I concur wholeheartedly with this statement by Dr. Jim Garlow in his post on his church website giving his views on this issue as he asserts, “If this nation collapses in the 2010-2012 time frame, historians will have to report, if they are honest, that American fell because of silent pastors and inactive pews.”
The furor over Glenn Beck’s Mormon faith and his defense by some evangelical leaders, following closely on the heels of President Obama being called a “devout Christian,” does raise critical questions. How far can we ally ourselves with those who believe differently toward common goals without compromising our convictions? Does it matter what we believe?
We can and must stand together with Mormons on a cultural/political level as we have in particular on sanctity of life and defense of marriage issues. I pray that one day the evangelical churches will exhibit one half as much commitment of manpower and money to those causes. However, we are not just different denominations.
I’ll restate that active Mormons are not America’s problem – inactive, weak and compromised Christians are. Pastors who stay safely in their stained glass towers are. However, Mormonism is not Christianity.
In the early 1990s as we were building our state Christian Coalition organization, one of our county chapter leaders called with a dilemma. A state senator who was one of our strong conservatives and a group from her church were upset they could not serve in leadership of our chapter.
They happened to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Our bylaws stipulated that leadership of Christian Coalition should be – surprise! – Christian.
I confronted this issue at a face to face meeting with this group, including the senator, by asking a simple question to them. “As a Bible-believing, evangelical Christian who adheres to the essential doctrines of the faith but does not accept Joseph Smith as a prophet or the Book of Mormon as scripture, could I serve in leadership within a Mormon organization?”
A short silence ensued, and then a firm answer of “No” was given. In other words, I was not a “Christian” like they were. The fact is that by any definition of historic Christian doctrines and theology as compared to those that of LDS adherents, we are on a different planet.
Let’s start with the basics. Ed Decker, a former Mormon priest who converted to “real” Christianity, author of a number of books and movies including “The God Makers” asserts in “Who’s That Knocking at My Door?”:
First, understand that the Mormon Church likes to refer to itself as a Christian Sect. Sect is defined as a separate doctrinal group within a larger group. But Mormonism is NOT a separate doctrinal group within the Christian body. It teaches a different God, a different Jesus, and a different Heaven and Hell. It places the validity of the Bible in serious doubt, and proclaims new and different “Holy Scriptures.” Its eternal doctrines or “gospel” and master plan of salvation are directed by the god of this earth through a living “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” to whom the members must demonstrate total obedience.
Mormonism is correctly categorized as a CULT. Cult is defined as group or system of religious worship and ritual focusing on uncommon doctrine and a very esoteric deity. … Mormonism uses the same terms that the Christian uses, but they are not the same in meaning.
If you ask a Mormon knowledgeable in their teachings who Jesus is to them, the answer is much different than to any traditional Christian. They believe Jesus is a created being, the spirit brother of Lucifer (now known as Satan) and one of many gods. One example illustrated by Walter Martin in Kingdom of the Cults is telling:
When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organized this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken – HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom we have to do” (Brigham Young, in the Journal of Discourses, 1:50).
Martin also pointed out that, “A careful examination of the Book of Mormon reveals that it contains thousands of words from the King James Bible. In fact, verbatim quotations, some of considerable length, have caused the Mormons no end of embarrassment for many years.” It has also been materially changed more than 800 times with “new revelations” since it was first published – in just century and a half.
Finally, paraphrasing an old fast-food commercial, “Where’s the plates?” How is it that millennium-old manuscripts and scrolls validating the Bible continue to be found, but not one plate Joseph Smith “found” and upon which the Book of Mormon is based was ever found or seen by anyone else?
Mormonism is not Christianity, and anyone who asserts differently is either ignorant or dishonest.
So, can someone who is an adherent of a cult be a true follower of the real Jesus Christ?
Salvation is a gift of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8) as an individual, not a family, church, group or nation. Scripture states that the only criterion for a person to be saved is this:
“But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART” – that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:8-10, NASB)
If truth is not truth, if the Bible can be added to at will, if Jesus Christ is just one of many “gods,” if we will one day be a god like Him, then all that this nation was built upon is a fraud. It means we are all free to create our own reality and even our own religion.
If that is what we want as a nation, we must also accept the consequences. I will defend the vital role that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has played in fighting for our common core values. However, I will stand with my ancestors of the Christian faith to live and die upon the truth as presented in The Nicene Creed:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe in one holy catholic* and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
* – or universal
Glenn Beck could certainly be a follower of Jesus … but which Jesus? It matters. Regardless, he can be a patriotic, God-fearing American who understands the vision of our founding fathers and has given a voice and platform to strong, dynamic Christians like David Barton, Jim Garlow and others who present the real Jesus.