing in the Bible supporting the events listed in the Book of Mormon. It is purely a work of fiction. And there is nothing Christian about the polygamous practices of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, et al.

Please don’t appeal to adversarial and antagonistic commentary by talking about “anti-mormon” websites. These are Catholic, Anglican, etc. websites expounding on why Mormons are not Christians. These are Christians who love people of the Mormon faith even if they disagree with their beliefs. We are not anti-Jew or anti-Moslem because we do not agree with their theology.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed . . . .” John 8:31

Yours for Christ’s sake.

José Solano said...

Another un-Christian doctrine of Mormon’s, held until 1978, discriminated against blacks in the priesthood. “And ‘Mormon America,’ which was just re-released, notes plainly that ‘Mormon teaching against race-mixing remains in force.’”

Here’s an interesting summary of that history from today's Wall Street Journal’s editorial page (Fri. Dec. 21, 2007): http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110011023

In time it is possible that Mormon’s will receive or accept additional “revelations” that will bring them fully into the Christian faith. Let us so pray.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed . . . .” John 8:31

Mormon Passerby said...

Jose you said that there is nothing in the Bible to support the events in the Book of Mormon. That is an unfortunately ignorant statement, much like the rest he has said. In some ways the Book of Mormon records unique events, and in some ways corroborates events and doctrines in the Bible (and so does the Bible with the Book of Mormon).

But lets also add to the list that there is nothing in the Bible supporting these other events...

* That Peter was ever the Bishop of Rome (in fact from what the Bible records it seems he only visited there)
* That the stigmata is a sign of Christian emulation (Christ noted the signs of the believers, and seemed to skip that one)
* That God has stopped talking to his children through prophets (Amos teaches that God will do nothing except he first reveals it to his Prophets.)
* That the Bible is the only written work God we would ever have recorded as scripture. (The Bible actually references many scriptures that are no longer a part of the Bible. And prophesies of more scriptures to come.)
* That Christianity requires adherence to the Nicaean Creed (or that voting among Bishops is a way to divine the mind and will of God since in reference to what Amos said above.)
* That Temple worship would be done away (in fact the prophesies of Ezekiel and Isaiah promise that there will continue Temple worship through the second coming of our Lord and Savior)
* Christ was a pacifist. He is confusing Christianity with Jainism. (While there were many times he did not take aggressive action, he said himself he brought a sword to pit even family members against each other, killed fig tree, and in the old testament caused many plagues and punishments that at one point nearly wiped out all humans on the planet).

The main point again is that Jose, like Elias of the Franciscans, is so zealous to create a criteria of worship that he is inadvertently casting off things we know from the scriptures are true.

He is not referencing the scriptures, but websites talking about concepts and ideas that they know little about. And are antagonistic towards Mormons, just as Jose has been. And yet they both have expended only the basest of energies to understand.

Jose, you keep quoting the phrase that Op-Ed quoted to you. Perhaps soon you will realize its meaning is not that I should adhere to your mistaken views of Christianity (and what other group of people you got them from), but to apply to Christ for my salvation.


I do not know why Jose is so adamant in his views. I know his views are not Christs on the matter.

(Oh and perhaps if expanding the priesthood is a sign of a false faith, why so many Christian faiths extended the priesthood to women and in Old Testament times limited it to just one lineage.) Again Jose is playing the same game that we see Christ rebuke in the pharisees, of straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

José Solano said...

—My dear Mormon Passerby,

You fail to respond to any of the major criticisms that I, and the varied Christian denominations I cited, make demonstrating why Mormons are not Christians. You must realize that though you wish to isolate me as if what I have been saying is not the position of Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Mennonites, Adventists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Orthodox, etc., it is really futile effort. These are all denominations that recognize God as a being of three Persons in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and this is derived from a non-simplistic understanding of the Bible. We all also thoroughly reject the Book of Mormon as a fictitious writing of no historical value. Likewise we all reject your Mormon prophets. Your case must be against all of us, and not just José, because we all speak with one voice on this matter.

Certainly the denominations cited have differences with each other but they all agree in what I have stated regarding Mormons.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed . . . .” John 8:31

You bring up interesting matters that could be addressed but they are not all germane to the issue of why Mormons are not Christians and the discussion on these would take us too far off. Perhaps it would be helpful for you to understand that I am a Mennonite and not a Catholic though I think very highly of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations. I have a fairly ecumenical approach but know where to draw the line. I may soon need to draw the line on ECUSA as it lapses into flagrant heresy. Much of its flock is already fleeing to more wholesome pastures.

This is not the place for me to go into the Scriptural details that demonstrate that the teaching of Christ is pure pacifism. Your comments to the contrary show how far off you are in your understanding of the New Testament. Do spend more time pondering the Sermon on the Mount.

I have said what I needed to say on this matter and I don’t think I am about to convert you. At this point we may only be going around in circles.

I am your friend and I wish you nothing but God’s blessings. I’m certain we have many things in common, particularly in ethical principles, so that in our own ways we will work together towards important social goals.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

op-ed said...

José: ...because we all speak with one voice on this matter.

Again, José does not speak for Chistianity. He is, in fact, behaving in a very un-Christian, un-Christlike fashion. Please don't judge Christianity by José.

José: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed . . . .” John 8:31

José, please do not profane the scriptures with your vain repetition. Seeing, you see not. Hearing, you understand not. You trample underfoot that which is Holy because of your pride.

José: details that demonstrate that the teaching of Christ is pure pacifism.

If you truly believed that, then you are choosing not to follow Christ when you attack the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Unitarians.

José Solano said...

Oh well, it looks like it's all out ad hominem time.

Adiós.

Mormon Passerby said...

Jose accused, "You fail to respond to any of the major criticisms that I, and the varied Christian denominations I cited".

You are completely out of ideas, and now are simply trying to ignore what I said? Please repeat, and provide a link, to a major criticism that was not responded to.

Jose charged, "you wish to isolate me as if what I have been saying is not the position of Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Mennonites, Adventists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Orthodox, etc.,"

Actually Jose, one of the problems here is that you keep trying to tell me my own position. I've gone through great lengths to explain my position amidst your incorrect assumptions. I recognize you as a Christian as well as the others you cite. I wouldn't dream of isolating you from their teachings. Yet I find it so unbecoming that they spend so much time on their websites trying to isolate Mormons from the Christian brotherhood.

That is okay, Mormons are a peculiar people. Good people, and you have to credit the doctrines they teach with the good that they do. Christ is in all good things, in every good gift. That might be the closest we will come to objective proof that Mormons are Christians. As I mentioned before, I find these doctrines to be beautiful (you called them simplistic), I find them to be enriching to bringing me closer to Christ (you called them "false teachings and false prophets" and problematic).

I find them to be true, and have faith that God who loves his children will directly answer inquiries of others sincerely seeking the truth of them for themselves. You have pointed to political compromises, anti-mormon websites, and even science -- as if it were the same as divine authority.

Now, go have a good Christmas holiday. Don't fret that Mormons also have a close relationship with Christ, and seek his grace, and his love diligently through His gifts for the whole world. And if you get a chance, read the Book of Mormon, because it really is a great book. You'll understand more about it and Mormons after reading it than hundreds of anti-mormon websites.

Mormon Passerby said...

BTW,

about John 8, I am absolutely baffled why Jose keeps quoting it. It gives me confidence, knowing that I am following Him (even to the standards of believing the Bible, and in looking to Christ for salvation that all other Christians do). It does not mention the Nicaean Creed, it does not mention whether the Book of Mormon is true or not, it simply mentions if you follow Him, you are his disciple.

So, Jose, thanks for your gift of confidence this Holiday season. And that it conflicts with your own points, is your own issue to deal with.

op-ed said...

Mormon: I find them to be true, and have faith that God who loves his children will directly answer inquiries of others sincerely seeking the truth of them for themselves.

My Mormon friend, as long as you put your faith in Christ and continue to seek after him, I count you my Christian brother. I know He is faithful and will not abandon you. Put your trust in Him and not in the arm of flesh and you shall know the truth. My profile has my email address. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Go with God.