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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. DB COpper

    Let me start by stating that All Religions are Cults. Having said that Mormons are not Christains, and I find their claims of additional revelation insulting on many levels. Joseph Smith DID NOT find/encounter an angel in Upstate NY that gave him magical tablets with hieroglyphs on them....this was/is pure fantasy. Lets live in reality people...Christanity hijacked the ancient Jewish religious stories and crowned Jesus as Messiah...Muhammed hijacked Christain/Jewish religion and crowned himself the last prophet with a revelation....and Mormons are the next in line to attempt a hijacking of previous religions inorder to validate their own.

    October 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Jewish? Just wondering. 🙂

      October 10, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • James Anderson

      Dear COPPER...you must be the most uneducated person in the world...Your comments are the most redicules I have ever read....

      October 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • ThaGerm

      James Anderson,
      HE is the most uneducated? Cause everything he said is true whether you choose to accept it or not. The process he refers to as "highjacking" is actually called Transmogrification and is a VERY common theme and practice throughout antiquity and still happening today. In fact it's pervasiveness in our culture couldn't possible be overstated. the only "redicules" part of this post is where you slam on somebody as being uneducated while using terms like "most" and misspelling ridiculous while trying to tear down a person for commenting on an extremely prevalent and accepted phenomena.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Scott - 1

      RAmen

      October 10, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Tyler Smith

      DB COpper.... COOL IT, MAN! I'm a mormon. I've got nothing against your beliefs, but the lack of respect is ridiculous.
      The main difference between my religion and yours, is that we believe that God continues to speak today. Joseph Smith cannot be proven true or not by scientific means. And using your own beliefs to try and discredit him is foolish.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • charlene pac

      How could God communicating with his prophet on earth be insulting? God communicated with His prophets throughout Biblical times, and does today. God's love and care for us shows his ultmate purpose: He said -This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immorality and eternal life of man.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Conner

      I'm a mormon and we can't prove all that we believe through scientific explanation, but you can't prove us wrong either. "And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom" -1st Nephi ch. 34 (in the book of mormon). That City name was was unheard of almost 200 years ago in North eastern United states (or anywhere) from a farmboy who had never known of Middle eastern language. That Name was found by Archeologists just a few years ago, yet Joseph Smith translated it almost 200 years ago. Try to prove it wrong, you cant.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  2. Central Scrutinizer

    My fellow Americans! Take up the cause. Phoock the mormons and christians and Islam, etc. Let truth guide you! We are running out of time. The country and the world is falling apart!! It is up to US!!

    Until such time as an Atheist, an Agnostic, an openly ho-mose-xual person, or any other minority can be seriously considered for political office, particularly the presidency, then I hang my head in shame as an American. Sure, Obama is half black and that is a step in the right direction. But where are the Asians, Africans, Mexicans, Gays, Atheists, Agnostics and all other minorities? Scr-ew the Christians! Let some intelligent folks move the country forward for a change. The Christian Right are liars, cheats, thieves and charlatans. The Dems just lie to fit in. Americans, let’s take back our country! The time is now! Call out the politicians on their lies. Call out the banks on their thievery. Take Wall Street money away from the politicians. Smart people in Congress, that should be our mantra, Carry on with common sense or we are doo-med. It is up to us to remove them!

    Right now, only morons and liars can run for office. How does this help America??

    October 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  3. Rob

    Sounds nice Jeep. Would you vote for an Atheist or a Muslim? Just asking.
    It seems easy to talk about but actually acting on that idea is hard for some.
    I would not call Mormon a cult. I would not consider Mormon belief Christian but that is my belief. I don't look down on others for their beliefs. Others will not have to answer to me, and make no assertian that my view of them could carry such weight.

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

      @DB COpper and Rob;

      Such hate and intolerance in one sentence, DB COpper, It is really sad that you degrade one's beliefs to just a "fairy tale" so quickly. So much for respect. I bet you avoid those who are not of your race in supermarkets and on the streets as well...

      Rob, why yes I would vote for a Muslim. I believe that there is good in everyone. Why on earth would I not vote for a Muslim? Because our society has labeled them as terrorists? Well, there are American terrorists as well. We should be careful not to stereotype a whole race or religion based on a few radicals. I would also vote for an Atheist. I'm not sure how else to tell you this but IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT SOMEONE BELIEVES, "fairy tale" or not, actions speak louder than words. I would vote for a Muslim or Atheist any day, if they were qualified for the job.

      October 10, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  4. Stephanie

    This is a wonderful article. Thank you, Richard J. Mouw, for sharing your positive view of our faith (I also belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as Mormons), for taking a stance against the popular view that our faith is a cult and for acknowledging our faith and sincere belief in Jesus Christ.

    October 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  5. Jeep

    Reading the first page of comments here makes me glad. I am glad that people are realizing that religion is not something that should determine one's candidacy. I feel like members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are frequently persecuted for their beliefs when there are much crazier things out there. It is wrong to discriminate based on race today, as should it be to discriminate based on religion. These "religiosts" (racists, but with religion.... sorry if that doesn't make sense) are trying to distract the public from what matters most. We need a good, responsible, honest person to be our Commander in Chief, regardless of race, religion, food preference, favorite movie, etc...

    October 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • DB COpper

      How about a president that does not believe in fairy tales? Would you vote for someone who did not believe deities?

      October 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  6. Rob

    So Beverly. Do you believe if you have been good enough you will become a God and have your own planet? I didn't see that listed in your 13 examples.

    October 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Jeep

      Why is it such a hard thing to grasp that a loving Father would want His children to enjoy all the blessings that He has? I bet you have kids, wouldn't you like them to be like you, or even better than you some day? I am not saying that Mormons believe they will be greater than the Father, I am just saying that He loves us, and wants us to have everything that He has. Why is that crazy?

      October 10, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Daniel

      It is written in #9. I assume you are not a father, because no father would want his children to have anything except all that he has. Just because we believe that we are literally heirs (Romans 8:17) of God does not diminish His power. How much pride do you get if your children are successful? Are you no longer their father? Do they no longer look up to you as their hero? Why would you choose to believe a doctrine that diminishes the worth of your soul as anything less than a child of God?

      October 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  7. Richard Kaiser

    The cultivators of culturalisms do declare the cultural designations of cults ro be of culturally significant cultivations. 🙂

    October 10, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  8. Beverly

    I am amazed always that people will purport to know so much about my faith (I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints since I was 25...a convert...I'm now 63) who really have never studied it or had a discussion with an active member. Josh...all 4 of those statements you mentioned are false...people take a bit of information from here, there and yon...second hand a lot of times and put it forth as truth.....I attended several churches before I investigated and joined this church...I was looking for goodness and truth...and a place that taught the word of God and didn't waste time each Sunday belittling others'beliefs...you will never hear such things from our pulpits throughout the world. I have asked countless people of may different faiths what their beliefs are...many cannot say for sure what their church teaches...but most children in our church from age 8 can recite our articles of faith which I will share here:
    1) We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
    2) we believe that all men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
    3) We believe that through the Atonment of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
    4) We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance, third Baptism by immersion for the remisssion of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    5) We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
    6) We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, viz., apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.
    7) We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.
    8) We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
    9) We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
    10) We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this (the American) continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
    11) We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may.
    12) We believe in being subject to kings, persidents, rulers and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.
    13) We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virutous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the adominition of Paul – We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. – Joseph Smith
    THAT pretty much sums it up and IS the truth from an actual member in good faith of this church.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      @ Beverly,,,,,, ,,,,,, ,, ,

      I am a Christian Beverly, in that I believe upon the moral guidelines of Christ Jesus' teachings. I am but a lowly sinner who has swayed from the path of devout and devoted righteousness. I can only believe that my sinfulness in the past will be absolved when I die and am put upon the seat of judgment. This world is not of the Kingdom of GOD and never ever will be. Christ Jesus Himself did make mention of this world not being of His Kingdom Domain.

      We are labourers together with God and are His Husbandry and Buildings and Temples but, most importantly, we or rather, our bodies are the Kingdoms of the Gods. At least, this is how I have deduced the scriptures from the KJVB.

      Mat 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

      I've been searching the years as to Gods' Kingdomly Domains.

      Jhn 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

      My belief in what Christ Jesus has thusly said cannot be undermined for this world is not a Godly Kingdom Domain.

      1Cr 3:9 “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.”

      1Cr 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

      Luk 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is inside/within you."

      How, Beverly might you consider such scripture to be viewed?

      October 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bob Taylor

      Beverlyer
      I'm curious if you are a member of the LDS or the REFORMED LDS??
      Your mention of the teachings of Joseph Smith would be more appropriate for a member of the reformed Church of LDS. There is quite a difference in the teachings/beliefs of the two churches of LDS. The reformed Church of LDS is based on the original teachings of Joseph Smith which I have been shown are quite different from the Utah LDS Church founded on the revised teachings of Brigham Young. There are great differences in theology according to a minister of the Reformed LDS I attended a few college classes with.
      The most import difference this minister pointed out is SHE never could have held her position in the LDS church of Brigham Young! Is it true what I have been told (by a distant relative of my wife who was mormon) a woman must be married to attain salvation as women can only be saved thru a male? This is the reason for "symbolic marriages?"
      Which mormon church is Mitt Romney a member of? The church of Joseph Smith, or the church as redefined by Brigham Young after the troubles in Illinois and the breakup of the original mormon church?

      October 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Chad

      To Bob: Beverly is speaking of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not the reformed church. Mitt Romney is a member of the LDS not the RLDS.The reformed church is just that, reformed. It is actually the departure from the church that Joseph Smith restored. A woman would not have been allowed to hold the priesthood during Joseph Smith's time or during Brigham Young's time. Of course, likewise the reformed church would naturally feel that it keeps closer to the original tenets of Joseph Smith than Brigham Young did.

      At this point though, the reformed church appears much more like any other protestant church out there and not much like a church run by modern revelation. Yes, women can be saved without marriage. God saves individuals. We are each responsible for our own sins and no others. In order to be exalted, however, "the man is not without the woman and the woman is not without the man in the Lord," so each needs the other (See 1 Corinthians 11:11).

      October 10, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Chad

      Please note: when I say we are responsible for our own sins, I am not excluding Jesus from taking upon Him our sins. I'm saying that we will be judged of our own sins, no one else's, if these sins are not repented of and washed clean by the Lord.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Unmormoned

      Beverly,

      Since you are a convert, as you say, you may have a more limited experience than "Born in the Covenant" members (or former members). If you had been lucky enough to be "Born In the Covenant" you would have grown up reciting those "13 Articles of Faith" even before you had any grasp of what they mean. The result is an early, personal identification "I'm LDS, and WE BELIEVE....."

      However, this in itself doesn't make mormonism a cult, I would venture to say that all religions do this to some extent. But don't misunderstand me, as an "apostate" member of the LDS church, I am telling you that Mormonism is a Cult. The word Cult is an unfortunate one, as it is part of a vocabulary that goes along with the very "belitting" you have already mentioned (more on that some other time, perhaps). Mormons aren't devil worshipers, nor do they make animal sacrifices, grow horns, etc. However, they are a "peculiar people" who keep to themselves, isolate from other religions, place very heavy emotional and social pressure on their members to go with the flow, and do what mormons do. They are also very keen to ensuring that those who go against the teachings of the church are "fellowshipped", or "brought back into the fold". none of these are especially strange behaviors in the world of religion. but the long and short of it is, it is practically impossible to leave the LDS church.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  9. Richard 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?

    Love
    GOD

    October 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • JT

      Did you forget to take your meds again?

      October 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ask him to translate his post. He can't. He just blabbers the same moronic nonsense over and over. He's either insane or a troll who's only here to get attention because his mommy and daddy ignored him.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  10. B. H.

    This is NOT an issue of religious tolerance or intolerance or even prejudice, it's an issue of how Christianity is and will be defined, which is pretty serious. I do not vote on the basis of religion, but if I was a person who did then I would want the candidate to be truthful about his or her ideas and beliefs. The way Christianity is defined at this point does not include Mormonism. Is that going to change, if so then who is going to decide? If it matters to you whether the President is a Christian then you need to be informed as to whether Mormonism is a Christian Cult or not. To me, it's not an issue of religious intolerance but a matter of redefining Christianity. It's a simple problem, are Mormons a Christian cult or not. Do Christian Church leaders decide that or does the Court?

    October 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "The way Christianity is defined at this point does not include Mormonism."
      Is this not what is being discussed? You seem to be closing the discussion by claiming it has already been decided.

      October 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  11. CNB

    Some people have criticized this review written by Mr. Mouw at CNN. Heres another by the Washington Post.

    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2007/12/are_mormons_christians.html

    It addresses a few things this post doesn't and others it does a little better I think.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Good article, thanks.

      October 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  12. Rob

    Rache

    So I pose these questions, does that make me a bad person? No
    And how does that define Mormonism as a cult? Why would the LDS faith be a cult? Same as other mentioned.
    I think that many people say that because it is different and unknown to them, but if they take the time and get to know what the LDS faith is about then they find that many of their preconcieved notions and rumors that they have heard and believed are actually false.
    So Morman do not teach that if you are good enough, you become a God yourself and have your own planet?
    yes, or no. Its pretty simple.
    The scripture that was quoted in no way makes this statement. Seems like Jesus would have been all over teaching that to everyone. If the Book of Morman doesn't teach this, just state that it is a lie.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  13. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Thank you, Professor Mouw, for your intelligent assessment of where Mormons stand vis-a-vis the beliefs of Evangelical Christians. While there are distinct differences, there are also distinct differences among many Evangelicals, as well as between Evangelicals and the mainline Protestant churches, and between Evangelicals and Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox churches. Those differences were sufficient to result in church schisms, and in some cases active denial of civil rights for denominations in the minority in nations with established churches, leading in some cases to civil wars (including in Britain). Yet modern Christians have learned to keep their disputes within the bounds of religious discussions, and not make them the basis of classifying religious minorities as second class citizens who are not allowed to fully participate in the larger society.

    Frankly, it has always mystified me that a pastor in a Mainline denominiation who does not believe in the reality of Christ's resurrection can be accepted as Christian (though misguided) by Evangelicals, while I as a "Mormon", who positively affirms every Sunday the reality of Christ as the Son of God, who created the earth as Jehovah, and performed the atoning sacrifice for all mankind, and was resurrected as witnessed by the apostles, and ascended into heaven, am somehow classified as being "not anything like a Christian" by the same people.

    To the surprise of many, the Book of Mormon affirms the reality of Christ as God, and the prophesied Redeemer of mankind. For example, the Book of Mormon tells us that a prophet named Nephi wrote: "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." The Book of Mormon affirms the truth of the Bible's testimony of the reality of Christ as the Savior of all mankind, no matter where or when we have lived.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  14. AGuest9

    Is this person claiming that evangelicals are more level-headed? Ever met any?

    October 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  15. Marie Britt

    I haven't read the many posts already online but am wondering if anyone has thought to mention the big brouhaha over presidential candidate John f Kenney. As a Catholic, his religion was brought to the fore during his campaign. This was mostly due to the numerous nasty rumors about the Catholic church brought out decades before by the klu klux klan (the lack of capitals is by design, not accident). My mother told me of the many outrageous bits of fiction put forth, such as that Catholics were purported to toss Protestant babies into the air and catching them on swords. My mother wasn't Catholic but she was greatly offended by what she considered to be out-and-out lies. After an initial flurry of sensationalism, the talk died and religion didn't appear to enter into JFK's serving as President. The media has been asking political pundits if they believe Romney's Mormonism is important and they all answer yes. My question is why? We're supposed to have a separation of church and state so why should this be an issue? We certainly have enough safeguards in government to preclude any President encroaching on our freedoms with religion. Let's get on to more important issues, shall we?

    y

    October 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Robert Kenney

      My brother was many things but president, no way.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  16. Matt

    It amazes me how ignorant some people are. The term "Cult" is just a cop-out word that ignorant people use to demean another person's beliefs. But they don't even understand its meaning. The dictionary definition of Cult encompasses ALL religious affiliations. The way that some people are using it now is just like a curse word. Just derogatory name-calling.

    As per the Mormons as Christians discussion, how is that really in debate? If they believe in Christ and follow His teachings, then are they not Christians? The spurious claim that to be Christian requires adherence to the Nicene Creed or other creeds would disqualify a lot of religions from being called Christian. Many Christian religions today accept one, but not all of the creeds. Some accept parts of the whole creed. Requiring adherence to creeds would in fact disqualify the historical original Christians from being Christian. There is much proof that early Christians differed in belief from what is described in the Creeds. The creeds were an effort to bring those Christian sects together under a single belief. But those who made the creeds were men who differed from each other in their beliefs. The creeds were built on a compromise of beliefs. How can Christianity be sure that those creeds were the correct Christian beliefs when they were built on compromise? The definition of Christian from the beginning, before creeds, been a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. That has been the definition irrespective of creeds. If you think the authors of the creeds got it right, then I suppose that would make you a specific type of Christian (let's call it a Credence Christian). But don't exclude others from being Christian and professing their belief in Christ simply because they disagree with you about statements made by man about God. Instead look to the statements made by God about God.

    Let us look to and never forget Christ's definition of a true disciple: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." – John 13:35

    October 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Jon

      You are right. If there are people that do follow Christ, then they are Christians... However Mormonism and Christianity follow two completely different Jesus'. The Jesus (Messiah) who the mormons claim to believe in, is "a god" or the "son of god" or an exalted god man. However, Christians believe that Jesus was / is *the* God, one in three persons of the Trinity. This is not a downplay on their faith... This is stating why I claim they are not Christian. The terms have been redefined in Mormonism and mean *almost* the same... until you get deeper into their doctrine will you find the actual definitions.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Chad

      Amen, Matt. John: Mormons believe Jesus created the world, in other words that He was God before the world was. Try again!

      October 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Enough Said

      So
      "You don't know what it is to live. You are dead and don't even know it."
      Nice assumptions on your part and again with NO proof.
      There is tons of proof, you're just not open to it and God's a gentleman and he won't force you. If its just lies it won't hurt you to check it out. I shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with you so that you could find some meaning to your existence, but I can't do anymore for you. Your existence is empty without Jesus Christ and always will be. There is so much more for you if you would dare to give him a chance. Just take a peek at his word who will know. You can still keep your macho I don't need it image if you chose to but you might just find a lot of answers to questions you have about why you are here. God Bless You!

      October 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Chad

      @Enough Said: you haven't explained at all anything beyond accepting Christ about why we are here. You don't know why else you are here and you have no idea what comes after this life. You have been ridiculing anyone who suggests that God has more for us than accepting Him, so it's you who has so much more to accept and receive if you were willing. Instead of attacking my premises of what we can attain to in this life and the next (ie-becoming like God) why don't you explain for us how your harp lessons are going (or some other point of what you do besides talk of Christ)? The gospel is a gospel of action not just words and what you sow is what you will reap. So please, what is the purpose of life beyond accepting Christ, which we both have already done, and we would have been caught up like the city of Enoch had that been enough?

      October 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  17. A Believer

    John 3:16-...."For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosover believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life"

    October 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      So your omnipotent creature needed to have his son killed in order to do the job. Uh Huh. Try looking up "omnipotent" sometime. Wacky stuff, what you believe.

      That crazy scapegoat stuff was in several religions before Christianity. Copycats!

      October 10, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Reality

      John 3:16 is a single attestation in the NT and many contemporary NT scholars to include Professors Crossan, Ludemann, Borg and Fredriksen have concluded that it was not said by the historical Jesus. It was, they conclude, an addition to embellish the life of Jesus to gain converts/money to/for the cause.

      e.g. http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=350_Jesus_to_Nicodemus and Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 443 and pp. 694 and 695.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Faith

      Gotta have 'Faith' to believe in him.

      It is not like you don't know the truth of Christ's plan of salvation for mankind, it is the obstinance in you that refuses to acknowledge his lordship over your life.

      The choice is yours!

      October 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Enough Said

      The Brain Fumigator
      His ways are higher than your ways and he love you even when you belittle him. That's the great thing about Him.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • So

      "His ways are higher than your ways and he love you even when you belittle him. That's the great thing about Him."

      Not according to your cult, it's says he will go to hell. The god in the bible is not a loving god, he gave you a rulebook to follow supposedly, it's him telling you how to love him, not that he is loving you. It's all bogus anyways to brainwash the peasants into doing hard labor without fighting back.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      Uh, right, that "loving" god. Thanks for the tsunamis and the pain and suffering, god dude. Not.

      But here's a dead bloody burning animal since that seems to make your god happy.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      What So said. Right on.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Enough Said

      "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
      To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 peter 2:21

      tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. John 13:16

      October 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      TBF 1:1 There is no god. Laugh and live well. You won't get a second chance.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Enough Said

      he Brain Fumigator
      TBF 1:1 There is no god. Laugh and live well. You won't get a second chance.
      You don't know what it is to live. You are dead and don't even know it. The laughing won't last. Why do I need a second chance when I have eternal life?

      October 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • AGuest9

      It's funny how people can talk about an imaginary friend like he/she/it really exists.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • So

      "You don't know what it is to live. You are dead and don't even know it."

      Nice assumptions on your part and again with NO proof. 😉

      October 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Enough Said

      AGuest9
      It's funny how people can talk about an imaginary friend like he/she/it really exists.
      It's funny how people call God imaginary but cry out to him when trouble comes. It's funny how atheist spend their lives trying to disprove a God they say they don't even believe in. For someone who is supposedly imaginary he sure does get a lot of the atheists time and attention.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Enough Said, I was a live and let live kind of guy until a bunch of believers came into my childrens' school system, and tried to spread their lies as "science". They and the 9/11 hijackers made some powerful enemies for organized religons.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • AGuest9

      BTW, friends and family have helped more than any church ever has (which it didn't, at all).

      October 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Enough Said

      AGuest9
      I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about a relationship with Jesus. Big difference. That is the problem, too many people are looking for someone to help them when they should be helping others. We are the hands and feet of Christ. It is not a what can you do for me doctrine, it is a what can I do for you one.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      Enough Said, enough is enough. Prove that you have such a relationship with Jesus. A real, two way relationship, else you are just mentally mastur-bating into your bible. Describe in detail what Jesus says to you specifically.

      Bible quotes don't count; that silly book of evil was written by many folk long before you were born.

      Seriously, explain to us with details what makes you think Jesus gives a crap about you, by telling us what he says to you individually. Real personal relationships are a two way street.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      Enough Said, enough is enough. Prove that you have such a relationship with Jesus. A real, two way relationship, else you are just mentally mas-tur-bat-ing into your bible. Describe in detail what Jesus says to you specifically.

      Bible quotes don't count; that silly book of evil was written by many folk long before you were born.

      Seriously, explain to us with details what makes you think Jesus gives a crap about you, by telling us what he says to you individually. Real personal relationships are a two way street.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • JT

      Oh goodie....babble verse time:

      Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Real Deal

      The Brain Fumigator... "Seriously, explain to us with details what makes you think Jesus gives a crap about you, by telling us what he says to you individually."

      I have asked that question at least 100 times. They never answer it.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Scott - 1

      Jesus was a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

      October 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  18. Curly0102

    Mr. Mouw,

    Thank you so much for taking a stand that may not be popular with some of your colleagues. It is refreshing to hear someone with your importance and gospel knowledge to speak out against wrong. I feel sorry for Jeffress (and Perry) in the wake of all the commotion they have caused. I am a Mormon and have always considered myself a Christian. I have read the words of Christ and try to follow them as much as possible. My oldest son's middle name is Christian. I'm just glad it is not Jeffress, or you, or even the leaders of my own church who will be my judge. As Bible scholars know, one day we will all sit at the judgement seat of Christ (Romans 14:10) and I hope at that time that the Savior will look at me and say, "Welcome, Christian."

    October 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Enough Said

      It's about a personal relationship with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of the ONLY GOD EVER!

      October 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • So

      "ONLY GOD EVER!"

      Nope, there are too many Gods – you've got your faith in the wrong one.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Enough Said

      The God I know said, "thou shalt have no other gods before me." Yes there are a lot of false gods, but only one TRUE GOD and only one TRUE CREATOR of ALL MAN. You are man, you will never be a God. You have been deceived. There is nothing in the word of God to support your belief.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • So

      "and only one TRUE CREATOR of ALL MAN."

      There is not proof of that.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Enough Said

      So
      "and only one TRUE CREATOR of ALL MAN." There is not proof of that. There is not proof of anything other than that. Science is proving it everyday. Archeologists are digging it up daily. We were made for God's glory. He loves us and wants us to live with him eternally, the Bible says that. How can you be with Him eternally if you are the God over your own world? You can't. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh who died so you can spend eternity with God the Father in the Only Heaven that he is Lord over. God the Father send us the Holy Spirit, "The comforter" to guide us home. Once you accept Jesus as the Lord and savior of your life and the son of the ONLY GOD you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and then your eyes will be opened. Don't make the same mistake that Satan made to think that you could ever be equal to or rise above God. He created you. You are not going to be a creator. You can be a part of the Bride of Christ, but you will not have a spirit bride to procreate with. It is all lies. The rituals that take place in the mormon temple are dark and full of occultic symbolism. I do not tell you that to insult you, I tell you to open your eyes to truth. MANY of my family are Mormons and have been all their lives. I love them dearly so I am not out to insult you. I would love to meet you in Heaven someday, but first you have go accept who God is and Who Jesus Christ is and who you are only through Christ. You can be a sibling of Christ, but never a god.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • So

      "We were made for God's glory. He loves us and wants us to live with him eternally, the Bible says that."

      You can't use the bible as proof moron, there is no proof outside of the bible. It's a fictional book to keep people brainwashed and submissive.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Know What

      Enough Said,

      "It's about a personal relationship with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,"

      Having a "personal relationship with Jesus" - that is late 20th century pop-religio-psychobabble. You would never have heard that term a hundred years ago.

      A personal relationship is a two way deal. So, you talk to Jesus. Does he talk back? What does he say?... anything that you don't already know, or that you couldn't dream up using your imagination?

      You are talking to yourself... and answering.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • So

      "Jesus Christ is God in the flesh who died so you can spend eternity with God the Father in the Only Heaven that he is Lord over."

      Nope, he was the bastard son of a woman who didn't want to get killed so she came up with a bogus story to save her ass. It's just like the Santa Claus story humans past the story on from person to person and next thing you know you've created the son of a god. Doesn't mean it's real.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Enough Said

      So
      You can't use the bible as proof moron, there is no proof outside of the bible. It's a fictional book to keep people brainwashed and submissive.
      Why can't I. Every prophecy in it has come true so far to include everything that is happening right now in the middle east, right down to the tiniest details. You can call me a moron, it doesn't bother me cause I know beyond a shadow of doubt that God is God. Take the book of Daniel and the book of revelations and watch surf today's new's headlines not the mention look at the biblical artifacts reports on this year alone and then call me a moron, but don't call me a moron on something you obviously know nothing about. You don't like to hear about the word of God because if conflicts with your sinful nature and for you to begin to entertain it as true would condemn you so it is easier to call it a lie and feel good about your sins. I know I was once lost too.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • So

      "Why can't I. Every prophecy in it has come true so far to include everything that is happening right now in the middle east, right down to the tiniest details. "

      Uh duh...you can do that for every century if you wanted too and the centuries to come. Nostradamus, the Mayan, the Hopi, also make predictions that you can apply to all sorts of things in history to make them become true – doesn't mean it's real!

      October 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Know What

      Enough Said,

      Every Biblical prophecy has come true? Rubbish. Look here for a whole bunch of them: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Failed_biblical_prophecies#Destruction_of_Tyre

      "Destruction of Tyre

      For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee. And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers. By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach. With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground. And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water. And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard. And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. [2]

      -------

      In this block of text God states quite blatantly that Nebuchadnezzar would sack and destroy completely the city of Tyre. However the events given in this passage never did come to pass. After a 13 year siege Nebuchadnezzar withdrew his forces. Tyre survived quite prosperously after that for another 240 years until it was done away with by Alexander the Great."

      October 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Know What

      Enough Said, Here's another one, just in case you are too afraid to go to the link:

      Destruction of Egypt

      Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee. And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it. Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years. And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.[4]

      --------------

      This passage is one of the most erroneous in the entire Bible. Egypt has never been a desolate waste, there has never been a time when people have not walked through it, there has never been a period of forty years when Egypt was uninhabited, and it has never been surrounded by other desolate countries.[5]

      October 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it,” therefore I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush. No foot of man or animal will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries.

      Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered. I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry.

      There is simply no time in Egypt’s history where this prophecy has been fulfilled as written. Egypt has been continuously inhabited since well before Ezekiel’s time. In fact non-believers often cite this prophecy as proof that God does not have a perfect record in fulfilling His prophecies. They don’t understand that Egypt still has quite a future ahead. I believe this prophecy will be fulfilled in the Millennium, as hinted in Zechariah 14:17-18.

      October 10, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Know What

      Enough Said,

      CYA - big time!

      October 10, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  19. Sircuts

    Secret ritual, Racist slurs in The Book Of Mormon, A founder who claims to be a prophet of god...It is not a cult, It is a racist satanic cult

    October 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • qwerty12

      Don't forget misogynist.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Regardless, can you show that it is not right?

      October 10, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Ben

      Moses believed he was a prophet of God. So did Noah. Why is Joseph Smith being a prophet a strange copy. Read Amos 3:7. God works through prophets.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Charles Wayne Foster Reese

      There is no such thing in The Book of Mormon. I would like for you to please show or prove your accusation if you can.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Ben
      Moses believed he was a prophet of God. So did Noah. Why is Joseph Smith being a prophet a strange copy. Read Amos 3:7. God works through prophets.
      Because Noah and Moses' belief did not contradict with the Word of God.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Paul

      Obviously, you know nothing of what you are speaking about. There is a hugh difference between sacred and secret rituals. Even you can see and partake in the rituals , that are sacred, after you become a member and pass two separate worthiness interviews. Racial slurs ? No such thing. Please step back and look at the religion as it is, not something that someone told you about. Put it to the test that is offered and if you are sincere , in your search, you will find the same answer that so many others have found as well.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Jon

      @Ben Hebrews 1:1, no longer needs "prophets" which the Mormon church claims to have. It was pre-christos days that he used prophets, now he uses his son. .the word (John 1:1) and the word of God. No living prophets.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Enough Said

      Paul
      Call it what you like, but the Bible says nothing is secret with God. And all I have to do to be accepted by my God is accept his son as my savior. I don't have to wear an apron, pass through a dark curtain, wear certain underwear of anything else. He loves me as I am and I am forgiven because he paid it all. I am worthy because his blood makes me worthy and I don't have to take or pass any worthiness interviews. I love everyone because he first loved me. I am not religious, I am bought by the blood of Jesus Christ and adopted into God's family through my acceptance of His Son and I am in personal relationship with him. I am sincere about God of the Bible, not god of the Book of Mormon. They are not the same. I have found the ONLY answer, his name is JESUS CHRIST and I am not on a search, I am on the great commission to lead the lost sheep to the shepherd. I am a child of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and the ONLY MAKER of ALL Heaven and Earth and of Every galaxy and every living thing today, tomorrow and forever. There will never be another like HIM EVER!!!!!!
      October 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm | |

      October 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      "There will never be another like HIM EVER!!!!!!" – too funny, with or without the excess exclamation marks.

      Your god-jeebus scapegoat stories were just copied from older supersti-tions. So your big Him is much like earlier ones. Bound to happen again with the next religious myth after yours.

      But again, why did your omnipotent creature need so much killing and other hoopla? Why not do the saving job without it?

      I'll tell you the answer since you aren't too smart: your bearded old guy in the sky doesn't exist.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • AGuest9

      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” – Joseph Goebbels

      Sadly, religion proved the Nazi right. Ironic, isn't it?

      October 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • So

      "October 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm"

      LOL! that isn't true nor does it really exist, date and time were created by men for men, just like the bible was created to by men to control men. It's all in your head, the mind is a powerful tool but so weak in the hands of the insane.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Enough Said

      AGuest9
      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” – Joseph Goebbels
      Sadly, religion proved the Nazi right. Ironic, isn't it? What to you believe in? Nothing? Superman, and american idol, and McDonalds etc.... Is that all their is to your life? Self serving emptiness? Hope not.

      October 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Madtown

      Enough Said:
      I am a child of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
      ----–
      Hey Enough Said, I've always been curious, what about those "unfortunate" souls whom God created, but just happened to be born to a portion of this world where they had no opportunity to have a "relationship with Jesus Christ"? Think African tribes, or other primitive cultures. Are these souls also not children of the King of Kings? Of course they are. So, why would God create them to simply damn them to hell for eternity? Is that what would become of someone if they had no opportunity to learn about Jesus, through no fault of their own, and didn't even have a choice to believe or not?

      October 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Enough Said, I believe in myself. I was the only one when I took my first breath, and I will be the only one who when I take my last. Save your fairy tales for someone who believes that they are real, and keep them out of the schools, unless they are paid for by a church. If those people wish to ruin their childrens' futures, they can go right ahead (it's one of the reasons that our country is in the toilet, currently). Then THEY can work at McDonald's, or be preachers. They won't make it anywhere in science or medicine.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  20. Sircuts

    A true politician would challenge them not as a religion, but as the biggest money laundering ring ever .Built on the philosophy of a traitor

    October 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
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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.