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. Kegler

    How grateful I am for reasonable people who go to the source for their information. That Pastor had no right to accuse Mormons as being part of a cult. That is not Christian. That is not Christ-like.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Chad


      October 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • hmhemingway

      I agree. Reverend Jeffress was definitely in the wrong and is just showing his ignorance about Mormonism. Thank for taking the time to set the record straight, Mr. Mouw!

      October 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  2. Dave

    To Mr. Richard J. Mouw,

    A thoughtful writing with many great points addressed. As you no doubt see from the comments, many others not addressed, though I realize that addressing all points was not your intent nor is it possible. From my personal observation, one would find it difficult to write in defense of LDS/Mormon beliefs without expectation of passionate responses from both sides.

    I believe, like many who have commented, that the word cult has taken on a derogatory connotation in our current society, and defending one faith against the word, like the Mormons, but not another, like the Christian Scientists, was inevitably going to cause someone to dislike what you wrote.

    From Merriam Webster:
    Definition of CULT
    1: formal religious veneration : worship
    2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
    3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
    4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
    5a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
    b : the object of such devotion
    c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

    Definitions 1, 2, 5a, and 5b allow for even large "mainstream" religious groups, like Baptists and Catholics, to be classified as such. Probably 3 and 5c are what many think of when they think of a cult. Latter-Day Saints report a membership of 14 million today, which can hardly be classified as a "small group", so by this definition one could easily believe your argument that Mormons are not part of a cult. But again by this definition, Christian Scientist sand Jehovah's Witnesses are also not small and not cultists.

    At the onset of your article, however, is a notion that ruling out a political candidate based on his professed religious beliefs is an objectionable practice. To this I wholeheartedly agree. One of our nation’s founding principles is the ability to practice ones religious beliefs freely. We find it appalling to learn that this is still not the case in some countries today. I would caution readers to think twice why their religious leader would tell them which individual to vote for or against. Individuals should think for themselves and choose of their own accord. If my Pastor told me not to vote for Mitt Romney because he was a member of a religion with false beliefs, I would then wonder who I COULD vote for, because maybe none of the candidates are members of my particular religious sect, and therefore, a member of a religion with false beliefs. Don’t tell me who to vote for or against. Instead tell me to vote for the individual who I believe will be best for this country based on their position on moral, economic, social, and even political issues facing us today. Clarify my religions official position on specific moral and social issues, and let me listen to the candidates and decide which ones will do what I think is right.

    I do find it intriguing that John Huntsman is also a Mormon. Two men, already of political prominence, interested enough in the condition of our government and country and desiring to attempt to make changes, have an affiliation to the Mormon Church. Whether you believe in doctrine of their religion of choice, the moral and ethical character, their desire to keep this country prosperous and, dare I say, righteous, their commitment to their causes, says at least a small something about the caliber of people who are members of the Mormon Church. The people I know and associate with who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are good, moral, upstanding, genuinely caring people.

    I am not yet sure if I will vote for Mitt Romney or John Huntsman. There are several candidates who also have the ability to lead this country in good directions. I say if you are a religious person, take your decision on who to vote for to your God. If you are not religious, then use your “God given” {wink, wink} brain to decide based on issues and candidate positions on those issues. Either way, don’t base your vote on the candidate’s religious affiliation. If you think giving a Mormon the presidency is going to mean that the LDS church suddenly has power over our country, you don’t know how the country and government work and you give way more power to the President than he actually has. He or she may ultimately let their religious beliefs guide the decisions they make, but it wasn’t as if we all became Catholics and the country did only what the Catholic Church wanted every time a Catholic was elected president.

    Nice job Mr. Mouw, for defending a man’s right to worship how he desires, and recognizing that Mormons are not so scary or weird as many seem to think.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      All that being said, LDS and all religions remain cults!!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  3. AtheistSteve

    @Enough Said
    "God said it is his Word "
    Wow...you've got some big ones if you think your argument holds any more water than the Mormon idiocy does. "God" never said or wrote anything in the Bible...men did...and you're an illiterate fool if you believe otherwise. The only thing "God" ever supposedly wrote was the 10 commandments on 2 stone tablets and even that was just a story told about Moses(not by Moses) which makes it a 3rd hand account at best. The Bible is NOT scientifically valid about anything, is full of historical errors and is self-contradictory throughout.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      AtheistSteve,,,,,, ,,,,,, ,,,

      Mat 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,(a senseless, empty headed man) shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Wrong again! Even your father "Darwin" changed his mind on his death bed. Check it out! "God" never said or wrote anything in the Bible...men did...and you're an illiterate fool if you believe otherwise." You are stating God wrote the 10 commandments and that is in the Bible, well it is also in the Bible that all scripture is "God breathed." Check it out! He will open your eyes if you dare to read it or are you afraid of the truth of YOUR CREATOR!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Steve – like poking the godslave behive isn't it?

      October 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Lucifer's Evil Twin
      @Steve – like poking the godslave behive isn't it? I wish you knew how at peace I am. Wish you had such peace. Just speaking truth to the lost.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I'm not lost. I have a GPS.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Special

      Enough Said, "well it is also in the Bible that all scripture is "God breathed.""

      A book proclaiming *itself* to be "God breathed" - well, isn't that special!

      October 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      lol...I said "supposedly"...meaning I don't for one second believe he wrote the commandments. And what do I care of Darwin's death bed confessions...he was wrong about many things. Evolution science is much further advanced than even he could have imagined, but that doesn't detract from basic validity of his discovery. Your feeble attacks on science and reason do nothing to disguise the absolute absurdity that is represented in the Bible. Watching people like you bend into pretzels trying to make any of your claims sound reasonable is what brings people like me here. It's like watching a train wreck(of logic) in slow motion.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Enough Said, "well it is also in the Bible that all scripture is "God breathed.""
      A book proclaiming *itself* to be "God breathed" – well, isn't that special!

      I couldn't agree MORE!

      October 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Special

      Enough Said,

      Well then, you must believe The Book of Mormon and The Koran and a few other scriptures which claim the *same* thing.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Enough Said,
      Well then, you must believe The Book of Mormon and The Koran and a few other scriptures which claim the *same* thing.

      Nope, just the Bible, the Only Truth! Sorry.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Enough: The problem with people like you is that no matter how much evidence and proof was set before your eyes you will never see it...you are blinded by a book written by 40 men over the course of 400 years and was put out to the public 2000 years ago. You fail to see that science has provided enough evidence to contradict the book (Adam and Eve were not the first human's on earth...evolution has proven this fact). Oh well, people like you pollute our earth with your delusions.

      It's a matter of 'Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you're weak of mind' (speaking to the christian populous here).

      You make yourself sound arrogant, egotistical, self-righteous and over all delusional. Carl Sagan stated that 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'...I'm guessing his words would scare you but they make more sense than your malicious god ever having apparently said anything.

      It is time to grow up and stop believing in bronze age stories.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Enough Said

      @Enough: Science is proving creationism everyday. Science has traced all men to one father and all women to one mother just recently. Look what liberal mankind has done to humanity in the last few years. Yeah, your kind is all in the know that is why the world is falling apart, cause we think we know more than God and we don't need him. It's time you stop believing you control anything. You breath because he breathed life into you. Someday you will see and you will remember this blog.

      October 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @EnoughSaid: Wow, you are one of the most ignorant people alive. You are making claims here that are complete fallacies and when you are making those, you are not providing your proof. I am not an idiot. Nor are any other Atheists on here. We have done our research and we know what we speak of and when we are not sure we state so. Your claim that science is proving creationism correct is beyond stupid and ludicrous. Every day scientists are discovering more and more about evolution. I don't expect someone like you to believe that, you have been brainwashed for far too many years to believe otherwise. You pity us in a weird a$$ way but it is you who deserves the pity. We don't care what you say is true because we are too busy living in the here and now to fall for the line. You can suck it up...NO MATTER WHAT YOU ATTEMPT TO DO TO TRY TO CONVINCE ME OF YOUR GOD, IT IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. WHY THE F*&^ DO YOU CARE ANYWAYS?? YOU HAVE NO MORE PROOF FOR YOUR GOD THAN I DO, I JUST OPT FOR THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO AS IT SEE IT...YOU ARE THE ONE ACCEPTING GOD WITHOUT VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE.



      October 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Enough Said,
      "Science has traced all men to one father and all women to one mother just recently."

      No, it hasn't. You do not understand the "Mitochondrial Eve" and "Y-chromosomal Adam" (dang, I wish they hadn't called them those names, further confusing creationists).

      You can read about it here:

      October 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  4. Richard S Kaiser

    Atheists are but spiritual misfits alive with the revelries of wanton spiritual deniability. As true spiritualists are Spirit bound, do you ever wonder as to just how spiritual misfits such as the common atheist gain a spirited footing in their denying of self-spiritualisms?

    October 10, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Richard: Have you ever taken the time to sit down and speak to an Atheist? Outside of disagreeing with you about god and religion, we really are no different and it is sad that you use this separation as a reason for judging us.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  5. JPFlorida

    I am a member of the Church of Christ. After closely looking at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, i have found it to be closer to what I believe than any other religion. The purpose of the being able to go into the temple is not to exclude people but to give them a reason for living a more pure life. Many people, without proper motivation, wouldn't choose to live a pure life. No one has a right or the power to judge what others believe. In the end, on the day of Judgement, it is God who will decide who lived right and who did not. The Latter Day Saints are Christ centered. They do not worship Joseph Smith but believe that he was the prophet of the restoration. They follow Jesus Christ's teachings. Therefore, they are Christians. The fact that they seek converts and are not exclusive should be some proof that they are not a cult.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • MorRef

      Very well said!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Enough Said

      All your attempts at righteousness are as filthy rags, isn't that what God's word says? You can not work your way into Heaven, Jesus shed blood is the ONLY atonement for you sins. You can never been good enough or participate in enough rituals to be worthy of God and Heaven. Jesus blood is the only thing that washes sins away, just like blood sacrifices were required in the old testament.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • gerald

      So you agree that we will all become gods some day? You believe that plural marriage was taken away for a time and will be restored at some point and is ordained by God? You believe the book of Mormon and Doctrine of Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are equal or better than scripture and are scripture? You believe that one has to get married to enter the highest kingdom of heaven?

      October 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Jed Merrill

      Very well said, JPFlorida!

      Enough Said: Mormons do not believe in salvation by works. This is a common misrepresentation by Evangelicals to try to draw distinction between Mormons and other Christians.

      It is ultimately by Christ that I will be saved.

      However, James teaches that by works is faith made perfect:


      19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

      20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

      21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

      22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

      23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

      24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

      25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

      26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

      It is a massive exaggeration to say that Mormons believe they can work their way into Heaven. We do not deny in any way the divine mission of Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. We do not believe our good works can balance out the scales of justice and earn us a place at God's side. We do believe Christ did that, being the infinite and eternal sacrifice that was sufficient to atone for both the Fall of Adam and the sins of all mankind, if we repent.

      Christ suffered and died that we might not suffer if we would repent, according to our Doctrine and Covenants, chapter 19, verses 16 through 19.


      Doing good IS part of a life of discipleship. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."


      Those who believe grace has a part in a fullness of Christianity but deny the value of works are missing out. The same goes for those who overstate the value of works. Christ's "yoke is easy" and his "burden is light." Yet it is still a yoke.

      I find it curious that modern Christians of various faiths seek to draw us into a debate that happened in the days of Martin Luther and Calvin. We have little interest in the debate, other than following the Bible and any other word that proceeds out of God's mouth (or by His Spirit.)

      October 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Jed Merrill
      Enough Said: Mormons do not believe in salvation by works.

      The biggest problem with what you believe as a mormon is that you can achieve Godhood!. He is the alpha and the omega.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Jed Merrill
      Enough Said: Mormons do not believe in salvation by works.

      The biggest problem with what you believe as a mormon is that you can achieve Godhood!.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  6. nympha

    There have been some stories in the news recently about Mormon scholars who have been excommunicated for research papers that showed that the Book of Mormon is more fiction than fact. But rather than present those news articles, let’s examine some of the problems with the Book of Mormon.

    First, let’s take a look at some logistical problems, beginning with those that concerned LDS apologist and theologian Brigham H. Roberts. Roberts authored the six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church. In 1921, a man investigating Mormonism asked Roberts to answer five questions. These questions vexed Roberts, because he could find no suitable answer. He then posed those same five questions to LDS President Heber J. Grant, Grant’s counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and to the Quorum of the Seventy. They too, were unable to provide suitable answers. Many of the recently excommunicated Mormon scholars mentioned in the last paragraph wrote academic articles conceding to these same difficulties. These five questions are:

    Linguistics. Why, if the American Indians were descended from Lehi, was there such diversity in their languages, and why were there no vestiges of Hebrew in any of them?
    Why does the Book of Mormon say that Lehi found horses when he arrived in America? The horse did not exist in the Americas until the Spaniards brought them over in the sixteenth century.
    Why was Nephi stated to have a bow of steel? Jews did not have steel at that time, and no iron was smelted in the Americas until the Spanish colonization.
    Why does the Book of Mormon mention “swords and cimeters” when scimitars (the current spelling) did not come about until the rise of Islam after 500 A.D.?
    Why does the Book of Mormon mention silk, when silk did not exist in the Americas at that time?
    Let me add my own question here. Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth (History of the Church, 4:461). If that’s true, why has it been subjected to thousands of corrections and alterations since it was first published? Also, some of the LDS scholars to whom I referred in the second paragraph found that the American Indians are genetically more similar to Asians. No Hebrew link can be made through DNA analysis.

    There are also doctrinal discrepancies between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and other source of LDS doctrine. If the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, then why the contradictions? For example:

    D&C 130:3 says, “The idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.” But in Alma 34:36, it says, “And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell.”
    Joseph Smith said, “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345) This introduced the doctrine of eternal progression, which Brigham Young forcefully expounded upon. [Eternal Progression teaches that God was once a man who progressed to Godhood, and we humans have the ability to do the same through strict adherence to LDS doctrines and temple rites.] Yet Moroni 8:18 says, “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable, from all eternity to all eternity.”
    When Joseph Smith contradicts the Book of Mormon, we can reach only one of two conclusions. Either he did not write the Book of Mormon under divine guidance and is therefore a false prophet, or he decided to contradict the teachings of God, in which case he is a false prophet. Smith also stated that no one could see God without the Holy Priesthood. Yet according to his own account, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ nine years before he himself received the priesthood!

    We can also look at Smith’s prophecies directly. In Doctrine and Covenants 87:2, Smith predicted that the American Civil War would “be poured out upon all nations.” This did not occur. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:4-5, he prophesied that a temple would be built in Independence, Missouri during that generation. There is still no such temple. The list goes on. He obviously fails the test of a prophet as outlined in Deuteronomy 18:21-22.

    Paul warned of false prophets in 2 Corinthians 11:13, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” As for the Book of Mormon, and its claim as the “fullness of the everlasting gospel,” Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8-9, “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.”

    The evidence is clear that the Book of Mormon cannot be correct, and Joseph Smith was a false prophet who has deceived many. The truth is that the Bible contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We cannot and should not blaspheme Almighty God by presuming that we can someday become gods, as the LDS doctrine of eternal progression teaches. Satan’s first recorded lie to Adam and Eve was a promise that they would be godlike in their knowledge if they simply disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit. False prophets have perpetuated the lie that promises godhood or godlike qualities ever since.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • I'll Bet

      nympha, I see your copy/paste and raise you one...

      The Bible consists of a collection of sixty-six separate books. These books were chosen, after a bit of haggling, by the Catholic Council of Carthage in 397 A.D.—more than three hundred years after the time of Jesus. This collection is broken into two major sections: The Old Testament, which consists of thirty-nine books, and The New Testament, which consists of twenty-seven books. (Catholic Bibles include additional books known as the Apocrypha.)

      The Old Testament is concerned with the Hebrew God, Yahweh, and purports to be a history of the early Israelites. The New Testament is the work of early Christians and reflects their beliefs about Jesus; it purports to be a history of what Jesus taught and did.

      The composition of the various books is thought to have begun around 1000 B.C., and to have continued for about 1,100 years. Much oral material was included. This was repeated from father to son, revised over and over again, and then put into written form by various editors. These editors often worked in different locales and in different time periods, and were often unaware of each other. Their work was primarily intended for local use and it is unlikely that any author foresaw that his work would be included in a "Bible."

      No original manuscripts exist. There is probably not one book which survives in anything like its original form. There are hundreds of differences between the oldest manuscripts of any one book. These differences indicate that numerous additions and alterations, some accidental and some purposeful, were made to the originals by various authors, editors, and copyists.

      Many biblical authors are unknown. When an author has been named that name has sometimes been selected by pious believers rather than given by the author himself. The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are examples of books which did not carry the names of their actual authors; the present names were assigned long after these four books were written. And—in spite of what the Gospel authors say—biblical scholars are now almost unanimously agreed that none of the Gospel authors was either an actual disciple of Jesus or even an eyewitness to his ministry.

      Although some books of the Bible are traditionally attributed to a single author, many are actually the work of multiple authors. Genesis and John are two examples of books which reflect multiple authorship.

      Many biblical books have the earmarks of fiction. For example, private conversations are often related when no reporter was present. Conversations between God and various individuals are recorded. Prehistoric events are given in great detail. When a story is told by more than one author, there are usually significant differences. Many stories—stories which in their original context are considered even by Christians to be fictional—were borrowed by the biblical authors, adapted for their own purposes, given a historical setting, and then declared to be fact.

      The Flood story is an example of this kind of adaptation. Its migration from the earliest known occurrence in Sumeria, around 1600 B.C., from place to place and eventually to the Bible, can be traced historically. Each time the story was used again, it was altered to speak of local gods and heroes.

      But is the Bible, nevertheless, the work of God? Is it a valid guidebook? How can we know?

      If the Bible were really the work of a perfect, all-powerful, and loving God, one would reasonably expect it to be obviously superlative in every respect—accurate, clear, concise, and consistent throughout—as compared to anything that could possibly be conceived by human intellect alone.

      Fundamentalists, in fact, hold this to be true. Using a circular argument, they say that because the Bible is without error or inconsistency, it must be the work of God, and because it is the work of God, it must be without error or inconsistency. It seems not to matter which proposition comes first, the other is thought to follow.

      Notwithstanding the fundamentalist viewpoint, however, the Bible does contain a number of real problems. And some of these problems are absolutely fatal to its credibility.

      Many passages relate God-ordained atrocities; such passages are unworthy of the Christian God. Some biblical precepts are both unreasonable and unlikely since they are in obvious disagreement with common sense as well as the qualities of character which are attributed to God. Some biblical statements are absurd in that they represent very primitive beliefs. The believability of many biblical stories—stories that are crucial to Christianity—are discredited by numerous inconsistencies. The picture is further complicated by the many different and conflicting interpretations that are often given to a specific passage by sincere, well-intentioned believers.

      While Biblicists are capable of offering some sort of explanation for nearly any biblical problem that can be uncovered, such explanations should be unnecessary. The point is not whether some explanation can be conceived, but rather that a perfect, all-powerful, and loving God certainly could, should, and would do a much better job of it were he to have anything to do with the writing of a book.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • nympha

      I'm afraid it would take all day for me to answer those questions; time I do not have. The questions have been answered in full many times, though, from many biblical and nonbiblical scholars in their areas of expertise. Do I personally believe that there are inconsistancies to the Bible? No, I don't. And, I believe there is proof to that statement but only those "with ears to hear and eyes to see" would the truth/proof be revealed. We can't see God's perfect picture nor can we see all of Him. I don't think God was a "moral monster" in the OT. His justice is perfect even if we don't see it that way.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • gerald

      To add another question... 2 Nephi says "bibles, bibles, we've got bibles". What is interesting about this passage is that it was supposedly written/spoken 600 years before Christ. There was nothing called a bible until 900 to 1000 years later. There is no way they would have used the word bible to speak of what they had. Now it is quite understandable in the context of a 1900th century mason who wanted to start a new religion.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • abinadi

      A very fine, logical and well written piece – all of which means nothing! I am a Mormon and pray for guidance and protection every day of my life. My faith is in my savior, Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ and it's teachings has brought me and my family success in life and happiness. It is the rock on which we base our lives amidst storm tossed seas. I have a wife, whom I love dearly, of 38 years and 6 wonderful children who make me proud and also have happy, successful families and who bless me and my wife rather than curse us. You think you know everything? Who cares and what does it matter?

      October 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • DF

      Wow! And you don't see that your same arguments for the Bible's flaws could be applied to any flaws you see in the Book of Mormon.
      I won't claim to have answers for either book, just trying to see your point from an unbiased perspective, and your arguments about the Book of Mormon have not convinced me it's false any more than any other person has convinced me it is true. Just saying...

      October 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Chad

      To I'll bet, the answer is simple: free agency. Many Christian faiths do hold the contradictory notion you point out, that an all knowing all powerful God would certainly not let what happens in the world, and as recorded in the Bible, happen. This is a good example of how the Bible has lost some of it's original meaning. Thank goodness scripture like the Book of Mormon explains that part of God's plan is for his children to have free agency to choose His way or another, but consequences that seem very ungodly will occur as a result for the ungodly. I don't see the contradiction when the full context is provided. Hallelujah for the restoration that provides full truths, one understandable God and one complete faith.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  7. Chainyanker

    Religion and god(s) was invented by ancient people to do three things:
    1) Explanation of natural phenomenon that the did not understand
    2) Help maintain social order among the masses
    3) Help cope with the harshness and brutality of life

    These days only (3) is somewhat relevant but not necessary considering the strife that religion has caused over the years. Science explains enough to eliminate the first and the rule of law and social systems makes (2) unnecessary. That is to say one can live a life without religion and be just fine. The Church Organism attempts to survive by brainwashing the young and the ignorant so that it can continue to survive. The controlled will feed and nurture the Organism and provide young to continue the process...I learned this when I was 10 and learned the concept of brainwashing introduced to the public by way of some brainwashed POW U.S. soldiers during the Korean War. I realized the same thing was happening in Sunday school.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Enough Said

      You've been deceived then and you have a rude awakening coming.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Jed Merrill

      It is more likely that man invented a diversity of religions to replace the true religion he lost. Why else do we have thousands of Christian religions and not one only?

      But until all men come to a unity of the faith:

      Ephesians 4:11-14 (The Bible)

      11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

      12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

      13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

      14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

      October 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  8. Richard S Kaiser

    I am a Pantheist who believes in GOD being the Allness of Creation itself, whose Spirit is the Oceanic Seas of Nothingness.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Enough Said

      I'm sorry.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  9. PRISM 123

    The Mormon religion IS a cult. Those who are in it,steeped in their doctrines, CAN NOT be saved, because although they use the Name of Jesus Christ , they reject the Spirit of Truth, who testifies of Him. They have been deceived by satan who came in the form of an Angel of light, giving them his own "revelation" ,. Sorry, people... You can't have it both ways...Either it will be the Spirit of Truth, who test-ifies of true God and His Son Jesus Christ, or you can believe your Moroni!

    October 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • David French

      For the Truth you need to read The Book Of Morman.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Enough Said

      The bible is much older than the book of mormon and has never been disproven to be inaccurate by science, or history etc in ANY area, so why would I not believe it when God said it is his Word and that we are not to add to it or we will receive the curses written in it. Do some research of where your book of mormon originated and it's founding fathers and maybe the scales will be removed from your eyes.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • sensitive bunch

      I am trying to find out who interviewed god so that I can have proof that god said that the bible was the ONLY true word on the planet. Joseph Smith did see the Father and the Son. The Book of Mormon mentions that an entire people was completely destroyed. I believe it was because they were all killed, and eaten along with the horses. The battles described in the Book of Mormon are the worst battles ever fought or written about. Take a look.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Beck

      Why would Satan convince somebody to follow God and Jesus Christ? To do so, he would be conspiring against himself and his own kingdom. And if Joseph Smith saw 2 personages, which he claims he did, who was the other "angel of light"? Can Satan split himself in 2?

      October 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Watch It

      Enough Said,

      The Hindu Vedas are much older than the Bible. Have you successfully disproved Vishnu, Shiva, or Ganesha? I have not read all of them, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a curse or two in there against non-believers.

      There is not a shred of verified evidence for any of the supernatural characters or happenings in the Bible.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Outer Limits


      *Anything* and *Everything* are possible in a fantasy.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Jed Merrill

      If Mormonism is a "cult", I am sure God would like more cults to bring 14 million people to His Son Jesus Christ!

      Nothing has helped me understand the Bible like The Book of Mormon, and vice versa.

      Both led me to know Christ as my Savior, and know my relationship to God.

      "By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established", says the Bible. (2 Corinthians 13:1)

      October 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Enough Said

      ensitive bunch
      Joseph Smith did see the Father and the Son. So he says, along with a lot of other strange unbiblical things, like talking to a rock & chocolate. I have taken a look and it is all contrary to God's word and had deceived many souls.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • PRISM 123

      The whole issue between cults, like JW's, mormons and others, and the true Christianity and its denominations it here: What do you say of CHRIST? WHO IS HE?
      It is not enough to say that HE is the son of God.... It is the SPECIFIICS of who HE is. Every cult distorts the truth about Him. That's what they all have in common!
      I am not ignorant about Mormonism, and I can without a doubt say, IT IS A CULT

      October 10, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • PRISM 123

      you said " If Mormonism is a "cult", I am sure God would like more cults to bring 14 million people to His Son Jesus Christ!"

      Friend, You don't understand something... It doesn't matter to satan how he deceives the human souls, and if he can present himself as an angel of light, he'll do it... His common tactic is to use Name of Jesus Christ, take some truth to sugarcoat his lies with, and if he can feed them to unsuspecting sheep, he's got his purpose accomplished... No one can say, by comparing the God of the Holy Bible with the one book of Mormon portrays that it is the same God they are presenting, unless satan has blinded their eyes and they fell in his trap! I have dealt with mormon people in the past, and its' amazing the lack of understanding they have, when it comes to discernment of spirits... But that's always the case with people trapped in cults.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • John Proctor

      PRISM 123


      October 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • PRISM 123

      @J. Proctor

      ........( ? ).........

      October 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  10. Mike Bowsky

    The official name of the "Mormon church" is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. Of course its members follow Christ and know that he is the Savior of all mankind. It is a Christian church. "Mormon" is a nickname. How un-Christian and un-Christ centered can a church be that bears His name?

    October 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Satan uses Jesus'name to deceive, but it doesn't mean he is his saviour. research mormonism vs the bible before you decide they teach the truth of God's word and the truth of Jesus Christ. In the last days the antichrist will come claiming to be Jesus Christ, thereby using his name.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • sensitive bunch

      yes...the anti-christ will come as an individual, not an organization. Silly Bible thumpers.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • PRISM 123

      @Enough said
      I agree, that's exactly the way it is, and will be!


      To you it is silly because your understanding is of no more depth then the shallow mud puddle...
      But the truth NEVER changes, it's SET IN STONE, and you'll have to face it, regardless of your preferences! It's much better and wiser to seek it now, then facing later when you ar forced to acknowledge it..... Do you understand that?!

      October 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  11. Andrew H.

    Are Mormons Christian?

    It is interesting to observe the "traditional Christians" squabble over who is, and who is not a "Christian" and what defines who is.

    If one delves into the fundamental doctrines of all accepted "christian" churches one quickly sees a broad spectrum of divergent incongruous beliefs on such basic tenets as the method of baptism, priesthood celibacy, the natures of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, the reality of Christ and the atonement, etc, etc, etc.

    All proclaim an authoritative stance rooted in scripture and mortal interpretation. Each asserts their view to be the "correct" interpretation of holy writ.

    What unites all "Christians", and is the only real test of Christianity, is a fundamental belief that Jesus Christ, whether a manifestation of a trinity or a being separate from and an offspring of God, is the Savior of mankind; that only through Him can salvation be attained.

    In this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unequivocal in its proclamation. He is who He claimed, and only through Him and His atonement can we return to God. Therefore, they must be "Christian".

    October 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Wrong. Read the bible before you debate it.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Chad

      I've read the Bible. He's right! You should read the Book of Mormon before you debate it.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Jed Merrill

      Link to both the Bible and The Book of Mormon on the "Mormon" website:


      You can also download both for free if you have an Apple, Android, Palm, Windows Mobile or Blackberry device:


      You can also request a physical copy delivered to your door "without money and without price" from these links:


      God bless!

      October 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Andrew H.

      I have, multiple times, and each time I come to the same conclusion. That God is the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ is His son, who was sent to Earth to fulfill and do his Father's will. I also have come to the conclusion that when Jesus was praying to the Father, that he was not praying to himself, nor was he a ventriloquist which threw his voice from heaven to declaring, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased", at the baptism of Jesus at the river Jordan. I have read the words of Christ himself declare that he is the son of God, and does nothing but what the Father tells him to do. I, having read the Bible and studied it's word. I can assuredly reject the creeds of man that teach that God has no body, parts or passion and is unknowable, which most Christian faiths have adopted as to the persona of God. I have faith in Christ and know that he lives. He was resurrected with a body of flesh and bone, and appeared to many, and they handled him and touched him and testified that it was him and he was not just a spirit. He ascended to his Father and sits at His right hand and he promised to come again. The Bible teaches us that Christ will die no more. It teaches us that death is the separation of body and spirit, so if Christ dieth no more and has a body of flesh and bone, how is it that one can say, he has no body, parts or passion? If he was not resurrected, how is it that you can have a hope of the resurrection? I know he was resurrected and I have a hope of the resurrection. Enough said. Peace

      October 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  12. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    IMeanCmOn – "You fail to miss my point" that made my eyes twitch...

    October 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Enough Said

      More than your eyes will twitch someday when you come to know the truth. Your think Lucifer is a big joke, but the joke is on you and he is laughing his head off because he has you snowed.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • So

      "Your think Lucifer is a big joke, but the joke is on you and he is laughing his head off because he has you snowed"

      How do you know he has a head, have you met him?

      October 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Enough said – LOL – the fact that you think Lucifer is real, tells me you are crazier than batsh!t. hahaha

      October 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • PRISM 123

      @Enough said
      How right you are! There is a big surprise awaiting those who are at ease, even making jokes of things even the angels dare not to address!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Cause I've read the Word of God unlike some of you and if you read it you will know what he was when God CREATED him.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Enough Said

      The fact that you don't tell me that you a easily deceived and that you have never read the word of God that you just throw your 2 cents worth in just to hear yourself babble. You'll meet him soon, sad to say, and you will see just how unreal he is. I pray you find truth before that day comes for you because Jesus loves you very much and doesn't want you to perish.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • John Proctor

      PRISM, Did you ever get around to reading/watching "The Crucible" yet? Anyone who speaks of "Satan" as you do is certainly possessed by him... arrest her!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • John Proctor

      Ditto to you, Enough Said.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      save your vitriole godslave. because whatever idiocy you espouse, you still comes across as a rabid bigot, spewing hate at anyone different than you.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Enough Said

      John Proctor
      Ditto to you, Enough Said. Satan can't possess me, darkness can't survive where light reigns. Jesus is the light and he beat Satan to it. Sorry! Now you may be a different story if you don't open to truth. Go to the Light, Jesus Christ!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Lucifer's Evil Twin
      save your vitriole godslave. because whatever idiocy you espouse, you still comes across as a rabid bigot, spewing hate at anyone different than you.

      I tell you out of love not hate. I like God wish for none to perish. You are the one spewing anger not me, i'm so at peace cause peace lives in me. Out of love we warn, not out of hate. I would not be a friend if I did not speak to you of the love of Christ Jesus. If you saw someone walking into the path of an oncoming train wouldn't you want to tell them.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      whatever. arguing with a meat puppet like you is futile.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Enough: If you're looking for a good argument you have come to the right blog, however you should be warned that you can not win. Those of us who disagree with you will ensure you are proven to be the delusional one here. Everything we speak of is backed by evidence. You have no proof of anything for what you claim to, that is a fact. You say we should read the bible when in fact it is more than likely you who should. We have read it and thus the reason most of take the stance we do. We can point you to information that shows how horribly contradictory the book is and we can point you to websites that prove the book incorrect. When you stop belittling us, we will stop belittling you...until that day you look like a big hypocrite who doesn't even follow the book you hold so close to your stone-cold-heart. What you really fail to see is that telling us to repent or else falls on deaf ears...we have already dismissed your delusions and instead choose to live in a world of reality. I'm guessing you're about 12 maybe 13 years old with the way you spew on about stuff that you quite obviously have no clue about. Grow up little one, your kind is quickly becoming the minority.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • PRISM 123

      If you people only knew! ! ! The tragedy is, you will find out, but it will be to late for many of you!

      October 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • So

      "If you people only knew! ! ! The tragedy is, you will find out, but it will be to late for many of you!"

      run chicken little....RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!

      October 10, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  13. J.W

    I had a dream last night that told me where to find irrefutable evidence that God exists, but wouldn't you know it that I woke up and forgot everything.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Weird! I had SAME DREAM only I think it was somewhere in Cleveland (That's right folks Cleveland) where the evidence exists. If I remember correctly (and I might be off) but there's a god bone hidden underneath the rock and roll hall of fame. It's the most beautiful bone in the world and will prove that god exists.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • J.W

      Oh this won't happen again. I am going to start doc.umenting all of my dreams. All of you atheists are in trouble.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  14. clo

    Latter day saints (aka mormons) are members of the church of JESUS CHRIST!! They pray in the name of JESUS CHRIST!! They believe in Jesus Christ, they know he atoned for them, they think him as their Savior and Redeemer.. I mean... Being Christian is believing in Christ and try to be like him! That is exactly what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is about!(sorry if there is any spelling mistake... French person here)

    October 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • IMeanCmOn

      Not true! According to Catholics they are not Christians. They have a lot more people. Majority rules. Sorry, you can not get your Christian card and you are all going to hell.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Enough Said

      One Big Problem, they believe they can become god! He is the Alpha and the Omega. The first and last!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • So

      "One Big Problem, they believe they can become god! He is the Alpha and the Omega. The first and last!"

      Zues came before so it wasn't first and it certainly won't be the last. The sun god is getting followers! Then there is the New Age group that is building steam.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • lds13

      @EnoughSaid: we don't believe that we will become God. We believe that we can become like Gods. I believe in one God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Get It Right

      @Enough Said Get it right, we don't believe that we will become god. We believe that we can become LIKE God. We are literally His children and he wants the best for us, which is to have all that he has. I encourage you to visit mormon.org which clarifies this misconception much better than I can.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Enough Said

      "Zues came before so it wasn't first and it certainly won't be the last. The sun god is getting followers! Then there is the New Age group that is building steam."

      Like I said there is ONLY ONE TRUE GOD! JEHOVAH IS HIS NAME! Hope you find him soon!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Avdin

      Mormons believe that both Jesus and lucifer are "biological" children of Heavenly Father, correct?
      What of John 3:16?
      For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • sensitive bunch

      Understand that only begotten son means son in the flesh. Satan never had a body.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Enough Said

      @EnoughSaid: we don't believe that we will become God. We believe that we can become like Gods. I believe in one God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

      Your doctrine teaches you will become a God of your own planet or universe, whatever, and you will have spirit children with your spirit wife. None of that is in the Bible and God said do not add to the Bible. Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Only God. Please check it all out. Jesus loves you and wants you to know his truth.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • alternativer

      Wow. You are duped.
      They, the Mormons, did not put the name of Christ in their church until late on and only because the other Christian Churches of the day didn't accept them as Christians. It was not because they believed as Christians or followed Christ. They followed Joseph Smith, and considered him the prophet. The Mormons became Christians out of need and necessity, nothing more, and they still do not accept the principles of Christianity in practice. They have their own beliefs in the afterlife and in how mankind is ranked in the eyes of God. They are highly prejudicial and only recently have given more authority to people of color within their Churches.

      October 11, 2011 at 6:02 am |
  15. mokebu

    The church is not the "mormon" church. It is the church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. And people of the church of Jesus Christ of Later Day saints are christians. It is a world wide church that has more than just "white" members. It is a church for all. All and all a good and informative story. Thanks

    October 10, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Reality

      Only for the those interested in a religious update:
      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      3., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      3. 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 blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      5. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

      The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

      Current crises:

      The caste system and cow worship/reverence.

      6. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

      "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

      Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

      Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

      Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • sean

      Mokebu, mormonism is a cult. Everyone else who has a rational mind can see that.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Enough Said

      "Mormon Church" or "Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints", does not matter, what matters is they don't teach the Word of God! They teach you can be a god and that is no where in the Bible and is a lie.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      The entire bible is a lie, so what's your point?

      October 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Enough Said

      If it's a lie, how come it is the only book that has ever never been disproven by science, and that every prophecy in it has come to past with 100% accuracy. Check it out if you're not afraid to be wrong.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I never claimed to be right or wrong godslave. But if you want a good book to believe in, try "Green Eggs & Ham". Now THAT'S a good book.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Get It Right

      @ Enough Said. Read Romans 8:16-17. It says that we can be joint-heirs with Christ. The dictionary defines heirs as a person inheriting and continuing the legacy of a predecessor. If you understand this it is stating that we can inherit and continue the legacy of our Heavenly Father. But then again, don't take my word for it. I can sit on here typing all day long and you won't believe me. I exhort you to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if this is true. If you ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ I know that he will manifest the truth of it to you by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of th Holy Ghost you can know the truth of all things.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Enough Said

      "I never claimed to be right or wrong godslave. But if you want a good book to believe in, try "Green Eggs & Ham". Now THAT'S a good book."
      Well I know I am right! I'll let you read "green eggs and Ham." I read that as a child and it won't save your lost soul!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • John Proctor

      Enough Said,

      John Hathorne and Thomas Danforth "just knew" that they were right too. 🙁

      October 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Look Here

      Enough Said,
      "it [The Bible] is the only book that has ever never been disproven by science, and that every prophecy in it has come to past with 100% accuracy. Check it out if you're not afraid to be wrong."

      Check these out if you're not afraid to be wrong, Enough Said.




      October 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • alternativer

      @ mokebu.
      Another duped person. The history of the Mormons did not have the name of Jesus Christ in the Church name. It was added later because they were not accepted by other Christians, and for good reason. They are not true Christians and the early Mormons read the Book of Mormon not the Bible. It is only over time and lack of growth that has changed the Mormon doctrines to accept people of color into their churches. They were and are highly prejudicial people. It was more obvious 50 years ago than it is today.
      I could create a religion with the name of Jesus Christ in it but that does not mean anything if I do not follow the teachings of the Bible, or choose to follow them in some other manner that is not Christian. Say for instance that I do not believe in the holy trinity or that I believe that people of color are not on the same level as white people? Or that after death only Mormons will be truly saved and exalted to certain heights while animals and people of color will be in lower realms?
      Mormons may not fit the definition of a cult anymore, but throughout history they did, and today they still do not fit the definition of being Christians, even with the name of Jesus Christ attached to their temples.

      October 11, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  16. Reality

    From p. 31:

    Mormonism will slowly fade from society as will contemporary Christianity and Islam because of the obvious problems with the founders of these religions especially their angelic/satanic hallucinations and related prophecies. "Pretty and ugly wingie and/or horn-blowing Moroni thingies" simply do/did not exist.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • IMeanCmOn

      I hope...

      October 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • sean

      Thats what the romans and jews said when christians numbered in the thousands. Sorry reality, your reality isn't very consistent with actual reality....

      October 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Reality

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      October 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • IMeanCmOn

      Correct, although you have to look at the differences between that time and now. While still used as a strong political point, the fear of execution has created a stronger following whether true believers or not. We are thankful to live in a time when a different belief will not result in such penalty. Additionally, the flow of information has allowed the evolution of knowledge to increase. The accessibility to read what is beyond our village may lead to the downfall of an antiquated idea and, I hope, allow this mockery to finally implode in itself.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • IMeanCmOn

      Seems Reality is indeed in Reality.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Andrew H.

      Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

      Oliver Cowdery
      David Whitmer
      Martin Harris

      October 10, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Andrew H.

      The Testimony of Eight Witnesses

      Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

      Christian Whitmer
      Jacob Whitmer
      Peter Whitmer, Jun.
      John Whitmer
      Hiram Page
      Joseph Smith, Sen.
      Hyrum Smith
      Samuel H. Smith

      October 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  17. Enough Said

    The Mormon Church has 4 Standard Works that are authoritative: The Bible (in so far as it is translated correctly), the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. Speeches and writings of the current president of the church are also authoritative. The Bible is far below the other standard Works because it is full of errors (wherever it disagrees with Mormon doctrine).Deuteronomy 12:32

    What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

    Proverbs 30:5-6

    Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

    Revelation 22:18-19

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified [it] by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed [is] he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time [is] at hand. Revelation 1:1-3

    Revelation ends with these verses:

    For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.

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

      "Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll branded Revelation "the insanest of all books".[30] Thomas Jefferson omitted it along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time, he "considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams." [31]

      Martin Luther "found it an offensive piece of work" and John Calvin "had grave doubts about its value."[32]

      October 10, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • nympha

      So right!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Robert G. Ingersoll, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther and John Calvin are not God and anyone who would value their opinion above their Creator is a lost and searching soul. Read it for yourself, don't take the opinion of dead men.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • VA

      John must have been on shrooms when he wrote it. Lol

      October 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • =ity

      What was John doing when writing the Book of Revelation? Was he writing the whole Bible? No, that wasn't compiled until hundreds of years later. He was on the Isle of Patmos. In fact, he wrote The Gospel of John and 1st-3rd John AFTER he wrote Revelation. So could he be talking about the whole Bible, when all of it hand to even been written? I think not. When he says 'this book' he is only talking about Revelation itself. If he wasn't, then he would have violated his own warning. But we know he certainly did not receive any of the plagues he talked about, nor did Joseph Smith. So either John was a false prophet, or else Smith didn't violate the warning. And i assume you know as well as i do that John was indeed a prophet.
      As for the other verses, they follow a similar idea. Deuteronomy is the 5th book in the bible, no? So wouldn't everything after be considered an addition? If you follow that verse as pertaining to the whole bible, everything after Deuteronomy should be removed. Same goes for the Proverbs verse. Then we wouldn't know about any of Jesus's mortal ministry, nor the teachings of Paul or John. Doesn't make much sense now, does it?

      October 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Cyd

      Okay, so should the Bible end after Deuteronomy? Or after Proverbs? People obviously have kept adding to the "word".

      October 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • pikchik

      Isn't it logical that this scripture refers to the book of Revelations not the entire bible. The books in the Old and New Testament were written by different authors at different times. Revelations was not the last book written.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Jed Merrill

      Mormons did not come up with the idea that the Bible has had translation errors over the years. A book by an Evangelical called "Misquoting Jesus" notes over 30,000 translation errors that had been recognized by the 1700's.

      This is not to say that the heart of the Bible is incorrect. In fact, the Book of Mormon helps affirm that the central teachings of the Bible are correct. As the Bible itself teaches, "By two or three witnesses shall every word be established." (2 Corinthians 13:1)

      It's worth noting, too, that a Pew research study last year found that Mormons can answer more questions correctly about the Bible than any other Christian faith. If they understand the Bible, why would they practice out of harmony with it?

      Mormons, a nickname, take upon them the name of Christ at baptism and renew that relationship weekly as they partake of the sacrament. This has not changed since the first week the Church was organized in New York on April 6, 1830.

      "Mormonism" or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (official name), is in fact a First century AD Christian faith, restored in the 19th Century, and practicing in the 21st Century. it is often maligned by those who put 4th Century AD creeds above First Century AD principles taught by Christ.

      Can you blame us for believing God IS knowable? Officially, at least, Evangelicals do not believe this. The Nicaean Creed that they accuse us of not following says God is without body, parts or passions and is unknowable. Christ himself taught that God is not only his Father, but Our Father, sometimes translated more like Daddy. Does that ring of a God who is unknowable?

      14 million Mormons have come to know God through prayer and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We know that Christ is our Savior, and not only believe in Him, but seek to teach and do His sayings.

      We are not perfect. The Bible teaches no one is but Christ. But through Him I and you can return to God after this life and know Him in this life, if we follow Jesus whom God sent.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Andrew H.

      Then by your logic, when Moses wrote in Deut 4:2 " Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you," is that we should toss the rest of the Old Testament and all of the NT away, since God said we should not "add"? If you notice also, that John's revelation is referred to by Christ as a book. (Rev 1 : 11) Anyone who is a scholar of the NT knows that the Bible, as we have it today, was not compiled at the time of their writing, but some 300 years later. It is obvious that John's warning at the end of his revelation was referring to his own "book" of revelations and not the Bible.

      Nevertheless, I will give you the same answer an ancient prophet gave for the same accusation.

      "Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever."

      October 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Reality

      What 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis have concluded:

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review worth reiterating:

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      October 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Mirosal

      To Jed Merrill - you stated that "It's worth noting, too, that a Pew research study last year found that Mormons can answer more questions correctly about the Bible than any other Christian faith. If they understand the Bible, why would they practice out of harmony with it?" You're right, the Mormons did score higher than their contemporaries. But, guess who scored the highest ... that's right, the atheists and agnostics. Why? Because we do NOT follow blindly. We do not see a need for someone who does not know us and our lives to stand at a pulpit or lectern and dictate to us how he thinks we should live. We question the "faith" we were told to believe. We've studied, we've researched. MANY of us were in a church, and went to religious schools, for years. All we are presented with are circular arguments. All we wanted was a straight simple logical answer. Just 2 words for you .... "Russel's teapot". Your answer, and the answer from others of your ilk, is to throw this bible in our face and declare that it's "god's" word. Not a valid answer. Tell you what... have this "god" of yours stop by my door, with a backpack, skinny black tie, white shirt, and we'll talk.

      October 15, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  18. IMeanCmOn

    Maybe we should all do a write-in and place "God" as our presidential choice. Let's see what happens...

    October 10, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  19. fsmgroupie

    magical underwear? magical underwear?

    October 10, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • ThaGerm

      I prefer the term Jesus-Jammies myself 🙂

      October 10, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • MorRef

      This "magical underwear" is NOT any different then was the muslims wear over their clothing to hid them self. It is a religious promise between a MORMON person and God! Maybe you should learn some of the doctrine before you decide to go and be rude about other peoples religions!

      October 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • LaLa

      If you have a problem with someone's underwear then you seriously need to get a life.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  20. OBass

    Why are we wasting time debating who is adequate or not to run for president of our great nation? Let the best win. Our history shows we already had so many good and bad presidents from so many religious denominations. No one is perfect!
    So what Mr. Romney is a Mormon, that Mormonism is the only religious group studied in our kids American History books and Utah is a Mormon state, member of the 50 states of the Union?
    What matters, my friends, is that Mr. Romney is a qualified candidate running for President of this country and without good faith we will never prove we were right or wrong about him. What if he becomes our next president and does great things for our current and future generations?

    October 10, 2011 at 11:51 am |
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About this blog

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.