June 27th, 2011
02:41 PM ET

Faces of Faith: Explaining Mormonism

In Sunday's Faces of Faith segment on CNN, Anchor T.J. Holmes interviews Anthea Butler, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, on various aspects of Mormonism.

Faces of Faith airs most Sundays during the 8 a.m. hour.

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Mormonism

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Member

    Concerning the Mormons/Christians debate-

    We can bicker and bicker all day long. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints isn't going to say, "Oh, okay! I guess you're right! We aren't christians after all!" We have firm beliefs and standards that will not change.
    All those who claim we aren't Christians are never going to say, "Wow, I guess you are Christians after all!"
    We are only going to keep arguing. Why don't we just settle on the fact that the only one that can end this matter is Jesus Christ Himself? He is the only one that can decide if we're Christians or not.

    I, personally, don't see why we wouldn't be Christians. The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints, I would say, believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and the redeemer. I have a personal testimony that Jesus Christ lives, and that Thomas S. Monson is His prophet, leading the true church. I know this to be true, even if you don't, and no one can convince me otherwise.

    July 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  2. Marie Kidman


    July 1, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  3. derp

    It is beyond hilarious listening to "christians" call mormons crazy. Both of you two clown groups believe in a story that is just as loony as the other guys. Don't you idiots realize that you are on the same team?

    June 29, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  4. Jessica

    Have you ever noticed the venomous tenor of the anti-mormon voice? Conversely, the defenders of Mormonism are civil and respectful in their discourse. By their fruits ye shall know them.

    June 29, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • gozer

      Jessica is several bananas and a few apples short of a full fruit basket.

      Jessica, so have you seen those golden tablets that Moron-i revealed? And how are your magical Depends retaining things for you? Getting a big soggy above and below, are you?

      June 29, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  5. kingnpriest

    Galatians 1:8 "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
    Obviously the mormon gospel is different from Pauls, as this scripture was written 1800+ years prior to mormonism. Anyone preaching mormonism is accursed. 'nuff said. JOHN 14:6 BELIEVE ON THE TRUE JESUS CHRIST!

    June 29, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • True Friend

      Amen again.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • gozer

      and don't forget to burn those sacr-ificial animals to your idol regularly like the bible says you must. Leviticus.

      June 29, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  6. Jimbo

    God told us through his word that He was done talking directly to man. Instead, He now talks to us through the Holy Spirit. Any man that says God talks to him and that he is a profit of God, is a liar. Not trying to be mean, just stating what is true. If the Mormans say they believe in Jesus and the Bible, then they should try reading the Bible and take it for what it says. Don't take bits and pieces out of it or try to twist it to mean what you need it to mean to excuse your actions.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • True Friend


      June 29, 2011 at 3:17 am |
    • gozer

      So, Jimbo, does that include the animal sacri-fice tidbits, or are you picking and choosing other bits yourself?

      June 29, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • derp

      I guess jimmy does not eat pork, work on sundays, or wear blended fabric.

      June 29, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Jimbo

      @gozer...... The need of having the blood of an animal to cover for your sins was done away with by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. His blood covers all sin for all men, women, boys, and girls, as long as they accept Him. So I am not leaving animal sac-rifices out of anything. God said they were no longer needed.
      @derp...... God also said animals were no longer considered unclean and that we could eat what we needed to from the animal kingdom. He did tell the Jews of the OT what animals were unclean and not to eat them, but when Jesus came on the scene and opened Heavens doors to the Gentile, those rules for Gods chosen people (the Jews) did not apply to the Gentile. I do not work on Sunday unless I have absolutely no choice. Being in the Marines, I can't really argue too much when I am called to work. But when I am off work, I am in every service that the doors to my church are open. No questions asked. As far as wearing mixed textiles, another rule for the Jews that did not apply to the Gentiles. Try reading your Bible people.

      June 29, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  7. Been There

    The professor didn't mention it, but Mormons also believe that their prophets speak for God. My question: If so, then how could three of the prophets teach as scripture that African Americans would never receive the Mormon priesthood in this life, and then in 1978 they reversed the doctrine? Did the original three prophets make a mistake? (They were pretty firm about this at the time.)

    June 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • CalledOfGod

      The simple answer is that they are not true prophets of God. Deut. 18:21-22 says if any prophecy of a "prophet" fails that person is not of God. God takes this very seriously and there are too many failed prophecies of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to begin telling you about. Secondly, Hebrews 1:1 says that God spoke in times past through the prophet but now speaks to people through Jesus Christ; He is our High Priest and Prophet and desires a personal relationship with you. No one can have a personal relationship with there Savior if they believe they need "modern-day revelation" through a "modern-day prophet." I know; I use to be Mormon.

      June 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • calling you out

      Wrong. They NEVER taught that african-americans would never have the priesthood, only that they wouldn't for a time. In the early days of the church blacks DID have the priesthood. The church stopped giving priesthood to african-americans for a time and then it was given back.

      June 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  8. tara

    As a practicing Mormon, I was surprised at how much this professor did get right about our faith (although there is so much more that could have been talked about). Often our beliefs are misinterpreted or misrepresented in a way that literally contradicts all that we believe.

    When the CNN reporter asked about the comparison of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith I was a little disappointed that there wasn't time to actually answer the question. Jesus Christ is absolutely central to Mormon doctrine and salvation. It is only through Him that all that we believe–repentance, forgiveness, eternal life, eternal families–is possible. Though we believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, we believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Redeemer and without Him, not only would we not be able to repent and change and return to God, but on a very literal sense, we would have no doctrine, no religion, no gospel, no prophets. We truly believe that Christ is the head of our church and speaks through His prophets as well as to us on a very personal and intimate level.

    I am a Christian with all my heart. I don’t mind being called Mormon, a Latter-day Saint, but truly, I am a Christian because I believe in Christ and I do everything I can to follow His teachings in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon, both of which teach me of the power and reality of His Atonement.

    June 28, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • cara

      Thank you for this comment. it is so wonderful to have intelligent, well-spoken people representing our religion.

      June 28, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • carolyn

      Joseph Smith/ Brigham Young were crook's and a murderer's, and child molester's- it puzzles me how Mormans can so easily justify their faith in Jesus and adhere to a religion founded ordinanry men who did so many awfull things.

      June 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Thank You

      THIS is what "Mormonism" is all about, it's about our sincere love for Jesus Christ. What tara wrote is the MAIN focus of our faith and the FIRST thing we want to express to people who aren't familiar with our beliefs.

      June 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  9. JEN


    June 28, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • REally

      Now that's RUDE and VERY untrue.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:00 am |
  10. Mike


    June 28, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  11. Tory

    Until recently Mormon's didn't refer to themselves as Christians. This change has taken place as their rise on political circles has grown. Mormon's consider the church to be the only true church. This belief is instilled deeply at the primary levels and reinforced throughout their lives. Sunday sacraments are filled with pronouncements from each speaker they believe its the only true church. Much unlike Christian churchs. Another stark difference is the belief that there are modern day prophets. These prophets "only" being Mormons.
    The differences in the Mormon and Christian beliefs are MUCH greater than was presented here.
    I'm in my mid 50's and have been a member of the Mormon church since I converted at 16.
    I won't say anything negative against my church. I do however feel the differences should be as quickly spoken of as the similiarities rather than seeing them swept under the rug. It's our differences which make the Mormon faith so very special.

    June 28, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • tara

      Mormons have always considered themselves Christians. I am not sure about the accuracy in your statement that Mormons have never called themselves Christians until recently.

      June 28, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • AJ

      Another lie to justify the endless anti-Mormon rhetoric. If someone wants to know what a Mormon believes, ask one. It's a simple concept.
      Of course, if one wants to make something up or lie, the truth is not a factor.

      June 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • carolyn

      "Special/extra Biblical – Churches are simply place's to worship God and fellowship- any church which touts itself as the one true church is apostate. That is the probelm with any religion which claims itselsf above other people/sinners – you can't serve two master's.

      June 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  12. Zelda

    Mormons seem to be far, far better than average American citizens, but that's not good enough for salvation.

    June 28, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  13. Ghân-buri-Ghân

    I can explain Mormonism in one word: bullsht.

    June 28, 2011 at 3:31 am |
    • Love Those Magic Undies!

      I can explain Mormons in three words: no bullsht detector

      June 28, 2011 at 3:55 am |
    • Ghân-buri-Ghân


      June 28, 2011 at 6:29 am |
  14. Zelda

    Secular university professors are not good in explaing religion anyway. They should stick to their own religion – secularism. The most respected scholars(if any) inside the religion usually can describe the core of the matter the best. Mormons use the same religious vocabs but they mean entirely different things from the Biblical Christianity. If Mormon scholars insist they are Christian, Christian scholars(respected ones, mind you) should be called in and both must be heard by all.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  15. Michael

    CNN, I know you may not read this, but may I kindly request interviewing a Latter-day Saint about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? This lady got many things correct, but some of her facts were not 100% accurate. Interviewing a Mormon would provide the most correct version of our faith. Thank you.

    June 27, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  16. JL1999

    Professor Butler was mostly correct in so far as she went. However Mormonism is not something that can be described in the time alloted by CNN. For example, the Book of Mormon does not replace the bible, it is an adjunct to it. Revelation says no one should add to this book. The book, when it was written, was just the Book of Revelation. The bible did not exist. http://www.lds.org can explain and answer other questions.

    June 27, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • carolyn

      There is no such thing as any book being "adjunct" to the Bible. We know from his own accounts that Joseph Smith claims to have received devine "revelation" from the angel Moroni to find some golden plates that revealed this tall tale of Egyptians, Indians and lost tribes. Not only does this crap not jibe with fundamental American history it does not jibe with Bible history. Read the Book of Morman and that other crap Smith, Birgham Young and other Morman scholar's have written. If you have a problem with the Bible being the inspired word of God- you can't miss the inconsistancies and out right plagarisms in the BOM.

      June 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  17. Reality

    Just another con game:

    To wit:

    Joe Smith had his Moroni.

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.
    Some added references to "tink-erbells".

    "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Apparently hallu-cinations did not stop with Joe Smith.


    "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."

    Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

    "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

    And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

    "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."
    "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

    "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

    June 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  18. JohnQuest

    It is just a plausible (or un-plausible) as any other religious beliefs.

    June 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Allow me to expand.

      You are correct, mormonism is just as plausable as any other religious belief because they each hold the same level of evidence. That is to say, zero.

      What I'd like to add is that if two concepts are mutually exclusive and both contain the same level of evidence supporting them, then that standard has to be discarded.

      If it is true that Islam has as much evidence for it as Christianity, and both cannot be true at the same time, then they both must be discarded as ideas without merit.

      June 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @The Bobinator,
      I'm afraid I have to disagree. Take for example a shell game with only 2 cups, or 2 card Monte, before the reveal. You have the same amount of information on both states, i.e. you don't know where the pea or queen is, but it can't be in both places, i.e. mutually exclusive. So does that mean that the pea or queen is in neither position? No, it just means you don't have all the information. Equal amounts of information does not mutually exclude both options.
      On the other hand, if both options have no evidence then there is no reason to think that either is true, without more evidence, i.e. if you lift both cups and find no pea, then the dealer may have palmed the pea or queen.

      June 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • John Richardson

      You are correct, Nonimus. Islam and Christianity cannot both be true. They CAN both be false. But the fact that they CAN both be false doesn't mean that they MUST both be false.

      June 27, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • Reality

      Why Christianity is false and therefore useless:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      o p.4
      o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      o p.168. by Ted Peters:
      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      o So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      June 27, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Reality

      Why Islam is false and useless:

      . Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite global blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      June 27, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
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