Apr 5, 2007

A Mormon President?

Driving to work this morning I listened to a radio talk show in which the hosts and their callers were discussing the hoopla over Mitt Romney running for President of the U.S. The hoopla, of course, concerns the fact that Romney is a Mormon. Most conservative Christians understand that Mormonism is a pseudo-Christian cult. They believe things that are antithetical to essential Christian doctrines. For example, Mormons believe that God was once a man on another planet who lived a good Mormon life and then graduated to become a god himself and form and populate his own planet with his own spirit children. And they believe that we, the spirit children of this "god", can likewise achieve godhood by our being good Mormons and then move on to rule over and populate our own planets.

Pretty wild, eh? And because Romney, as a Mormon, probably believes these anti-Christian doctrines, many Christians are saying that they could never vote for him for President. One caller to the radio program adamantly insisted that he could not vote for a man who advocates what he, as a Christian, considers sin. And Romney's heretical beliefs are sinful. Ergo, he cannot vote for Romney. This attitude I believe to be fairly common among conservative Christians. But, this attitude toward Romney is totally and completely wrong-headed. What's more, it is patently unbiblical. And I say this as someone who agrees that Mormonism is a cult and that Romney's beliefs are sinful.

A few centuries ago, the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther said, "I would rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a stupid Christian." His point was that being a Christian did not automatically make one a good ruler. And, on the flipside, being a Muslim (or follower of some other false religion) did not automatically make one a bad ruler. Good rulership falls under the rubric of God's common grace and natural revelation and it falls on the Christian and the non-Christian alike. Luther believed that unbelievers can and do establish just governments and that being a Christian was not a requirement for being a good government leader. Unbelievers can have the wisdom and knowledge required to rule a nation.

Where did Luther get this idea from? He got it from the Bible! The Bible gives us many examples of political leaders who were not followers of the one, true God; who were idol worshippers no less than Mitt Romney, and portrays many of this rulers as just and wise. It portrays their rule and authority as legitimate in the eyes of God and worthy of Christian submission and respect. Examples include Nebuchadnezzar who was served faithfully by Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Mishach, and Abednego; Darius of Persia who Daniel also served; and then there was Cyrus of Persia whom God called, "My annointed one" (Messiah). Think also of Ahaseurus whom Esther married and submitted to along with her uncle Mordecai. And there is Ben-Hadad of Aram who was served by Naaman, the soldier converted to the true faith by Elisha. In the New Testament, think of Felix and Festus who were given respect and obedience by Paul--they were not perfect morally or religiously, but their rule was seen as legtimate and to be submitted to. Consider as well how the apostle Paul commanded all Christians everywhere to submit to the governing authorities whoever they were--because they are ordained by God (Rom 13). Paul said this when Nero was on the throne of Rome.

I point all of this out to argue that there can be no theological reason to refuse to vote for Mitt Romney. Unless one has been deceived into believing the view called theonomy (and its half-baked sister, the Religious Right) which holds that Christians have an obligation to work for the establishment of specifically Christian governments, then there can be no objection per se to electing a Mormon. The only issue that matters is: what does he stand for? What are his values and principles? What policies will he implement? Will he establish and maintain justice? The Bible does not teach that we have to have Christian governments; it only teaches that we should have just governments. And a government can be just whether or not the President and other leaders are Christian.


jsweeney said...

I'm surprised you would take other Christians to task for their reluctance to vote for Mitt Romney. Mormonism is inherantly deceitful. Mormon's are notorious for their prevariction in defence of their faith and Romney, as a missionary and leader within his church, is a deceiver and is altogether guilty of attempting to promote deceptive doctrines of demons.

You might argue that all politicians lie. Well as a Christian, I am compelled to differentiate between politicians who lie to get votes or cover up their personal shortcomings and those who lie about the nature and person of Jesus Christ and lead others away from a saving knowlege of Him. Were Romney to be elected President, we would have a Biblical obligation to respect his position and submit to his authority, but the Bible does not encourage us to endorse deceitful men whether through our words or through our votes. When you look at the big picture, there are plenty of Biblical reasons for a Christian to not vote for Mitt Romney.

Anonymous said...

Could Mitt Romney be more "Christian" than Evangelicals? Protestants and Catholics subscribe to the Nicene creed, which was initiated by the Emperor Constantine in the Fourth Century to rid Scriptures of the Apocrypha, which made reference to the oral traditions of Jewish and early Christian temple worship.

First Century Christian churches, in fact, continued the Jewish temple worship traditions:
1) Baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family
2) Lay clergy
3) Anointing with holy oil after baptism
4) Then clothing in white clothing

Just check with the Israeli Museum to verify. And read Exodus Ch 29 for Aaron and his sons” ordinances. Jewish Temple practices were continued by Christians prior to Constantine”s corruption (see St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) Lecture XXI). Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and not allowing non-Christians to witness them

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ being separate beings, united in purpose. To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and to whom was he speaking 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.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) have concern for their ancestors” spiritual welfare, so they practice proxy baptism. (1 Corinthians 15:29 & Malachi 4:5-6).

Only members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue these practices of First Century Christians. But Mormons don”t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. 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 the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament.

It”s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be the more authentic Christian. If Mitt Romney is a member of a denomination which embraces early Christian theology, he is likely more “Christian” than his detractors.

* * *
Furthermore, a UCLA study found that observant members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) in their 50s and 60s had one-twentieth the divorce rate, abuse rate, or substance abuse of a demographically similar group in Southern California.

And the National Study of Youth and Religion done by UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005 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):
LDS Evangelical
Attend Religious Services weekly 71% 55%
Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life –
extremely important 52 28
Believes in life after death 76 62
Believes in psychics or fortune-tellers 0 5
Has taught religious education classes 42 28
Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline 68 22
Sabbath Observance 67 40
Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith 72 56
Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily 50 19
Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen
(very supportive) 65 26
Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping
Teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality 84 35

MichaelGlawson said...

It seems questionable that Constantine's motives in "initiating the nicene creed" were to extinguish usage of the apocrypha, especially since the apocrypha was included with all holy scripture well into the printing of the King James Bible (about thirteen hundred years after Nicea) and it's pretty unobvious how the nicene creed would even address the question of canonicity. I don't read much in my apocrypha that conflicts with the creed.

Secondly, the practiced traditions listed in anonymous' post don't seem to contribute to the discussion either way; there are Evangelical churches that hold similar practices.

The statement and question "A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ being separate beings, united in purpose. To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and to whom was he speaking on the Mount of Transfiguration?" Betrays a misunderstanding of Christian theology that is characteristic of mormons. Christian theology doesn't deny that the father and the son are separate people, but it also confirms that they share a common essence (or possibly substance). So (contrary to what I often hear from mormon missionaries) no informed Christian believes that the father and the son are the same person. Jesus wasn't praying to himself. He was praying to his father, with whom he shares his essence.

Anonymous also said:

"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.""

Almost noone today holds to the embellished form of 1 John 5:7, and that reading didn't appear until Erasmus' Greek (not latin) new testament in 1516, which was compiled because Erasmus felt the existing latin versions were insufficient (and which didn't contain the doubtful passage). So it doesn't seem that it was inserted by scribes translating the bible into latin since it's first appearance was in a greek edition compiled from greek manuscripts (as I understand it). One would be left to wonder, even if anonymous were correct about all this, why the scribes would feel compelled to do this since the doctorine of the trinity had been around for over a thousand years before this passage cropped up.

Anonymous says:
"Only members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue these practices of First Century Christians. But Mormons don”t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. 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 the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament."

Well, since citing webster isn't going to solve all of this because webster only gives you common usage of a word, not a specific doctorinal position, we might be left to discuss doctorine at some point (I mean Jim Jones claimed to be a follower of Christ, and I can show you video's of Hitler opening meetings with Christian prayer, so I think even anonymous will find webster's definition insufficient when pressed).

The issue is not baptism for the dead, annointing with oil, white robes and the like. The issue between orthodox christianity and mormonism is deeply doctorinal. Mormons hold beliefs that strongly contradict orthodox christian beliefs. Orthodox christianity holds that there is only one God (who exists in three persons), that God is eternal, has always been fully actualized in His divinity, that Jesus Christ is a personage of this God who was embodied, died for the sins of humanity, and rose again to his rightful position where he rules alongside the father over absolutely everything, and that faith in him alone is necessary and sufficient for salvation. Moreover, orthodox christianity is logically opposed to Joseph Smith's prophethood (partly because his prophecies have failed), the law of eternal progression (exaltation to godhood for faithful mormons), and the inspiration of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price since they both propose unorthodox teaching such as polytheism (which the Book of Mormon specifically contradicts, see Alma 11:21-31).

To concurr with anonymous though, there is no doubt that Mormonism holds to high moral principles that are also common to christianity, and that mormons can be very nice, sincere people. Mormonism places a strong emphasis on family unity, dounces drug use, and is often successful in producing people who embody these standards. But that's not what anyone is contesting. The issue here is purely doctorinal, and must be addressed as such.

MichaelGlawson said...

To address the post though, I'll have to side with Cowan for the most part. If the distinction is made between civil and religious roles, and the presidency is understood as a civil role, some concerns might disappear. When I think of who to vote for, I do look at the religious stance of a candidate, but only because that will largely determine the candidate's moral convictions, which will influence his legislative actions, and since mormons don't seem to differ ethically in any serious way from orthodox christians, I don't see the problem. If anything it might bring religious debate into the public square, which would be good for everyone.

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with your views Dr. Cowan. These Mormons and their so-called "faith" in a false god are ruining the family values of our great country. I would rather have our country run by a mosque of Allah-fearing Muslims than having an "LDS" president. Real Christians should have squashed the Mormons in the late 1800's, when their kind was starting to ruin our nation. A Christian stand like that could have shown the world the power of a Christian nation, and it would have prevented future issues within our country.

We would have been able to put an end to alcoholism by banning it's vile liquids. We could have stopped "Big Tobacco". We could have stopped those at the borders to our south from even CONSIDERING a crossing to our fine country and we could have kept away the minorities CAUSING THE MAJORITY OF CRIME!

Dr. Steve Cowan said...

I appreciate Michael Glawson's remarks in response to some of the other comments. Let me add, first, in response to jsweeney, that I agree that the LDS churchand its leaders are and have been deceitful, and that they teach "the doctrines of demons." But, it does not follow that Romney is himself deceitful if he teaches those doctrines. Maybe he is--I don't know. My guess is that he sincerely believes Mormon doctrines and is sincere (like most of the Mormon missionaries I've met) in trying to communicate those doctrines to others. In which case, of course, he is himself deceived.

On the other hand, if he truly engages in deceitful tactics in his Mormon witness or his politics, then that would be a character issue that all American citizens ought to take seriously and it would certainly keep me from voting for him. But, I do not agree that Romney must be a deceiver and a liar simply in virtue of being a Mormon. I have met Mormons whom I have every reason to believer were honest upstanding people. So, do you have specific evidence of Romney engaging in deceitful, dishonest practices?

Moreover, the fact that he believes and teaches "doctrines of demons" (i.e., false religious beliefs) does not disqualify him from getting a Christian's vote. This is the main point of my original post. Nebuchadnezzar believed the doctrines of demons. So did Darius, Ahasuerus and Cyrus--yet they were portrayed in Scripture as rulers worthy of honor. Daniel even said to Nebuchadnezzar and Darius on various occasions, "O king, live forever!" This is more than simply submitting to rulers that one wouldn't have otherwise chosen for oneself. Their rule was legitimate and God-honoring even if their worship was not. This all goes to show, once again, that the Bible does not teach that a government has to be Christian in order to be just and pleasing to God, nor do rulers have to be Christian to be just and pleasing to God as rulers.

In response to the second "anonymous" post, I am not really sure in what since you agree with me, because I certainly do not agree with you that having a Mormon president would necessarily be the societal disaster that you think if would be. I would be more skeptical of a Muslim, wondering if he had theocratic intensions, than of a Mormon like Romney who I am pretty sure has no sympathy for setting up a theocracy.

I am curious. In what sense should Christians in the 19th century have "squashed" the Mormons? Do you mean "squashing" in the sense of showing them through sound reason and strong biblical preaching the superiority of Christianity? Or are you talking about using political and military force to stamp Mormonism out? I fear you mean the latter. I hope I am wrong for that is not a Christian way of dealing with false religions (2 Cor. 10:3-5), and it is inconsistent with religious liberty.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not one decides to vote for a particular candidate may involved multiple issues, of which faith certainly ought to be considered. Given that we have had presidents who have attended church and make reference to prayer, and yet their lives and politics do not appear to be consistent with a biblical worldview, one's overt statement of faith may or may not be relevant. What character is seen? What values are expressed and utilized in decision-making? Those are the important questions IMHO.

jsweeney said...

We can agree to give Romney the benefit of the doubt with respect to whether or not he himself is deceived, but the doctrines of Mormonism in many cases are demonstrably false and I find it unfortunate that a man in Romney’s position can not or will not apply critical thinking and good judgment to the question of faith vs. evidence. It has been said that a Christian who can believe Genesis 1:1 should have little trouble believing the rest of the Bible and much of our beliefs are a matter of faith in things that cannot be proved or disproved; however a small amount of scientific investigation reveals Joseph Smith’s claims to be fiction. If we cannot ask our elected officials to refrain from proliferating unbiblical teachings and distracting people from the true gospel of Jesus Christ, can we at least ask them to display an attention to hard evidence when weighing the merits of a proposition and not be taken in by easily disproved lies?

With respect, I don’t find your argument about non-Christian biblical leaders very convincing. I’m not arguing that a Romney presidency would be illegitimate or unworthy before God. Daniel was a prophet who recognized the hand of God at work in the pagan governments of his time. I am a Christian citizen of a democracy, and while a Mormon in the white house would be worthy of my honor and respect, he would not a priori be worthy of my vote.

I wonder if the real issue is that we are so afraid of left-leaning candidates that we are willing to wink at unbiblical doctrines and those who affirm them so that we can feel safe in our political comfort zones. Should we not pray instead that the Lord's will would be done on Earth with respect to the election, vote our consciences, and then rest in the knowledge of His sovereignty?

Anonymous said...

From talking about a Mormon President to defending each others personal belief. Just because i don't go to your church, is it right for me to judge? Mormons do not believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are one. So much confusion in your lives. Where are you folks hearing the things you want to hear and twisting the things you don't? I think we all know there is a higher power of life. As for Jesus Christ, since he is God's son would he not be a God as well? but then we say he is our brother? Is it possible that Jesus had only one purpose in life and any more than that is just nothing? and he said " gee wiz Dad, is this all i get to do ?" People you need to think for yourselves and not let the drill team control you. Jesus said he loves us, why? does he know you or I? We are told he does. How does he know us?
Do you think Jesus has any power? How much? Is it possible he can control the very elements as God does? Probably, like Father like Son. Guess it wouldn't be too far fetched to say he could have created the Earth under the supervision of his Father the Master Builder. Say I was just wondering, do you think its possible for God to speak to a man from a mans body? After all he can control all the elements. Just goes to show you most people don't know squat, but listen to what others tell them and want to be in the in crowd. Personally I try my best to love others even if we might disagree. There are many that disagree or else there would be only one church. Mormons try to help others even if the others are from a different church. I'm not seeing much of that from the other religions. The only thing I hear is a bunch of bickering amongst the lot of you saying even though the Mormons are a people who strive to do what is right according to Jesus and the Ten Commandments but have seen a vision and have a book (which nobody can sit down and write one similar even today)this one was translated from plates of metal, that they are sinners. There can be no other book that talks about God and Jesus Christ, there are no more scrolls;Of course there are. Did you know the Mormon Joseph Smith added 130 proper nouns to the English language? William Shakespeare only added 30. There is a lot more stunning events. Why do people twist the God thing is beyond me. I would like to walk and talk like Jesus and follow in his footsteps, and if he is a God, I would very much like to be as a God. Are we not taught to walk in his footsteps? Oh by the way I do go to church, I do the best that I can to love thy neighbor and I think Mitt Romney does the same. Finally a President who cares about you and Me. It's unfortunate that things get twisted to make things appear as a sin. I didn't know you were the judge. If we new your background what would it say?

Anonymous said...

Its funny all this talk about hatred, and it was the so called Christians that killed men,women and Children in cold blood in the 1800's. Just slaughtered them. Thats right you killed the Mormons. Then you asked them to fight for you and your country in the longest march in history. They left their families behind to fight for you. how would you feel if you had to leave your home and belongings in a moments notice because someone is going to slaughter your family because you believe different? Doesn't say much for you friend and your validity, are you prejudice as well? q