Beliefnet.com, the leading online community focused on issues of spirituality and inspiration, is hosting a heated exchange about whether Mormons can truly be called Christians. In a blogalogue at www.FaithOff.com, two of America’s most noted and respected religious voices are sounding off on this question and exploring how it could potentially affect the presidential election. Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., evangelical theologian and president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, believes that Mormons cannot be called Christians according to traditional Christian orthodoxy. Orson Scott Card, an award-winning sci-fi author and committed member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, begs to differ. Card says that’s like calling Mormons heretics – as early Catholics branded Protestants.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Says: Mormons Aren’t Christians!
“Are Mormons ‘Christians’ as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy? The answer … is easy and straightforward, and it is ‘no.’
Mormonism rejects traditional Christian orthodoxy at the onset – this rejection is the very logic of Mormonism’s existence.
Contemporary Mormonism presents the Book of Mormon as ‘another testament of Jesus Christ,’ but the Jesus of the Book of Mormon is not the only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, or the one through whose death on the cross we can be saved from our sins.
Mormonism is not Christianity in a new form or another branch of the Christian tradition.
The central argument of Mormonism – that the true faith was restored through Joseph Smith in the nineteenth century in America and that the entire structure of Christian orthodoxy as affirmed by the post-apostolic church is corrupt and false.”
Orson Scott Card Says: Mormons are the only Christians with Authority of Christ
“Each time a group of Christians comes up with an unfamiliar way of understanding the scriptures and our relationship with God; there are other Christians who are quick to insist that anyone who believes like that can’t really be Christian.
But what if we don’t let Mr. Mohler define the question in such a way as to specifically exclude Mormons before the debate begins.
What if we define ‘Christians’ as the way most people would: ‘Believers in the divinity of Christ and in the necessity of the grace of Christ in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God.’
The ordinary meaning of the word … definitely includes Mormons; and when you say Mormons are not Christians, most would take that to mean that Mormons ‘do not believe in the divinity of Christ,’ which would be flat wrong.
But let’s remember now why we are having this discussion. It’s because Mitt Romney is running for President of the United States, and Mitt Romney is a Mormon.
Mitt Romney is not running for Pope of America … his religious beliefs are not irrelevant. Far from it. Americans should care very much about religious beliefs that will affect how a President would fulfill the duties of his office.”
Mr. Card advocates that Mormonism be considered “nottraditional Christianity” and Albert Mohler strongly disagrees.
Mohler made this observation: Indeed, the subtitle printed on The Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” A “testament,” that is, other than that accepted by the historic Christian churches.
Mohler continued: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” as Mormonism is officially known, claims to be the only true church. As stated in the Doctrine and Covenants [1:30], Mormonism is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” According to Mormon teaching, the church was corrupted after the death of the apostles and became the “Church of the Devil.” Mormonism then claims that the true church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the 1820s. This restored church was, Mormon theology claims, given the keys to the kingdom and the authority of the only true priesthood.
Why would Mormonism now want to be identified as a form of Christianity, when its central historical claim is that the churches commonly understood to be Christian are part of the Church of the Devil?
There is simply no way around the Mormon claim that the other churches hold to a corrupted theology and have no true priesthood – and are not true churches. Mr. Card may complain that traditional Christianity defines the faith in a way that rejects Mormonism. Fair enough. But Mormonism rejects historic Christianity as it makes it own central claim – to be the only true church, restored on earth in the latter days.
Mr. Card’s statements on baptism make this point clear enough, as does this statement from his essay: “In other words, at the level of religious practice we believe that we are the only Christians who act and speak with the authority of Christ today.” I sincerely appreciate Mr. Card’s straightforward statement of this fact.
This debate took place before the 2008 Presidential election but can see the relevance to our upcoming election.