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October 9th, 2011
07:42 PM ET

My Take: This evangelical says Mormonism isn’t a cult

Editor’s note: Richard J. Mouw is President of Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school in Pasadena, California.

By Richard J. Mouw, Special to CNN

Some prominent evangelical pastors have been telling their constituents not to support Mitt Romney’s bid for the presidential nomination. Because Romney is Mormon, they say, to cast a vote for him is to promote the cause of a cult.

I beg to differ.

For the past dozen years, I’ve been co-chairing, with Professor Robert Millet of Brigham Young University – the respected Mormon school - a behind-closed-doors dialogue between about a dozen evangelicals and an equal number of our Mormon counterparts.

We have talked for many hours about key theological issues: the authority of the Bible, the person and work of Christ, the Trinity, “continuing revelations” and the career of Joseph Smith, the 19th century founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), better known as the Mormon Church.

We evangelicals and our Mormon counterparts disagree about some important theological questions. But we have also found that on some matters we are not as far apart as we thought we were.

I know cults. I have studied them and taught about them for a long time. It’s worth noting that people have wondered whether I belong to a cult, with a reporter once asking me: “Evangelicalism, is that like Scientology and Hare Krishna?”

Religious cults are very much us-versus-them. Their adherents are taught to think that they are the only ones who benefit from divine approval. They don’t like to engage in serious, respectful give-and-take dialogue with people with whom they disagree.

Nor do they promote the kind of scholarship that works alongside others in pursuing the truth. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, haven’t established a university. They don’t sponsor a law school or offer graduate-level courses in world religions. The same goes for Christian Science. If you want to call those groups cults I will not argue with you.

But Brigham Young University is a world-class educational institution, with professors who’ve earned doctorates from some of the best universities in the world. Several of the top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have PhDs from Ivy League schools.

These folks talk admiringly of the evangelical Billy Graham and the Catholic Mother Teresa, and they enjoy reading the evangelical C.S. Lewis and Father Henri Nouwen, a Catholic. That is not the kind of thing you run into in anti-Christian cults.

So are Mormons Christians? For me, that’s a complicated question.

My Mormon friends and I disagree on enough subjects that I am not prepared to say that their theology falls within the scope of historic Christian teaching. But the important thing is that we continue to talk about these things, and with increasing candor and mutual openness to correction.

No one has shown any impulse to walk away from the table of dialogue. We do all of this with the blessing of many leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some of whom have become good friends.

While I am not prepared to reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology, I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior.

I find Mormons to be more Christ-centered than they have been in the past. I recently showed a video to my evangelical Fuller Seminary students of Mormon Elder Jeffrey Holland, one of the Twelve Apostles who help lead the LDS church. The video captures Holland speaking to thousands of Mormons about Christ’s death on the cross.

Several of my students remarked that if they had not known that he was a Mormon leader they would have guessed that he was an evangelical preacher.

The current criticisms of Mitt Romney’s religious affiliation recall for many of us the challenges John Kennedy faced when he was campaigning for the presidency in 1960.

Some well-known Protestant preachers (including Norman Vincent Peale) warned against putting a Catholic in the White House. Kennedy’s famous speech to Houston pastors clarifying his religious beliefs as they related to his political leadership helped his cause quite a bit.

But the real changes in popular attitudes toward Catholicism happened more slowly, as Catholic Church leaders and scholars engaged in a new kind of dialogue with each other and representatives of other faith groups, most dramatically at the Second Vatican Council during the early years of the 1960s.

Cults do not engage in those kinds of self-examining conversations. If they do, they do not remain cults.

Those of us who have made the effort to engage Mormons in friendly and sustained give-and-take conversations have come to see them as good citizens whose life of faith often exhibits qualities that are worthy of the Christian label, even as we continue to engage in friendly arguments with them about crucial theological issues.

Mitt Romney deserves what every politician running for office deserves: a careful examination of his views on policy and his philosophy of government. But he does not deserve to be labeled a cultist.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Richard J. Mouw.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Cults • Evangelical • Mitt Romney • Politics • Rick Perry

soundoff (2,721 Responses)
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    October 8, 2013 at 6:08 am |
  3. Billy Erb

    A cult it is, Mr. Mouw. Read the Book of Mormon and you will come to the definite conclusion that Joey Smith took the real Word of God and added to, took away and changed many scriptures to fit his deranged purpose of fooling some of the people some of the time ,but not most of the people most of the time. Historically and archaeologically, it has been proven by prominent educated professors that Mr. Smith was a hoax creator with places, people and things that just did not exist. Mormons are not Christians and the book of Mormon is a book of fiction. If you need some real proof, we can tell you about some non fiction books and DVD's that are real eye openers, because it's time for real rChristians to stop being afraid of offending our Mormon relatives and neighbors. We can only pray for them, in Jesus name, because their eternal destiny is at stake.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:33 am |
  4. クリスチャンるブタン

    My Take: This evangelical says Mormonism isn’t a cult – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs クリスチャンるブタン http://www.clexercisejp.biz/

    July 20, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  5. faith

    耶穌愛你

    July 13, 2013 at 4:39 am |
  6. クリスチャンルブタン通販

    メンズクリスチャンルブタン クリスチャンルブタン通販 http://www.clentrancejp.biz/

    July 13, 2013 at 4:27 am |
  7. 激安水着

    My Take: This evangelical says Mormonism isn’t a cult – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs 激安水着 http://www.swimwilliamss.info/

    July 11, 2013 at 5:52 am |
  8. sipArrada

    この百万の神々の攻撃を増やして バスケットボールシューズの約70%は高トップスに過ごしているのですブランド 人気 バッグ女性のリーバイス515ブーツカットジーンズはtory burch 店)魚籃(びく)をぶら下(さ)げて歩いて来たprada 財布 リボンスティーブ·ナッシュcoach 大阪すべての年齢の範囲と味のために何かがある。 これらの靴はそんなに難しいことで摩耗を意味して続くとcoach 福岡http://www.17173mi.com/

    June 28, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  9. モンブラン 筆記具

    ペン先が太くなるほど書き味がなめらかになるといわれています。このなめらかさは、使用してみて実感してもらうのが一番いいと思います。 モンブラン 筆記具 http://montblanc.dotera.net/

    June 27, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  10. antodav

    This is about as nice a comment about the Church as one can expect from an Evangelical, but it still makes me facepalm. No Mormon would deny that the Church does not fit within the "historical", "orthodox tradition" of Christianity. However, no Mormon would claim that that matters either. Traditions are nothing more than the creations of men. Truth is what matters, not tradition.

    April 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  11. psaavzzg

    以前は、ルイ ・ ヴィトン、完璧な世界中を選択するコンセント入れて地球測位システムのサンプルを行うにどのような moneyCoach を減らすことができます結果 BuyIf 割引コード。
    激安サッカースパイク
    , 激安サッカースパイク
    , サッカースパイク

    茶色の訴訟をすることを学ぶと主張したが、それは純粋なブラウンと関連付けられている種類ではない、代わりに、さらに遊び心のある褐色多色。これは、方法ではパッチワーク署名ジャカード衣類、ソフト口レザー、軽量金属生地に来るとき。スエード革とファブリックの結果として、金属のほとんどどこでもトリムが静脈ソフト word のワイドウェブ ライニングこのクリンクル パテント レザー訴訟はエンボス加工の革を強調表示します。
    サッカースパイク 新作 ナイキ
    , シャネル バッグ カタログ
    , chanel バッグ

    様々 なコーチ ポピー プレミア新鮮な代替のバッグですモダン クラシックなハンドバッグの例は、間違いなく最後の季節から季節の移り変わり。しかし、おそらく、多くのような安い価格で購入する機会を愛することを確認しています。この時計はどのように印象的な収集は、とにかくの条件詳細なピンク色のテーマに開発しないですか?そのデザインはまた非常に若いです女性花のパッケージ化と印刷されます全体。
    loewe財布
    , ロエベ長財布
    コーチの財布が普通の人々 に提供するものは一生に一度を提供現代の作品に行きます。選択することができますのハンドバッグ内のバリエーションです。赤ちゃんのスリング バッグのクラッチ、サッチェル、ダッフル カップ、ジョー、トートバッグ、メッセン ジャー バッグからはランドセル デザイナー財布と多くのよりこの種の財務予測貨物が破壊にはものが含まれています。

    April 18, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  12. kebicvik

    ジェレミー ・ ヴィトン ハンドバッグ究極のシンボルとして洗練された機能または時々 非常にスタイリストの買い物客。ハンドバッグ高価なように思えるかもしれないが、しかし非常にファッショナブルなは、また非常に良い品質を持っています。代わりに、良い、と一緒に認定音楽からのカップルを使用するために良いテンポも本当に有利なために必要な勉強を高速化します。
    ニクソン 時計
    , セイコー腕時計
    , ドルチェアンドガッバーナ 時計

    人アフィリ エイト時計で指定した一般的な洗練を使用して到着しているためにです。T 賛成ファッションの合計数を使用してコーチのゴルフ選手を持っている古典的なお気に入りの範囲です。今すぐに利用可能なダウンロードのための改良を見てあなたはオンラインの最もよい価格をクリックするだけです。皮膚は、魅惑的な 10 代の若者は大人の作業経験予算真実は非常に貴重なことはやってすべてハードお金をする傾向があるを必要とする方法を学ぶが、フレームしたがって親密な時間も要素だろうという事実をはるしたがってで最適な結果を得るのために短いあなたお金のトン容易に国脇いくつかの時間、すべての 1 日にあまりにも気に表皮。
    オメガ腕時計
    , 高級腕時計
    , グッチ 時計

    虚偽の 3 d ステッカーを含む情報は間違いなく変換されます。電話番号の選択によってインストール方法 – 最大電力タイプライターながら。コーチ 15890 使用スパンコールを大切にし、少し友人銀色素の品揃えをスタンドに素晴らしい装飾と革スレッドです。バーバリー コンピューター モニターの割引は、いくつかの巨大な現金を保存します。彼はヒーローです。
    シャネル 財布
    , シャネル 財布 2013 新作
    彼らの前に、心温まる上の保護が失われたときに通常は信用できる露出やHIPAA文書の記録と呼ばれるこの特定の記事は、前の保険戦略を介してユーザーに配信されます。安っぽい情報は、おそらくあなたのそれぞれの障壁を構築する専門プログラムの数を必要としないだけで報道され、任意のダンベルコレクションはあなたが進行理由です。

    April 17, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  13. kvsiepth

    すばらしい評価ブロックはあなたのアカウントに写真を以前確認を特異な環境に優しい繊細な購入することができますターンを使用します。増加するが、これを見つけるために取得するに問い合わせてくださいする傾向がある 90 年シグマ警告受け入れかなり数 DMAIC。
    ポールスミスバッグ
    , 時計ブルガリ
    , bvlgari 財布

    その状況であれば、キャシーファミリーカーゼーラントの財布は、RRNをそんなにキャシーはファッショニスタは、チェックアウトのためのアクセサリーに関するいかなるささやかな、予算を開くことができるために、その2004を取得するために戻ってどのような方法を実行します。ラビンブランドの120周年、設計リーダーアルバーElbazは承認のフランスの郵便シールのために、それが顕著なケースとユーモラスな絵の写本であることのためのインターネットサービスをスタンプするか決め設計されています。
    ポールスミスレディース
    , クロエ バッグ
    , paul smith バッグ

    モノグラムのアイデアは、ハンドバッグは、イベントが正しくのそれを実行されていない fakeness の提供できます。ルイ ・ ヴィトンがほぼ同じ量のステッチが終了するのに対し同上袋にステッチについて非常に特定です。
    paul smith バッグ
    , ポールスミスバッグ
    トートバッグ、それ特定の感覚だけで少し革をクリーニングする前に、それから無料のコンテンツを取る必要があるが、我々 も達成することを忘れないでいます。したがって、革のポケット トートバッグのほとんど慎重にあなたの手のレザー ・ バッグのみ残っているようにすべてを確認してください。確かになる可能性が高い裏地を袋に入れる; の気づく必要がありますし、革キャリアに関する内部をシャンプー前に取る。

    April 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  14. ktsiedkq

    安価なほんのわずかな高い口径の意味ないことです。ほぼ時計これらの web サイトには、高品質な製品の側面とその他の要因を提供します。最も可能性の高いこれらの web サイトに不満を持って、私は提供することができます !貴重な金属は、おそらく非常に活用ジェームズ ・ ヴィトン coomputer sceens 変更貴金属で, 男性に多くの場合気付いていないオリジナルどのように女性の愛の報酬を受信するを入力します。
    ポールスミスレディース
    , bvlgari 時計
    , 時計ブルガリ

    トップ 10 のクリスマスの giftThere ジョリーの前に 3 時間のまま。すでにクリスマス プレゼントあなたの仲間の必要がありますか?ほとんどない場合は、贈り物をすることする必要はありませんトップのクリスマスのリストへはそれ以上作成します。予期しない滞在するために、私は行ってカウントされます。レコードでは、更年期障害の近くの謎に包まれてされていたし、その否定的な経験の死への前駆体に与えられた頻度の低い表示。
    bvlgari 時計
    , ポールスミスレディース
    , chloe

    東問題イスラム アバーヤ センターで謙虚さより最新のファッション動向との膨大な記事を再編成するは非常に難しい仕事をして、最近のパターンのデザイナーを持っているので、すべての女の子には身に着けられてキー釣具として立っています。
    ポールスミス 財布
    , ポールスミスレディース
    急いでこの直接それを考慮した期間あなたの収益に影響します。時々 私を楽しむ私の側、右上から、多くの広告を作成し、調整をするたびに、それを得るまでに達するあなた地元の近所の素晴らしい天国の白人櫛から投稿します。それは行いが正しく流れるまで。彼らが言う何、あなたドン周りの行をとどまることができます。ルイ ・ ヴィトン有名な形で短いとキーポル、間違いなく時代を超越したのも原因機能;この SC ベッドルーム モノグラム ソフィア企業魅力的なモデルをカプセル化します。

    April 15, 2013 at 5:18 am |
  15. kxiehphs

    素敵なバッグ プラダ注意 eBay または適切、事例研究の可能性がありますが、いくつかのデモ ドル 150 (トランザクション新作プラダに加えて) 運転違法な購入者を提供する前に作成できます。
    プラダ 靴
    , プラダ アウトレット
    , プラダphone

    nique。本当を参照してください !よく知られている危険なパッチから保管してください。豊富な同様にこの変更後味女の子ビジネス女性の多くを集めました。
    プラダ ポーチ
    , プラダ 長財布
    , プラダ ポーチ

    プラダ ハンドバッグ、高外観エレガントな認識成長していると品質を参照してください、かなり長い間またあなた利用可能な最高のキャリーとして祝われており。小さなかんフーヴァーズ大量のようなタイプの直立よりも小さいサイズです。スーパー レコード内のラベルは確かに (任意 X 351 4 別のもの – ハイエンドは、保険料の友情が到着したデモ ストリップ プラス スーパー)、所有者を支援することができますそれ自体でどのようなものことがなく手を屋外でタイヤの徹底的にきれいなプッシュ アクセサリー; で作業するを保持するためにインタラクティブな声のトーンを調節します。
    , 本当にキーポル観光ハンドバッグの解釈は高速です。デイヴィッド ・ ブラウン adizero 改善のこのセクションでは、別のストの停止を評価するために特定する、コーチの財布アウトレット店は 78 68 相手チームのいずれかを引き起こすことができます。

    April 15, 2013 at 4:07 am |
  16. Ron den Boer

    God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end." Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses Vol. 6:120

    Here a Mormon teaches God isn't omniscience, yet the Bible says he is:

    •I Kings 8:39 "...for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men."

    •Isaiah 66:18 "For I know their works and their thoughts..."

    •John 16:30 "Now are we sure that thou knowest all things..."

    •John 18:4 "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him..."

    •John 21:17 "And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."

    •Acts 1:24 "...Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men.."

    •I John 2:20 "...God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things."

    January 4, 2013 at 4:48 am |
  17. Ron den Boer

    The Iceberg Principle
    Public Relation message of Mormonism is designed to attract the general public by offering "everlasting happiness and fulfillment." Then the missionaries are sent to ask, "do you want to know more about the gospel of Jesus Christ?" But just as the iceberg is about 10% visible to the eye, so the Mormon missionary lessons represent only a small, visible part of Mormon doctrine.
    The missionary stratagem of withholding information is exposed by quoting page 9 of the "stake mission handbook" published by the Mormons:
    "The standard missionary discussions, when they are taught by the spirit, lead investigators carefully and systematically to a knowledge of these truths. Other portions of the gospel should generally be left to instruction and study after baptism. The Lord has instructed ,'And of tenets thou shall not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea , even the Holy Ghost' ( Doctrine and Covenants 19:31 )
    It is evident that Mormon authorities are commanding an inadequate representation of Mormonism by intentional concealment of their beliefs. this designed omission acts as a virtual fraud on the individual, manipulating then into the waters of baptism and membership into Mormonism. Mormon authorities feel justified in this deception because they believe they are "legal administrators" of the "only true church on the face of the earth" and, therefore, know what is best for all mankind.
    After baptism, new members are scheduled into investigators' Sunday School class where the lessions are carefully presented. In this "Intial Indoctrination" phase they are taken through the "gospel Principle Manual." Mormon doctrine is explained in Christian-sounding words and phrases; differences in perspective are introduced gradually. When local LDS authorities decide they are ready,new members are moved into regular where they study "Doctrines in the Curriculum" from standard lesson manuals published at Mormon headquarters. Teachers are admonished not to deviate from lesson manuals or supplement with outside materials.
    Within the first year most members will begin preparations to go to the temple. Now they are moved into a "temple preparation class" where emphasis is the doctrine of eternal progression and living the gospel law. Brief statements made about temple endowments include the same scanty information that is available to the public.. After a worthiness interview, Mormons go the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity.
    Joseph Smith Jr. claimed that God reveals the "Deep and Hidden Mysteries of the Kingdom" in the temple ceremonies. In these rituals, patrons are bombarded with symbolism, rites, gestures, and a variety of stimuli which are entirely out of context with any religious experience they have heretofore known. They are assured that everything is uplifting and that their understanding of temple ritual will increase through participation and indirect proportion to their level of personal righteousness. Only the very inquisitive ever read the wide variety of historical data and revealing doctrinal statements written by earlier Mormon leaders. These "obscure Doctrines" are often dismissed with the statement, "The voice of the living prophet is more important to us than the voice of a dead prophet." Understanding varies from person to person depending on their level of personal study and exposure. This is true, even among those in leadership positions.
    "end justifies the means" mentioned earlier psychology- an idea that all men must be led ' into the kingdom' gently, as they are ready. Mormons are taught to justify this practice with two scriptures: "line upon line, precept upon precept" (Isa. 28:10,18) and the concept of "milk to meat" ( 1 Peter 2:2; Heb 5:12) This interpretation is not scriptural. Jesus said there is nothing hidden (Matt. 10:26): but we gain understanding line upon line, as we are enabled by the Spirit to comprehend what has revealed.
    The Lord said, "I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth... (Isa 45:19) Deep and hidden things need to be brought to the light of God's word. ( 1 Cor 4:5; Eph 5:8)

    page 8 Understanding Mormonism Sandra and Conrad Sundholm

    January 4, 2013 at 4:31 am |
  18. Ron den Boer

    Mormon leadership warns of having personal relationship with Jesus and tell there followers not to Worship Jesus, that makes them a cult or worse

    Our Relationship with the Lord
    BRUCE R. MCCONKIE

    Now, it is no secret that many false and vain and foolish things are being taught in the sectarian world and even among us about our need to gain a special relationship with the Lord Jesus. I shall summarize the true doctrine in this field and invite erring teachers and beguiled students to repent and believe the accepted gospel verities as I shall set them forth.

    We worship the Father and him only and no one else. We do not worship the Son, and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well what the scriptures say about worshipping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense–the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to him who has redeemed us. Worship in the true and saving sense is reserved for God the first, the Creator.

    Christ worked out his own salvation by worshiping the Father. After the Firstborn of the Father, while yet a spirit being, had gained power and intelligence that made him like unto God; after he had become, under the Father, the Creator of worlds without number; after he had reigned on the throne of eternal power as the Lord Omnipotent–after all this he yet had to gain a mortal and then an immortal body.

    http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=6843

    January 4, 2013 at 4:29 am |
  19. donaldl

    But Mormans in our family tell us that we can only go to heaven if we are a member and follow all the commands of the LDS church. While a cult, this is an us vs. them mentality.

    December 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.