Thursday, 28 August 2008

That (Mormon) Thing You Do

Let’s face it most people don’t know what a Mormon is notwithstanding the Mormon Church’s talk of “the familiar sight of missionaries with backpacks riding their bikes”. Those of us who interest ourselves in all issues Mormon will, on the other hand, know exactly what a Mormon is, i.e. someone who believes that Joseph Smith “restored” an apostate Christianity in early 19th century America, believes that the Book of Mormon is a work of Scripture, and that Mormonism is led by prophets who get revelations from God.

In an article at in the Mormon Times those good old boys at FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) argue otherwise. Answering the question “What’s Wrong with Calling the FLDS Mormon?” they go on to offer an apologetic that demonstrates how you might have your cake and eat it. It’s that (Mormon) thing they do that so often gets people worked up and this is a prime example. They begin with the argument that “Mormon” is copyright while “Christian” is a generic term that is as broad in its definition as to, surely, allow the inclusion of Mormons. I felt moved to write.

First of all the copyright thing is audacious. On the one hand Mormons are insisting that Christians have no right to exclude Mormons and/ or control how "Christian" is defined, while on the other hand they insist that, because of copyright issues, they have every right to control totally who gets to be called Mormon and how “Mormon” is defined.

Then they insist that, while Christians have no right to be concerned about confusion ensuing from Mormons calling themselves Christians, Mormons have every right to make all possible efforts to avoid confusion when the FLDS call themselves Mormon.

To illustrate the justice of their cause they then make a most disingenuous statement that, "The term (Christian) embraces all Catholic, Protestant, Reformist and, yes, even restorationist sects like the LDS Church. That there are other restorationist sects that claim Joseph Smith Jr. is not in doubt; but if they are not members of the LDS Church, then they are not officially "Mormon," but they are Christian."

But this is simply begging the question! Once again, while insisting that Christians have no right to define "Christian" they insist that they do and (re)define it to include Mormons. This may suit them but, as they well know, it doesn't suit those of us who are Christians. There is a double standard operating right through this.

They cite different branches of the Christian faith, such as Catholic and Protestant, and sub-branches such as Methodist or Baptist and conveniently insert the name Mormon in there. But, anyone taking the trouble to ask what exactly do these branches of Christianity believe from the Bible regarding the key issues of the nature of God, the person of Jesus, the nature of man, the problem of sin, the work of the Cross, man's destiny etc. they would find a surprising degree of accord between these branches, notwithstanding important differences.

But if they were to ask the same question of Mormonism they would find irreconcilable differences between "Christianity" and Mormonism, whose teachings on all the key issues mark a substantial and inexcusable departure from what Christianity teaches and has taught for some two millennia. It is not good enough to insist that "Christian" is a title just about anyone can lay claim to no matter what the mainstream churches have to say but demand that "Mormon" is the exclusive preserve of a small sect led by a group of controlling old men in Salt Lake City.

Mormons need to get it into their heads that, "it’s not about you- it’s about Jesus and truth". We don't do what we do in this ministry because we are fascinated by Mormonism but because we are offended when error is preached as truth and the name we revere is reduced to the surname of a minor deity in a vast pantheon of gods led by an exalted man.

Mormons thump on about being "offended" and how important it is to respect others' religions (the sub text in this is respect Mormonism). Yet they have no idea how deeply offensive is their faith to Christians; what an affront it is to Christians to hear our beliefs described as "abominable" and our leaders "corrupt"; how insulting it is to be talked down to by men who haven't the first notion of what it is to respect the theological and spiritual inheritance of the Christian Church; how blasphemous we find the very idea that God was a man and men may become gods, that we cannot get into heaven without the passport of Joseph Smith.

They end with:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints belongs under the broad umbrella of Christianity because we do believe in Jesus Christ, we do preach him crucified and resurrected, we do have faith in his Atonement, we do love him for his grace and mercy, and we do trust in his eventual return.”

But it is not enough to confess someone you call Jesus if it is the wrong Jesus; it is simply heretical to dismiss the Cross in your messages as Mormon leaders are wont to do and to view the crucifixion as nothing more than a man dying; and the atonement is worthless if you haven’t the first idea of what it means. Mormonism speaks of grace and mercy but it is a worthless grace because it is a conditional mercy.

How do I know? What gives me the right? I am a Christian, I have made it my business to know and I won’t have my Lord’s name and reputation sullied and eclipsed by some false prophet from a 19th century backwoods whose whole life was dedicated to self-serving hedonism and self-aggrandisement. Offended? You bet I am!


Anonymous said...

what a chicken...don't want your prejudice revealed?

Mike's 4 Tea said...

A yeti calling me a chicken? You couldn't make it up. Perhaps you could explain exactly what you mean by your remark because I can't make head nor tail of it.