Saturday, January 12, 2008

Moroni on the lose

Any Way Saturday
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Readers, note. Please keep your comments ecumenically sensitive. This blog is read by Catholics and Protestants alike. [Please read the 'Victory Rule' for commenting to the right in the side column.]

The following article is by a conservative mainline Protestant Publisher.

Advance Copy:

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Romney Candidacy Brings Mormonism to Public Scrutiny

The Wired Word for Sunday January 13, 2008

In the News

The fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon has presented a recurring problem for the Republican presidential candidate since 29 percent of Republicans told the Harris Poll last year that they probably or definitely would not vote for a Mormon to be president. Last Sunday, The New York Times Magazine addressed that issue in an extensive article titled "What Is It About Mormonism?"

The article pointed out that, in fact, a majority of Americans have no idea what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) -- the Mormons -- believe. While many Americans consider Mormons to be good neighbors and people of high moral values, many also have the sense that the Mormon Church, born in 1830 in the United States, has a theology that does not jibe with Christianity as understood in the mainstream churches.

The article attributed this view to several facts, including that the Mormon church once embraced polygamy (though it abandoned that practice more than a century ago) and that it has maintain a good deal of secrecy about its religious practices. What's more, when Mormon doctrines are explained, they are found on several points to be significantly different from Christianity as taught in Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches.

As one example of a different doctrine, the article quotes Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, who said, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret." Mainstream Christianity, in contrast, considers God a being wholly other than what human beings are, and not simple an exalted human.

As another example, the article points out that while LDS members believe in the Bible (the King James Version only), they have further scriptures of their own -- the Book of Mormon -- which they consider "another Testament of Jesus Christ."

The article notes that Mormons today often identify themselves as "Christians." Romney, in his speech in December designed to allay concerns about his Mormon faith, stated, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind." Most traditional Christians who examine LDS theology, however, argue that Mormonism is too different from historic Christianity to be included in that definition.

All of this, of course, raises questions about whether a candidate's religious faith should have any bearing on his electability. From a constitutional viewpoint, the religion of a candidate is supposed to make no difference. Yet clearly it does in the minds of some voters.

More on this story may be found at these links:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/magazine/06mormonism-t.html?_r=1&scp=8&sq=mormon&oref=slogin

http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=267

http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/9r2/9r2068.html

http://lds.about.com/od/basicsgospelprinciples/f/christians.htm

The Big Questions


1. We know that within Christian orthodoxy, there is a wide variance of emphases and practices. Catholics, evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Orthodox Christians do not agree with each other on every point. Even within single denominations, there are disagreements about how Christianity should be expressed and practiced. Given that range of belief and practice, how do we know when we have strayed beyond the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints?

2. A recent editorial in The Christian Century points that in line with the Constitution, Mitt Romney has insisted that "a person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith." Yet in his speech about his religion, he "went on to try to establish himself as an honorary evangelical. ... he said that he would not 'separate government from God.'" The editorial suggested that the candidate was trying to have it both ways, saying in effect, "You should vote for me because I share your faith; but insofar as I, as a Mormon, don't share your faith, then it's a private matter ..." What is your reaction?

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What do you think?
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3 comments:

Miss Emily said...

I think he needs to grow a stronger backbone and keep it at "faith is private", at least in regards to the presidency. I don't agree on his policy of joining government from God. I think the two need to be separate. This is exactly why I don't like Huckabee (besides, people who outwardly and publicly contests evolution just bug me). I'm not "rejecting because of his faith", only the way he chooses to use it. But then again, I'm not popular among other Christians in my opinions about government. Of course it would be wonderful if everyone in the country shared this faith, but the fact is that they don't, and having them follow laws in line with our faith, not theirs (or lackthereof), seems too close to past violence toward non-Christians.

As for the first question, that's a hard one. We just have to go to people WE think are wise to discuss issues. In the end, we alone are making our faith decisions, but we shouldn't make them without any input at all, whether we change on account of it or not.

uncle jim said...

em,
you're thinking pretty good there.
i especially like you going to others for input - we surely don't have it all on our own.

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