Saturday, June 14, 2008

front porch evangelism and arctic tundra

SA - Program Note: Tony stories returns this Sunday
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Any Way Saturday

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Who’s That Knocking on the Door?
Research Examines the Faith of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses
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May 12, 2008
(Ventura, California) - Two religious groups, in particular, are known for knocking on people’s front door to discuss religious beliefs: Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. While both groups consider themselves to be Christian, many organizations have labeled each a cult in response to some of their unorthodox beliefs and practices. A new study from The Barna Group explores the religious and demographic background of these two groups and shows that they differ significantly from the born again Christian population in a variety of respects.

A Profile of Jehovah’s Witnesses

About the only perspective that Witnesses share with the larger body of born again Christians is a belief that their religious faith is very important in their life, a view held by nine out of ten people from both groups. After that point of concurrence, the gap widens. [rest of article]

A Profile of Mormons

The Mormon faith perspective parallels the prevailing born again view in various ways. For instance, more than nine out of ten Mormons have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that they describe as being important in their life; nine out of ten say their religious faith is very important in their life; and two-thirds affirm the sinless life of Christ on earth. [rest of article]

Religion and the Fine Line

George Barna, who conducted the research and presented the findings, noted that in the religious world seemingly small matters can make a big difference. "All three of these groups claim to be Christian, uphold the importance of faith and spirituality, are active in their churches, generally believe in the same God, and accept the holiness of Jesus Christ," Barna commented. "Beyond that, there are huge difference related to central doctrines such as the means to eternal salvation or the reliability and authority of the Bible. Millions of adults, however, shut the door when Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses come visiting without having any real idea what they or we believe - or caring enough to pursue such insights." [rest of article]

About the Research

This report is based upon telephone interviews conducted by The Barna Group with a series of nationwide random samples among adults, from which interviews with 323 Mormons and 186 Jehovah’s Witnesses were isolated for analysis. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample of Mormons is ±5.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample of Jehovah’s Witnesses is ±7.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. [rest of article]

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What do you think? Any comments?

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Caution: slippery when wet

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Mormons Are Christian said...

The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Evangelical pastors of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion This article helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity's theology relating to baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

I think George Barna was correct in saying we all believe in the same God, and that Jesus Christ was Divine.

• Baptism: .

Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified.
The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing them.

• The Trinity: .

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration?

The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one."

Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .

Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”

Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, "The Son of God became man, that we might become God." . The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

• The Deity of Jesus Christ

Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless.

• The Cross and Christ’s Atonement: .

The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.

• Definition of “Christian”: .

But Mormons don’t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. They believe Christ’s atonement applies to all mankind. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer.

It’s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. . Early Christians had certain rituals which defined a Christian , which members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue today. . If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

• The Parallel with the “Rise of Christianity”

Rodney Stark in his book “The Rise of Christianity” found parallels with the rise of Mormonism:
A similar growth rate (40 percent for Christianity, and 43 percent for Mormonism) for both nascent religious movements. Conversions proceeded along social networking lines, primarily. While Christianity retained Jews’ belief in the Old Testament, Mormonism retains Creedal Christians’ belief in both the New and Old Testaments. The Romans martyred the Christian leaders, the mobs in Missouri and Illinois martyred the Mormon leaders. In both cases, they expected the fledgling movements to fail without their leaders.

• The Need for a Restoration of the Christian Church:

The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this:

"There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America, p. 502.)

Martin Luther had similar thoughts: "Nor can a Christian believer be forced beyond sacred Scriptures,...unless some new and proved revelation should be added; for we are forbidden by divine law to believe except what is proved either through the divine Scriptures or through Manifest revelation."

He also wrote: "I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. The spiritual powers have been not only corrupted by sin, but absolutely destroyed; so that there is now nothing in them but a depraved reason and a will that is the enemy and opponent of God. I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among
those who should have preserved it."

The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession.

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• Christ-Like Lives:

The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):

1. Attend Religious Services weekly
2. Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life – extremely important
3. Believes in life after death
4. Does NOT believe in psychics or fortune-tellers
5. Has taught religious education classes
6. Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline
7. Sabbath Observance
8. Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith
9. Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily
10. Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen (very supportive)
11. Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality

LDS Evangelical
1. 71% 55%
2. 52 28
3. 76 62
4. 100 95
5. 42 28
6. 68 22
7. 67 40
8. 72 56
9. 50 19
10. 65 26
11. 84 35

So what do you think the motivation is for the Evangelical preachers to denigrate the Mormon Church? You would think Evangelical preachers would be emulating Mormon practices (a creed to believe, a place to belong, a calling to live out, and a hope to hold onto) which were noted by Methodist Rev. Kenda Creasy Dean of the Princeton Theological Seminary, as causing Mormon teenagers to “top the charts” in Christian characteristics. (see It seems obvious pastors shouldn't be denigrating a church based on First Century Christianity, with high efficacy. The only plausible reason to denigrate Mormons is for Evangelical pastors to protect their flock (and their livelihood).

Anonymous said...

When I was still in highschool (many, many moons ago), a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on our door one Saturday afternoon in the summer. I answered the door since I was the only one at home.

I remember his first words clear as a bell..."Have you found Jesus?" Being the smart-alec highschooler, I answered, "I didn't know I lost Him." and shut the door. Granted, I could have been a bit more polite, but they used to come around EVERY MONTH!

That moment continues to stay in my mind like a photographic memory log.

In the past few years, I've been reading & learning more about the Catholic faith. I think it is a shame that we don't really KNOW and UNDERSTAND our faith as we should. I should be able to ask them to enter my home (or meet them on the porch) and be able to defend my faith through teachings, the Bible, Jesus' words, the Holy Spirit. My faith should be the center of my life...

Because of this, I have been doing much more reading, learning, and praying about my faith. I pray that someday, somewhere, I will be ready to invite them in and be a witness to them about the CATHOLIC Faith! How great would that be??

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Within the past four or five years, the Vatican has ruled that Mormon baptisms are invalid--which means that, whatever they are, they aren't Christians.

I think the best way to describe Mormons is that they are a Christo-pagan cult. Much like Voodoo practitioners they have Christian symbols and trappings about them, but they are using these to camoflage pagan beliefs.

Mormons Are Christian said...

Mormons are not Creedal Christians, as are all Protestants and Catholics. However, (see above post), Mormons are New Testament Christians. They are simply another type of Christian. Please don't use derogatory terms. Mormons never use them for other faiths.

New Testament Christians are not pagans!

uncle jim said...

...they are using these to camouflage pagan beliefs.

what kinds of beliefs do they have that you categorize as pagan?

Anonymous said...

A spade is a spade and a pagan is a pagan.

Mormons may invoke Father, Son and Holy Spirit but they believe in numerous gods who rule numerous universes. In fact, Mormons believe that when they die each of them will be god of his own universe. This is polytheism. The God Christians invoke is creator and ruler of all that is. The god the Mormons invoke is just another god who happens to rule this universe and happens to have a son named Jesus.

I think most of the problem with Mormons is that they've saddled themselves with the Book of Mormon which has all kinds of flights of fantasy that don't square with the Bible or legitimate Church tradition. They want to be Christians but the Book of Mormon won't let them.

They're left either downplaying it or pretending it squares with the Bible. Or blathering about being "New Testament Christians."

Whatever. Thank Martin Luther for giving license to everyone to interpret the Bible, drop books, add books or make-up books as he or she pleases. The Mormons are just an extreme example of Protestantism devolved into paganism.

uncle jim said...

thanks for filling out your earlier comment

Mormons Are Christian said...


Why are you worried about other universes, if this one is the extent of your concern? Mormons believe in the one and only God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

At a recent conference on the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) at Yale University, the consensus of the Biblical scholars was that the Book of Mormon was NOT inconsistent with the Bible. Do you know more than they? Have you even read the Book of Mormon.

Melody K said...

The Mormons I have known have been good people who "walk the walk". I may not agree in theological particulars with them; but I'm not going to call them non-Christian.
I am reminded of Luke 9:47; "But John answered and said, 'Master, we saw a man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.' And Jesus said to him, 'Do not forbid him; for he who is not against you is for you.'"

Mormons Are Christian said...


Were Early Christians polytheists? Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, "The Son of God became man, that we might become God."

If man has the capacity to approach the status of God, doesn't it make sense, Bill, that you want for your children the intellectual and spritual legacy you have? I think our Heavenly Father wants the same for us. I don't consider that polytheism.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting because in Luke Chapter 11 (verse 23) Jesus said "He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth."

As to "Mormons are Christians" I find the conversation fruitless. It's fairly fruitless with Protestants who are innoculated with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura from any other authority than their own ability to pull chapter and verse out of the Bible.

With non-Christians like Mormons the authority gap is even wider. There is no common basis for discussion. If they get the Book of Mormon then I might as well offer "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" as "another testament of Jesus Christ" and we can just spin absurdities until we're exhausted by the exercise.

However, I will say that, as cultists go, the Mormons are better than the Krishnas.