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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 • Mitt Romney • Politics • Rick Perry

soundoff (2,721 Responses)
  1. Sally

    It is my belief that there is one God, the creator. Every religion, whether it be Christian, Morman, Islam, whatever, has their own name for him and their own stories to explain it all. The bible is the Christian version, made up two thousand years ago to explain our existance. The koran is the Islamic version. We all beleive in the same God. He doesn't grant wishes or give grace to any one group over another. We are all products of this one God. Live a good and just life, treat others as you would like to be treated and follow your conscience. If there is a heaven, you will be welcomed, if not then you have lived a good life you can be proud of.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Agreed

      October 10, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Greenspam

      Incorrect. The first Commandment says "You shall have no other Gods in my Presence". So, how can there be other gods in other religions like Budhism, Mormomism, Islam, etc? You need to study your bible harder.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Sally

      Greenspam – If you read my post, you will see that I do not say there are other Gods. I say there is one God, and we all believe in the same one. We just have been taught different beliefs depending our background. I don't believe that the bible is the word of God. Why would I study it to find answers? It is a book written by men to try to explain how we came to be and teach us how to live in harmony with each other. Sadly, it has done more to divide us.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • nympha

      You are deceived.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • LaLa

      "I came to the conclusion long ago… that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu … But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian."
      Mahatma Gandhi

      October 10, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • o.k.

      Sally,

      You have a position that is taken by many who believe in a god. Let me ask you this: if there is a god, do you believe that he would be a fair, just and loving god? Do you believe that if he is those things, he would want us to know and understand him? I for one, do believe those things. Therefore, I believe that God is careful enough to share with us a little about him so we can understand what exactly it is he expects from us and how we are to treat each other. I believe, therefore, that He would care enough to give us that information directly. I for one choose to accept the validity of the Bible for that reason (among many others). The obvious argument in response is why the Bible, and not, for instance, the Koran? Faith is part of my response, so is chronology (i.e., if the Koran, why did he wait so long to get his "truth" out?). Your understanding of a god is that he is distant (and it can seem that way at times), neutral and a little unconcerned. I don't think that a god (my God) would expect our allegiance if he were those things. What do you think?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • SPA Knight

      Jesus said: I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. It's not just about living a good life of realitivism. You must accept Jesus as the Divine Savior of the human race. Humble yourself, own up to your sins, seek forgiveness and accept Christ as the sacrificial lamb.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Wench Sal

      Sally, name-sister, wow you're there. There's only one god indeed, His Noodliness, The Big Cheese himself, The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Although he does come in quite a few flavors.

      Our god is a bit different than your Christian one though. Ours is nice and tasty, and you don't need to kill any goats for him necessarily. You can have all the wine you want with ours too, not just a sip, and you can eat the whole plate, not just a little wafer.

      And unlike your guy, we've got evidence for our god; you can taste ours. Piracy is on the rise. Harrr.

      Come on to http://venganza.org to sample the Goodness and Truth of His Noodliness. Pasta be upon you and your face.

      RAmen.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  2. alex

    said the pot to the kettle...

    October 10, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  3. TheBossSaid

    Anyone who is truly lead by the Holy Spirit will instantly recognize that not only is Mormonism a cult, but this evangelist isn't a true disciple of Christ either.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Brian

      It seems you must either have a 3rd grade education and smoke drugs to create your own religion and or be very old and say the UFO's are comming or tel everyone you can reduce the bible into numerical bits to find out when the messiah returns.

      I predict further that this temple once it is complete that the fake messiah(SATAN) will be a mormon. He will control all and put number tracking sytem on us all and even the elite so called educated will either lie or go in hiding. Further more to say Only the Bible is the truth which automatically makes the book of mormon pure lies. Jesus and Eden is in the Middle east.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Robert

      You're right, cults are typically 14 million strong. Look at the icon on lds.org. You'll notice it is a statute of Jesus Christ. Go and watch the recent General Conference held by the LDS Church. After you get done watching this, please tell me if you still hold the belief that it is a cult. I can assure you, that you will see how much the Mormon Church focuses on the teachings of Jesus Christ.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      TheBossSaid there are No True Scotsmen.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman

      October 10, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • wcovenant

      Good point...... I would like to known why the book of Mormon is being taught equal to the teachings of the new covenant. Would their book be considered adding to the word of God which is not within the teachings of Jesus?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Melissa

      For those sincerely interested in understanding Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith in the Book of Mormon check out this small testimony of its importance. The entire address is powerful but this clip has been made available by the Church as well, on its Mormon Channel on YouTube. I encourage all to seek the entire address but here is its shortened version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkKblIMfmjI

      October 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • What If

      TheBossSaid
      "Anyone who is truly lead by the Holy Spirit..."

      That's what they ALL say...

      Me, me, me - I got the Holy Spirit in me! Nonsense to the core.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  4. LP

    I had always thought that the definition of a cult was a religious group in which the leader becomes more important than the deity the group is supposedly worshiping.

    "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."

    While the author obviously has a mind that is at least partially open, the statement he makes above applies to a large percentatge of fundamentalist, evangelical Xians.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  5. Jeff

    To a Christian who believes in the historical Jesus and His church, the Mormon church is by definition a cult. It is in no manner offensive to say that to a true believer of Mormonism, for he/she understands the essentials of their belief system and how they differ. Mainstream Christianity shares in the beliefs about the essentials of our faith – who God is, the three persons within the godhead and their roles, what we are called to, and how one must be saved and live their life. None of this takes away the earthly redeemable qualities of Mormonism such as their commitment to taking care of each other, purity in worship, the role of the church in all matters, etc. But it is not the historical Christianity we know. And btw, many large and small denominations that purport to be part of mainstream Christianity have also distorted the historical belief system of the church.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Dave

      Actually Jeff, it *is* pretty offensive. 🙂 How would you feel if I started telling everyone that your particular sect or congregation was a cult because your beliefs differed from mine? It sure feels like the cult label is being used as thin veil over good old-fashioned bigotry by many people.

      My own personal belief is that Christ's church did not continue to exist, as he established it, for very long once the Apostles were killed off. "Historical Christianity" as you call it has many troubling examples: doctrinal issues settled by voting in man-made committees (the various creeds), the rise of the papacy, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and so on. Is that the legacy you claim? I don't. If that makes me a cult member then... well, I guess that's not so bad after all. 😉

      October 10, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Melissa

      I would disagree with you. Any member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) or you would say Mormon would be mightily offended by the term cult. Cult is not defined as a religious organization which differs from historical Christian teaching. If so then all world religions except those termed as Christian would be considered a cult, including Islam, Buddhism, etc. Labeling a religion a cult leads people to fear it. Cults are often secretive and surround one leader. Look to the author's excellent description of the characteristics of a cult. Labeling members of this church as cultist offends member's beliefs. It implies that Christ is not Lord to them. It implies that they are good people but have been mislead, and it implies that these members do not know truth. Though the Church is important to LDS members, it is because it leads members to Christ. The Church functions as a tool for the learning and growing of its members. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worship Christ and his divinity, not its leaders. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints follow Christ's teachings as well as the teachings of prophets of old found in both the Old Testament and New Testament. However, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in modern revelation as well. If God blessed his people with prophets in olden times and if he is unchanging, would God not bless us as well with prophets? Are we unloved by him or damned by him? Even after Christ had sacrificed himself, Peter was placed to lead the Saints. We have the scriptures to bless our lives, but wouldn't the placing of prophets by God today help us so much more as they live in our time? This religious belief is one in which people cite when claiming the Church as a cult. However does it not follow many patterns found within the scriptures in Christ's church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not follow mainstream Christian teachings in many ways but no one seems to focus on how it does follow it. The Church places Christ and his teachings at the center. Does that not count for anything? For many it doesn't. It only gets them labeled as a cult.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Jeff

      "In Essentials, Unity. In Non-essentials, Liberty." Augustine (354-430 AD)

      Know your beliefs and stick with them, most especially the essentials. Otherwise, you are practicing Universalism or Synchrotism. For a true Mormon to say their beliefs are the same as the rest of the Christian church is sacrilegious to Mormonism. For those like me are saying The Book of Mormon is not of God and that the church was founded by a false profit on false doctrine.

      If you think you can offend me, think again. I would not be the least bit offended by you not agreeing. That would be in complete contrast to having a full conviction about what I follow. You should have that same conviction for what you purport to be true and want it for everyone else, as I do what I believe it true Christianity.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Melissa

      I think all religions have troubled pasts. Because religions though focused on perfect beings are practiced by imperfect beings. I believe Christianity and Mormonism to be valid and respected religions. And that is the issue here. Allow each of us our beliefs and learn from each other. Lets not accuse because that is what leads us to troubled times.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Jeff

      Melissa, you said "Allow each of us our beliefs and learn from each other. "

      Do that mean you would apply that same principle to include systems of belief that include cannibalism? Or is it just the ones you believe are harmless and make you feel good?

      I would rather fear the God of my fathers than fear offending you merely by stating my conviction. For my belief is offensive on its own. Who outside of Christianity is not offended by John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."?

      Do your homework and know your facts about what your church or religious organization believes. If you are a Mormon your church believes I read from an errant version of the Bible, among many other things we differ on. Either embrace that conviction and hold it up or walk away from it. But don't try to pretend those differences aren't there. I respect your right to believe in them. I'm just not going to acquiesce to the concept that "we're all the same".

      October 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  6. bdub

    Morman's are more Christian like than Christians.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Sean

      Amen to that.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  7. RobertC

    "Cult" is one of the most abused words in the English language. A true cult is centered about a single personal leader or leadership group, who entice people to abandon their own judgment to the leader, separate them from family and friends and surrender their independence by turning over all their money and possessions and often even their children to the leader. They are forbidden to question the leadership and join in punishing members who do. Cult affiliation is a serious and well known psychological phenomenon. Unfortunately, many intolerant fundamentalist groups identify any religion other than their own as a cult simply to insult them. "My religion is true, yours is a cult." Mormonism, Catholicism, Christian Science and the Jehovah's Witnesses all have their unique characteristics which others may find peculiar, but none of them is a "cult." Shame on the Republican Party for buying into this nonsense. Most Mormons identify as Republicans. Does the party really want to alienate one of their strongest bases?

    October 10, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  8. Don B

    Perhaps the so-called christians need to completely read their Bibles. Then will they realize the mistake they are making to gaurantee their salvation in eternity. The Bilble states in Mathew that there is only ONE who may judge; GOD. Anyone else who does so will suffer the consequences. Picking and chosing what the Bilble teaches will not get one into Heaven

    October 10, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • SCAtheist

      As long as there has been a Christian religion they have been pickers and choosers. Conveniently the Bible contadicts itself all over the place, so it's easy to do.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  9. Rob

    Evangenitals are out of control!

    October 10, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  10. Jerry

    Great article.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  11. Coco Ramos

    The last time I checked, Jesus did no establish any theology, university of law school. Mind you, He was not even a Christian. I cannot understand the mentality of "my religion is the only and true religion" This is not what Jesus taught. If you stick with the four Gospels and even within the Gospels, with the Sermon on the Mount, you will get to the core of Jesus teachings.

    Most "Christian" theologies today are based on Paul's or St. Augustine teachings. NOT ON WHAT Jesus taught. Jesus message was about love, forgiveness, healing and compassion. If there was one thing that Jesus criticized, it was the scholarly folks of the time who emphasized the letter of the law instead of the Spirit.

    I invite anyone to take a close and HONEST look at both, the Nicean Creed or the Apostles' Creed and tell me how many of the things in them were ACTUALLY TAUGHT BY JESUS. Instead, you will find that they are interpretations of Jesus' message taught by human to accommodate their own beliefs and agendas.

    The Dalai Lama said once that there will be peace in the world the day that we ha peace among the religions of the world.

    Let's set aside differences and let's focus on what unites. Perhaps that would be a good start. As long as we are hung up on who is a cult and who is not, we are heading in the wrong direction.

    And, by the way, when Christianity started, the people of the time thought that it was a cult.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Sally

      Great comment! Thank you!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Eric

      Jesus DID in fact teach that the road to life is small and cramped, while the road leading to destruction is wide and spacious. Jesus taught that there is only one lord and only one faith. Jesus rejected the religious of his day as the works of the devil, I mean what better way for the fallen angel to decieve gulible humans than by throwing out hundreds of false religions. There is only one truth to the way things are and came to be, history is perfect, history only has one truth.... same goes for the future and the bible. Seek truth and it may yet be found. A religion mentioned in this article in indeed that truth, the workers of the devil are putty in his hands, seek thruth before you judge the true religion.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Robbie

      Thank you for summarizing in a few words how orthodox Christianity has strayed from the actual teachings of Jesus Christ in the first five centuries after His crucifixion.

      Many present-day Christian fundamentalists define "truth" as a pre-ordained set of beliefs, and as something totally rooted in faith. Most non-fundamentalists define truth as a result of verifiable facts, and not based on faith alone.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  12. Jim P.

    Mormonism isn't any more or less of a cult than other religions. All are faith based, not proof based.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  13. Laverne

    No one was willing to be open minded or understanding when this country was trying to make Barack Obama out to be a Muslim even when he said he was a Christian. Just more of America's double standard and Romney will not have to go through even half of what President Obama went through!

    October 10, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • mikey

      Obama may have claimed to be a Christian, but he actually insults the bible and accepts the quran. The video is on youtube...so you can see for yourself

      October 10, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  14. Maggie

    I love the bible. Such a simple book but it seems that the majority of people can not understand it.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Rob

      The bible is a fairy tale book!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Binky42

      You love the Bible, probably because you've been told from birth to love the Bible. It's called indoctrination.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Jerry

      The majority can not understand the Bible, unless the Holy Spirit opens their ears, and their eyes. I believe the Holy Spirit tries to do this at every opportunity, but people go their own way. The scriptures support this. I agree with you, the Bible is God breathed, good for instruction, discipline and correction. It is without error.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • hitobito

      Its OK to love the Bible. However it is an interpretation of events written by a group of men. It could be a well conceived fairy tale which as little or no basis in fact. It is a useful guide for living peacefully among people. The Ten Commandments generally foster good will and acceptable standards of behavior among groups of people. In order for Christianity or any religion for that matter to work, one must have faith. Without faith, religion and belief in a supreme being is a fantasy and simply cannot be empirically proven.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Magic

      There are some pearls of wisdom in the Bible, as there are in most other scriptures. The 'laws' in it were not new - not killing, stealing and treating others kindly was propounded long before Moses (or Abraham) came into the picture.

      The problem is that people see these pearls and therefore accept the entirety of the myth, legend, fantasy and superst.ition of those primitive Middle Eastern desert people as the one and only truth.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  15. Chlasha

    Yes, I believe religion is a cult. However, I also believe that a person can lead this country no matter what religion they belong to. That goes for ALL religions and someone who is Agnostic or even Atheist. Last time I checked, there was something called the separation of church and state. If our leader can't distinguish between the two, then they have no business being our leader...PERIOD!

    October 10, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  16. Binky42

    Cults typically require you to follow dogma, much of which makes no practical sense (dietary restrictions, work-day restrictions, etc.), gather regularly for exclusive meetings that include ritualistic devices, and make a life oath to the cult. In other words, all religions are cults.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  17. Mark

    RESPONSE TO MAGGIE

    What I stated is the teaching of any seminary school worth its weight. As I mentioned, a neo-Platonic background would be helpful to this discussion; You obviously don't have one. The teaching of the Church is that Jesus never sinned. So it's Protestant and Catholic orthodoxy vs. Maggie.

    You also mention: the Catholic New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) here reads: "Listen, Israel: Yahweh our God is the one, the only Yahweh."* In the grammar of that verse, the word "one" has no plural modifiers to suggest that it means anything but one individual.

    Well God is also called "Elohim," this is the common name for God and it is plural, probably a remnant of early polytheism amidst the Abrahamic tribes, but it is plural, so this negates your point.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  18. Yergnov

    I don't trust the Mormon church and therefore CANNOT ever vote for Romney. He will be a puppet for those who will be behind the scenes, whose intentions I don't know or trust. Not to say that Obama or Bush don't have the same thing, but this is different. Also, Mormons are NOT Christians and should not be regarded as such. One only need research some of the activities and beliefs of those in the Temple to know better. On the surface, the lingo seems similar enough, but digging down to the heart, they worship a false god. The Apostle Paul said that anyone bringing a different gospel than the one he was preaching was to be damned- the Mormons fall into that category.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Robert

      Those who say the Mormon Church controls the political beliefs of its members have not done 5 minutes of research on the issue. If the Mormon Church controls Romney's beliefs, then how does it also control Harry Reid's beliefs (Senate Majority Leader and a Democrat). The Mormon Church does not ask its members to adhere to either political party, but rather to use their own agency to choose the party they believe best carries out the beliefs they hold. Thus, Romney and Reid can both reach differing political views while still adhering to their Mormon faith.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Jayson

      who says mormons don't follow what paul taught? unless you mean that its because they follow what jesus taught...

      October 10, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Why

      Why do you believe Paul of Tarsus - an egocentric, misogynistic, misanthropic zealot and PR innovator, who hijacked a first century religious cult?

      October 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  19. Nada Broderick

    My definition of Christianity. A follower of Jesus Christ. I Believe in Christ. My life is focused on His teachings... I immediately think of the big commandments... love God, love others. being a good samaritan, not burying talents- sharing them, letting my light shine, doing unto others as I would have them do to me, praying to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ... asking for forgiveness, loving my neighbor (everyone), forgiving others, being baptized in recognition that I am a follower of Jesus Christ... putting on the armor of God... shield of faith, sword of truth, helmet of salvation, feet shod with preparation, caring for others, not casting the first stone, keeping Sabbath Day holy-taking care of ox's in the mire, not committing adultery- not even in my heart, not lying, not stealing, not killing, not coveting, putting God first in my life... asking "what lack I yet". I'm a member of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints. NOT PERFECT... repenting.. I confess I have had speeding tickets too. But I know that it is with His stripes that I am healed (Isaiah: 53). Thank you for affirming to others that The Church of Jesus Christ is not a cult. You are correct. Everyone, please also know... I belong to the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints and I am a Christian.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Binky42

      Do you also not eat shellfish, sell your daughters into slavery, and stone to death men with long hair? It's all right there in your book.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Yergnov

      Nada, if you read the New Testament, and leave out the BOM from your thinking, WHERE in the NT do you find Mormonism? You don't. Period. It is an add-on and is false. God does NOT have a wife, there is no Mother god. God is NOT a creation, we ARE NOT gods, nor will we ever be. You cannot baptize or take the place of someone who is dead- this is all MADE UP by an "Angel of Light". I challenge you to read the entire NT alone. Read John and see who Christ claims to be- take out your understanding of the BOM and see if you still reach the same conclusion. Don't fool yourself, eternity is too steep a price to pay.
      If you are a true 'Christian' then listen to the words of Christ and His claims of himself. Understand your place as a human who, if you place your trust in Him, will know Him as the only God one day. Your works here on earth are as filthy rags, you cannot 'DO' anything in and of yourself. Please, read for yourself, you WILL be surprised.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • matthew

      Quote from the BBC about Mormonism. Too ridiculous to take this serious.
      "Mormons believe that the resurrected Jesus ministered to the Nephites in America. He appeared before a congregation in their temple, and allowed them to feel the wounds in his hands and feet.
      He stayed with them for several days, teaching and healing.
      He called and ordained twelve disciples, and gave the people various commandments and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
      Jesus Christ also appeared to Joseph Smith in New York State in 1820 in what is known as the First Vision. He appeared to Joseph Smith on several other occasions.
      Jesus Christ has appeared to other Church leaders, for example in 1898 and in 1918."

      October 10, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Rob

      @Nada Broderick

      All that was nice "fluff" ... now Nada, tell the reading public herein if you would, as a Mormon; "Who is JESUS?" Is He merely a man, or is He GOD?" We who are true Christians ALL know that JESUS is also called "The WORD of God." So now, is Jesus, the One called the CHRIST, the One mentioned in the Gospel of John (John 1:1-5), the Creator of all things it says; is that same JESUS (the WORD), GOD? or is He merely the "spiritual brother" of Lucifer (Satan) ... the answer to these questions herein will prove you as either a "true" Christian, or merely a "so-called" Christian; you can't be both.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • SPA Knight

      Nada,
      Does that mean believe in 3 gods (Godhead) as opposed to One God in 3 persons? Just because a person decides to join a community of believers and calls themselves a Christian does not make them so. I can calll myself anything but the truth is in doctrine. That doesn't mean that Mormons are not good people trying to live a moral life because I know many of them do. I also know a friend that is Jehovah Witnesses and he considers himself a Christian as well. He is a very moral person too but that doesn't make him a Christian. We must be honest about the debate.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • nympha

      To the above, you are so right! And, sadly, most Mormons I know and spend time with do not even know their Book of Mormon and how much is contradicts the Bible. I feel sad that they are so deceived. Satan, in the Bible, is referred to as the angel of light. He can look pretty beautiful. Joseph Smith fell for him.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • John Proctor

      nympha, Have you watched or read "The Crucible"? You sound familiar ;(

      October 10, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Nada Broderick

      Dear Blinky42, Yergnov, Matthew, Rob, SPA Knight, and nymphy: With my full name listed, I wrote from my heart and soul to add my knowledgeable voice to this discussion about whether I belong to a cult or am a Christian. When I studied about cultural diversity in college, I was taught that when engaging in good ethnographic research, if attempting to understand what a group believes one should ask a member of the group, look at the literature of the group, examine the web-site... you go to the group, not those who hate the group. I know who I am and what I believe. You have not only attacked my faith, but I see that you attack others on this blog as well. I was hoping for a reasoned discussion. I hope you know as well as I do that all religious belief is held by faith. With you, I believe that the angel said, "fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." I hope that you do not pretend that a person who wrote what I just wrote is not a follower of Jesus Christ. I know that there will come a time when all truth will be revealed. So, be careful what you write back, because I know that God cares and you will be accountable to Him for the words you say to me. I have processed your rude comments and have asked God to please take the burden of your mean comments from me. For others reading this blog, I refer you to mormon.org . If you really want to understand what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes, ask those who know, not those who hate.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Victor Broderick

      Are you able to see the presumption in telling someone else what they do and do not believe in? Can you see the presumption in suggesting that if only a person would read the Bible carefully, they would adopt your interpretation of it, and, since they have not adopted your interpretation, they must not have read it carefully? And, when folks disagree about the nature of God, and have the option of describing that situation as people differing in their beliefs about the same God, or, in contrast, as people believing in different gods, can you see the petty contentiousness of choosing the latter perspective? Because the Islamic faith views Deity differently than you do, are you justified in calling them atheists? Or would they perhaps have equal claim to call you atheists? Surely you can disagree about doctrines and defend your faith without belittling those of different faiths. Are you comfortable with the passage in the New Testament reporting when the local religious establishment persecuted the upstart religion that added to the extant scripture and interpreted the old scripture in very untraditional ways, and they persecuted their followers, but a wise man, not of the new belief said "Take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men... Refrain from these men and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." (Acts, 5:35, 38-39). Is this one of the Biblical verses you take seriously?

      October 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  20. Open minded

    Richard Mouw, that was clarified eloquently and much appreciated.

    All too often it is ones first inclination to judge and pass off anothers religion as a cult only because one is fearful. But knowledge is the light to understanding. I am a christian married to a muslim, I enjoy learning about different religions and I realize there is more in common than not. If one has a strong faith in their own, than they are not threatened by another. Thanks and keep writing!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Rob

      Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary says:

      (quote) “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 (end quote).

      And blogger “Open minded” too, in agreeing with many of Richard J. Mouw’s words, brings forth an interesting position that pretty much epitomizes the opinions of many of today’s post-modern wave of new evangelical studies, students, and pastors that have swept into the majority of all the “mainstream religions” of this once great nation since the turn of the last century; their motto could easily read, “If it is close enough, then surely it must be good enough.” Mr. Richard Mouw, the current president of Fuller Theological Seminary since 1993, is certainly not one that should be looked to for an interview on any Cults; or, especially if you truly want to know and understand correct evangelicalism at its base roots. He is a liberal philosopher type; one that would more closely adhere to all of the liberal left groups that took over and redid the studies and beliefs of most (so-called Christian) seminaries since the late 1950’s, and on through the late 1970’s. They came in speaking of a “new wave” evangelical position; the position of the supposed intellectual “open mind”… where if you were not careful, that “openness” could easily be misconstrued by all of the Richard Mouw-types as “empty headed” an thus, they would take it upon themselves, to go ahead and “fill it” with “new” ideas; ideas that are neither Biblical, Godly, nor Scripturally correct. God says of Himself, “I am the same yesterday, today, and forever, I change not”… so it would also stand to reason, that God’s Truths and Scriptures also would “change not;” but, the liberal left seminaries, with teachers like the Richard Mouw-types, tend to think that God didn’t mean what He said; nor said what He meant. So today, many of our once conservative God-fearing seminaries, have all gone post-modern on us, and have become so “all inclusive and politically correct” in their teachings and philosophies, that everything and anything is accepted, and/or tolerated as Truth; as fundamental; or even as evangelical … when nothing could be further from the real Truth.

      A good example of this trend can be found in all of the previous Peter Jennings TV Specials that he and the liberal network he represented, would “always and purposely” come out with, in the week (just before) the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection. Jennings would never put them out in mid-summer, when TV was in reruns; why? Because he and his ilk wanted to drop onto the viewing public, those blatant Biblical inaccuracies, at a time when people were thinking of the Holy season at hand; it was purposefully done to mislead people; because it surely wasn’t done to educate anyone on Biblical Truth; because if that had been the case, or their goal, Jennings would have used “real” Biblical Scholars that know the “real” truth; and even used correct Biblical Scripture verses; instead, Jennings would always use the truly loony, far left radical, and “extremely Biblically erred” Jesus Seminar group for all of his TV interviews and insights into his version of “The Real Jesus; the One called the Christ.” Sadly, today, Peter Jennings (now) knows the “Real Truth” about God and Jesus, though it is of no value to him any longer; and he also knows that the Jesus Seminar group should have never been the center for his fact finding missions on either Jesus or the Bible; and neither should the Richard Mouw-types of this world be as well.

      I personally have been a born-again, God-fearing, correct Bible teaching, ancient history, political history, dark-side Cults, researcher-writer-type, for nearly 30 years now; and for people to address “any group” as a true Christian group, when they clearly are not; especially in regards to truly God-inspired and God-given Doctrine (that can easily be verified these days, if one only takes the time to study the ancient scripture scrolls and writings), is flat wrong. When it comes to the complete and inerrant God-given to humanity Truth, there aren’t many Truths, or other Truths; many Ways, or other Ways to the One True God; there in only One Way, and One True God; whether humanity accepts or rejects that, is their free choice; but still, they will all eventually answer to the One True God after death. But, when it comes to religion, which was neither God-mandated, nor God sanctioned for humanity (not even Judaism); because God gave them 10 Commandments-the Laws, and the needed Ordinances; but, by the time Jesus (who is God the Son; not the “spiritual brother” of Lucifer) came around, the Jewish Sanhedrin had all but put aside many of the Commandments; followed only chosen Laws and Ordinances; but, then in clear “religious” fashion, they made up upwards of 600 new, man-made (other) laws, rules, and regulations, that God had neither ordained nor asked for; and that is the very “same thing” that has managed to creep into mainstream Christian circles since the 1900’s; and is also the very reason that God claimed, that people would “easily recognize” that the “End Times” were upon humanity, when many (so-called Christian and non-Christian groups alike) would finally come to a point in human history, when they would call “evil” good, and “good” evil (Isaiah).

      Should Mitt Romney be kept out of office because he is a Mormon? not at all; especially if people are going to claim that they are not going to do so, based on a moral and/or Christian stance. We as a collective nation have strayed “too far” from God’s Truth to place any condemnations on any one person based on “religion;” for the same token, if one is going to say that all groups that call themselves Christians, are Christians; then, that is a totally different case and study.

      Christianity requires “no religion” to accept Jesus as LORD and Savior; or to understand God’s Biblical Truth. God said (paraphrased); “Draw closer to Me; I’ll send My Holy Spirit to Save you, live inside of you, and to teach you” … and that my friends, is something many religions refuse to wrap their minds around.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      @ Rob:

      So nice that yopu take it upon yourself to be an expert on behalf of everyone else. You are one man, and abviously arrogant one, since you feel free to judge others on their relationships between them and God. A little humility would go a long way, not to mention keeping things brief. Maybe that's something you should attempt to wrap your mind around, but, I sense you won't since you are obviously full of yourself and the words you spout. Good luck getting anyone to listen.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Rob

      This reponse should follow after the lengthier Rob posting below:

      @ The Real Tom Paine said:

      Rob:

      So nice that yopu take it upon yourself to be an expert on behalf of everyone else. You are one man, and abviously arrogant one, since you feel free to judge others on their relationships between them and God. A little humility would go a long way, not to mention keeping things brief. Maybe that's something you should attempt to wrap your mind around, but, I sense you won't since you are obviously full of yourself and the words you spout. Good luck getting anyone to listen.

      Rob’s response to Tom Paine:

      Real nice … I love the thinned skinned and the uniformed … because they can never converse in a mature way. “Tom Paine” … it sounds like you are either a Mormon, a Jesus Seminar disciple, a Peter Jennings fan, or just angry and uniformed. In either case, I believe my name attached revealed that I actually spoke for only me; and, in some round-about away, also for those that are indeed true Christians; and not merely religionists. Any true Christian would easily accept what I said about true Christianity; those that are not have the same problems as you. A weak-willed religionist will always toss out the old “judge others” card … and also the “you are so arrogant” card … in hopes that your lack of Biblical knowledge is somehow strengthened by your “you are judging me” theatrics … get a grip man; are you really so “thinned-skinned” that rather than use an intelligent and productive “counter argument” to strengthen your stance and/or belief, whether Christian or not, you would rather turn into a school ground cry baby? For heaven’s sake man, humility and Truth “can go” hand in hand, but humility in lieu of Truth, is pure “post-modern-eze.” As for “keeping it brief” and “Good luck getting anyone to listen (or read) … your hypocrisy indeed knows no bounds … you both read and listened (read) … wrap yourself around that!

      PS: As per “you feel free to judge others on their relationships between them and God.” I did? Really? I thought I said, “God” said “that” … see, God doesn’t accept “relationships” based on “your way, or your beliefs” … He accepts them based on “His Way” … so in your anger and religion-ism … you couldn’t see the forest for the Truth!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • wcovenant

      The Jews and Muslims have common ground in their heritage (Genesis chap 16), Father Abraham. He fathered two sons, one by his wife’s hand maiden Hagar, his name is Ishmael (by Sarah’s choice, at the time her womb was barren and she thought she was getting to old for child barring) and another son by his wife Sarah, his name is Isaac. When you search and study in the Old Testament, It was the child of Abraham and Sarah’s to begin the nation of Israel. That’s what God promised to them. What happened became a fractured covenant, (this is what I call man trying to fulfill the promises of God by getting involved with an opened mind) we have two sons and one prophecy to be fulfilled. See the issue; something that started thousands of years ago effects us in modern time. I have a link that will address this better and in less time. http://www.therefinersfire.org/ishmael_and_isaac.htm

      October 10, 2011 at 12:59 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.