In Idaho Falls, Raymond’s (LDS) Charge to Todd (biblicist saint)

Raymond just posted on the group LDS blog, Times and Seasons:

Why it’s unchristian to call Mormons “not Christian”

Raymond is the lawyer (bishop?).  I am the Baptist preacher (bishop).  We both live in the same city.  This could get real interesting.

I want to talk with Raymond about his charge, via this blog.  Let me ruminate on his words, prayerfully considering them.  I will be back, dealing with this post in my next HI4LDS post.  All are welcome to join in on the discussion.

[ Some think Baptist preachers are evil incarnate.  But I promise you, I won’t unleash my fangs and bite. 🙂 ]

8 comments

  1. No, I am currently the teacher for the adult Sunday School scripture studies class in my ward (congregation). For a couple of years I was writing columns on various topics, mostly not religious, for the Idaho Falls Post-Register. I am doing a week as guest blogger at timesandseasons.org.

    I hope that the gist of the posting referred to here, in the initial post and my further explanations, is clear: Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe they are Christian, because (a) half of them used to be members of other Christian churches, and they are still just as Christian now as they ever were, (b) they are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and HolyGhost, (c) they pray to the Father in the name of Christ, (d) each Sunday they take the elements of the Sacrament of the Last Supper in remembrance of the body and blood of Christ, (e) they believe they are saved and can return to live with our Heavenly Father only through the merits and mercy and grace of Jesus Christand his atoning sacrifice, (f) they close every sermon, lesson, and testimony in the name of Christ, (g) they perform every ordinance in the name of Christ, (h) they teach about Christ, his life, teachings, miracles, atonement, death and resurrection, and iminent return, to their children, (i) a large number of them have paintings or prints of Christ in their homes, (j) they read the New Testament regularly and teach their children it is the word of God and literally true.

    When someone tells a Latter-day Saint, “You aren’t a Christian” and they respond that they in fact are, they are then told “Well, you are also a liar.” If you are saying this to a Mormon, you are doing it to offend. It is the moral equivalent of calling me a “Jap” (I’m a Japanese-American, born in Japan to a Japanese mother). When you intentionally inflict emotional discomfort on your neighbor, it violates the Second Great Commandment to love your neighbor, even your heretical Samaritan neighbor, as yourself. I would argue that you are in that process disqualifying yourself from being a Christian. In fact, if you threw the accusation of not being Christian to me directly, I would respond that you are not acting like a disciple of Christ at that moment.

    Now I am not saying you should restrain yourself from voicing your opinion that your own religious beliefs are correct and Mormons’ are wrong. You can certainly have that converation with other Protestant denominations and Catholics without kicking things off with the accusation that they are not “Christians”.

    I am an attorney. Back in 1978 I worked for the Air Force, and dealt with labor lawyers in the Washington DC area. Those guys would always come into a meeting and start with an insult to get us off balance and not thinking clearly. They also lost every case.

    I would hope that any sincere worshipper of Christ would be happy that other people also believe that Christ is the proper object of our worship. If you want to talk to them and persuade them that your version of doing so is superior to theirs, you will be much more effective if you don’t start out by insulting them, but rather emphasize what you have in common.

    After all, that is how the Latter-day Saints will talk to you about their own beliefs.

    One other point should be understood. Mormons believe that every person is born with an innate compass that points them toward Christ. If they live honestly and strive to do good, they will be judged on that ground rather than the particulars of their denomination, and be received into eternity in the presence of Christ. What Latter-day Saints seek is an additional level of blessing in eterity, one which they believe is made avaible to all but which no one is required to accept. Mormons believe that those who are felony level sinners who fail to repent will suffer for their own sins until the resurrection of the unjust at the end of Christ’s millenial reign on earth, at least 1000 years, at which point they will have been reformed and resurrected and assigned lesser roles in God’s work. You probably have a different idea of how the judgement works, but you should know that Mormons do NOT think you are bound for hell. They really do think that a good Baptist is going to end up in exactly the kind of heaven he expects to have. When they offer to teach you about their church, they are offering you something additional, a higher level of fellowship with Christ.

    Now maybe you don’t like the idea that God is that generous with people. Mormons believe that God’s grace is overwhelmingly more than we in any way deserve or earn. But maybe if you keep in mind that your Mormon neighbor believes you are bound for Jesus, as you are, you can find it in your heart to cut him some slack and not tell him that his worship of Jesus is fake and insincere. After all, those final judgments are ultimately in the hand of the Lord, not you. Right?

  2. Raymond, thanks for popping in. I intend to discuss more. A lot more.

    But I need to hold back for this weekend. We have a funeral at the church building, tomorrow. And then I have a new Sunday School series (the topic is prayer) that I would like to initiate on this Lord’s Day.

    In some junk mail (Crossings Book Club), today, I did notice this book on the market – unchristian.

    http://unchristian.com/

    Looks like American evangelicals are trying to work on the “image problem”. I noticed that Tri, a Vineyard Boise pastor, is among the contributors.

    Important as that is, my heart issues go much deeper than image problems when it comes to American Christianity(ies).

    Next week, I intend to look a little more closely at your post and share my thoughts.

    Have a good weekend.

  3. Raymond, it has been a marvelous weekend. Let me pause on your initial post at T&S after our morning Monday prayer time here at the church building and get back with you later today by writing a new HI4LDS post.

    Greg, oh boy, does this mean I need to spill some of my secrets? 🙂

    Blake, I was once a child of wrath. But the Agent for my regeneration defanged me. So thankful for God and the gospel. If I pull out any fangs, it will be the plastic Halloween ones in the closet. But my wife hardly lets me do that with anyone.

  4. Raymond

    Good comments. I think it was a bit heavy for Todd however. You aren’t supposed to know how to answer that well.

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