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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. Rick

    Maybe Dr. Mouw needs to review his old seminary notes from his Christian Fundamentals class or retire. Historical Chiristianity has as much in common with Mormonism as Christianity has with Hinduism. Mormonism was rejected by all the historical Christian Denominations at its inception for what it was, a non-Christian polytheistic cult. We are not discussing politics or conservative ethics but Biblical Theology. Fuller students, don't be so open minded that your brain falls out, stick to the authority of Gods Word the Bible. Remember, Joseph Smith was the guy who said in 1837 that," the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do- that they live generally to near the age of a 1000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style". (Young Woman's Journal, Oliver B. Huntington , vol. 3 p. 263, 1892). Deuteronomy Ch. 13 and 18 warn against false prophets like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. The Jesus of the Bible said he was the Way the Truth and the Life, their is salvation and forgiveness of sins in no other.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • Kev

      Rick, are there some other sources to back up that quote to verify that it was an actual quote, and was recorded closer to the time it was supposedly said in 1837? Becaue if original source of where you got that quote was no earlier than 1892, then that puts the validy of that quote into question, since the source you quoted was dated some 65 years after it was supposedly said and almost 50 years after Joseph Smith was killed.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • Kev

      Correction to make from my previous comment it was 55 years not 65 years.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Dr H

      All the talk about 'historical Christianity' is absurd. If how long something's been around is the standard by which truth is measured, then the Jewish elders were right about Jesus and his little band of followers. They accused him of precisely the same things that anti-Mormon religious zealots accuse the LDS church of now. Jesus was persectuted by the leaders of the dominant religion of his time and place, because he taught that they had strayed from God's truth and his spiritual power attracted many followers. They said he was breaking with longstanding religious traditions, they accused him of blasphemy, they twisted his words or used the false witness of others against him. If 'historical Christianity' were that important, then by that standard today's Christians would be more Christian than the original followers of Jesus, who had no established Christianity to bludgeon one another with, but rather based their faith on Jesus' words, the Holy Spirit, and the priesthood authority of those Jesus ordained to organize his church. Joseph Smith and those who believe in his being called by Jesus Christ focus their attention on the words of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the priesthood authority they believe was given by the resurrected apostles Peter, James and John to Joseph Smith. The fact that they don't regard tradition as authoritative only puts them in the same line of thought as the original Christians.

      October 11, 2011 at 3:11 am |
    • alternativer

      Religious history has a lot to do with Mormons and understanding what they are.
      They did not allow people of color into their churches for many years, most of the years. It is fairly recent that they have allowed people of color into their church and they still practice prejudicial separation.
      They, the Mormons, are not Christians. They may claim to be, but they are not. No matter how they try to change history and who they decide to accept into their churches they will always remain fundamentally non-Christian.
      They have different beliefs in the afterlife than Christianity.
      And in the beginning they didn't even use the bible for proselytizing, only their book of Mormon.

      October 11, 2011 at 6:44 am |
    • Musica1

      Rick, you say that "historical Christian denominations rejected Mormonism," but the truth is that they rejected each other as well. At the time Joseph smith had his revelation fom God, preachers from different Protestant denominations would go around having tent revivals, telling the people who came that only they were right and that you shouldn't join another denomination. That's what had Joseph Smith praying so hard about which church to join,

      And @altenativer, you say that Mormons didn't allow people of color into their churches, but that isn't true. People of color were always welcome. The men couldn't hold the Priethood for awhile, but they could be members. Because God's plan is one of order. Did you know that Jesus did not minister to the Gentiles while he was on earth because it wasn't yet the Gentiles time? Unless you're Jewish, Jesus wouldn't have had much to do with you, because the people of Israel were to be the first taught. Does that mean God loves me less because I'm a Gentile? No He loves all of his children equally. But things are orderly in God's work, so my ancestors were taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ when the time was right. To everything there is a season.

      October 11, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  2. M King

    Richard Mouw is an idiot.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  3. Samantha Stapley

    Like other religions joseph smith established the church just like someone else started the protestant, christian, orthodox, and etc. That doesn't mean he is the leader! We worship Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ. We have a prophet, which is just like a pope or any other religious leader. Our whole religion is about christ and getting back to live with god someday. We are just like any other human beings who believe in something. For some reason though people pick on our religion. I don't really understand why. Any other religion is fine but if you're LDS, woah it's not ok.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  4. Joe Fattal

    Christianity is a religion. All denominations are cults. To be a Christian is good enough for someone as to be a Muslim or a Jew. Denominations are usually a different interpretation from other denomination. A different way of life. A different view of what is faith or what is not. Look at the Amish, they are backwards, they live in 18th century. Does it makes more holy than a Protestant, or a Catholic, or a Baptist or even a mormon?. No. To be Christian is good enough for me. I was born that way and I'll stay that way.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  5. brenna

    If the world wants to know if Mormons are Christian, why aren't they seeking to know what Jesus thinks by asking Him in prayer? Why are they seeking to interpret texts or create definitions based on historical traditions? Seems like if you believe in Jesus, and believe in prayer, you should be able to pray to Jesus and ask Him if Mormons count as Christians and put an end to the argument once and for all.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • matt

      I am curious – how does that work? How does your answer arrive? How do you know the answer has come from Jesus? I'm not trying to be a wiseass. I seriously want to know, because it doesn't make sense to me. I meditate, pray, and think about things and come away feeling like I have cleared my mind and can make my own judgment, but I never feel that I have been given an absolute answer. I do not have the unquestioning certainty that you seem to enjoy. Also, Jesus is dead. He died on a cross. If you are looking for answers to contemporary questions, you can interpret Jesus' teachings or you can ask God through prayer, but I don't get the "Jesus is my pal" thing where you dial him up, ask a question and get an answer. Making it sound that simple makes me not trust the solution. I also think the issue of whether Mormonism is Christian is fairly simple, but my solution is different than yours; Compare mainstream Mormon teachings with mainstream Christian teachings and decide if they are compatible.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • kristi

      Matt, I agree that it is not so simple. Talking with God and learning how He talks back is something that takes practice and time and effort. But He will answer. Here is the "formual" that we (Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons) are taught. First, you must study it out in your mind. This means that you must do the research and the pondering and the praying for insight and guidance. Once you have come to your own decision then you must ask God if it is right. If it is right, you will have what is commonly called "a burning in the bosom" or maybe you will feel your heart fill up with joy. If it is wrong then you will have what is called "a stupor of thought" or you will forget what you were thinking, or become confused. I suggest you look at mormon.org as a place to start researching and pondering.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • john

      How would you know who was answering you? 2 Cor 11:14 says Satan transforms himself into an angel a light, Eph 6:11 about the tricks STD uses to mislead, 1 tim 4:1 talks about inspired teachings of demons, Rev 12:9 talks about STD misleading the entire earth. We can draw one conclusion from this & that is if its popular it's probably Satanic. Most of what mainstream Christianity teaches is opposite to God's word. Like Jesus said of the religious leaders of his day: they have 'made God's word invalid by their tradition'!

      October 11, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Jason

      Matt, Jesus' teachings on asking God, our Father in Heaven, for things we need are some of my favorite in the Bible. Matthew 7:7-11 about our Father which is in heaven giving good things to them that ask him are powerful. And, it works like Jesus teaches that it does.

      Yes, Jesus died, but He was resurrected and lives today continuing to work with the Father and the Holy Spirit to try and help us return to them. For me to get this clear answer regarding the LDS faith took lots of study, fasting, prayer, and effort to live more in harmony with Jesus' word. But, I did receive a powerful answer that has changed my life. But, we are all different and I'm not sure what it will take for you to receive a clear answer, but I'm sure it will involve clearly asking our Father in Heaven what you need to know while being willing to live in harmony with the answer you receive. Being the kind Father God is, He doesn't seem to usually give us more truth than we can handle or incorporate in our lives. But, we can progress slowly from grace to grace as we live in harmony with what truths He has given us already. It sounds like you may already be further along than I was when I started seeking an answer. Good luck!

      October 11, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  6. jstrick

    What people fail to see is that the vision of Joseph Smith, in a biblical sense, is not out of the norm . If it says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, why would it be so strange for God to communicate to people through prophets as he did in both the Old and New Testament? With regards to the assumption that there be no "new" scripture after the words contained in the Bible, if that were the case the Bible would've ceased in the Old Testament. Many see the verse contained in Revelations as the "end all" for divine revelation to be recorded yet we find similar verses in Deuteronomy and in Galatians. So if there be no need for new scripture, the why would God inspire men to continue to record his message even after these books? Wouldn't it make sense that God give the people of the present the same privilege of continuous revelation through a man, whom has been called by that same God, as he did with the people of old? And many may answer that statement with a response, "We have the bible through which God communicates to us. There is no need for continuous revelation through a prophet." I, again, simply reply if that be the case, then why continue the Bible after so many prophets? The words of the prophets have always been recorded so that argument is null. For those who assume that the LDS faith worships prophets such as Joseph Smith, they couldn't be more wrong. Latter Day Saints hold the prophets in high esteem BUT only worship God the Father and his son Jesus Christ. For more information on the LDS Church beliefs, see mormon.org or just ask a member of the Church instead of disgruntle ex members or people who assume to know the LDS beliefs.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Jason Van Bemmel

      Biblically speaking, Joseph Smith's visions and the "revelation" he supposedly received are out of the norm. In the Bible, whenever God gave someone new revelation, two things were present: eye-witnesses and confirming miracles. Jospeh Smith has neither. By the way, neither does Muhammed. Thus, Joseph Smith's visions resemble Muhammed's more closely than they resemble the Biblical pattern. Without eye-witnesses and/or confirming miracles, it's just one man's report of what he claims happened. God does not work that way. He does not leave us at the mercy of one man's opinion.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Ken

      To Jason Van Bemmel,

      Jason, to say there are no witnesses or miracles is incorrect. There are 11 witnesses to the Book of Mormon –3 who saw the angel Moroni and the plates and 8 who saw just the plates. Each of the 3 witnesses left the church and yet never denied his testimony of what he saw and heard. I have read the Book of Mormon and the Bible and the answer to my prayers was that they are true and that I should follow Christ. And yes, I am a disciple of Christ, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a "mormon" I invite you and all to learn more at mormon.org.

      It is true that Joseph Smith's vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ was to him and him alone, but isn't that the same for all prophets? In fact, I think that most prophets or individuals in the Bible had individual visions or revelations. Here are some off the top of my head: Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Mary, Joseph, Stephen, Paul, John the Revelator, etc. There were definitely some groups who experienced the same vision or revelation (Peter, James and John, the sheperds), but I don't think these are as numerous in the scriptures as individual revelations.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Ldv

      I agree

      October 11, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  7. Adam

    Most mormons I know will tell you what they believe based on a spiritual experience that they have personally had, not because of what the theologist says. Honestly, with as much deception and dishonesty that is tied in with almost every religion I know, I think that is pretty admirable. I have a co-worker that is LDS that told me he is only Mormon because of the spiritual experiences that he has had while living its teachings. I can't vouch for that because I've never had those feelings, but we've had some long conversations on the subject, I can't argue with his experiences, even if the theoogy doesn't always make sense to me. Isn't that what religion is really about anyway, how it makes us feel? I think our feelings are about the only thing that we can honestly trust with way too much misinformation out there. My feelings don't have room to allow for a man-made organized religion, but the way my co-worker lives his religion on a day-to-day basis, if I had to choose a religion to follow, it would probably be mormonism. They are the only religion I know of where they are actually required to make serious social and spiritual sacrifices on a daily basis. I don't know if I could give up my social drinking, but if I were a part of a religion I would expect it to require more of me than most other religions I know that continue to slack more and more in their allowances in virtuous living and personal sacrifice.

    October 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  8. Teniece

    I appreciate what Richard J. Mouw has said. As for those who dispute him, I hope you have your credentials out as he does. If you are just an angry person trying to get back at something/someone who has done you wrong then go take care of it directly and not through a comment on an esteemed member of society's public address. I am LDS and I'm proud to say that I HAVE had open discussions with my non-LDS friends and not in the journey to convert them. I believe that the original person to say a Christian needed to be in office is not entirely right. I believe that a person who has a good heart and a good mind does not have to be Christian.

    October 10, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't care who you are. This is a public forum and anyone who chooses to do so has a right to post whatever he/she wishes as long as said post doesn't violate the guidelines of the forum. If you want to set up your own website, then go do so, but you don't run this one.

      October 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Scott - other

      Just as I do not need the credentials of a master plumber in order to tell that a toilet is broken, I do not need a PHD to tell that religions in general and the LDS in particular are also broken

      October 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I find the implied similarity between a toilet and religion to be particularly good...

      October 11, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Jules

      @ scott-other: one also does not need to be a master plumber to know when the toilet is full of crap. I personally find those who finger point and mock the faithful to be sorely arrogant and closed-minded. Humans use about 90% of our brain capacity. Who knows what is possible with the rest? I leave open the possibility that so much more is out there than we can observe or test empirically. I like to equate religious/spiritual experiences to tasting salt. How should I explain that flavor to someone who has never tasted salt? The only adequate term is "salty." I feel bad that you have never tasted it. I hope you open your eyes one day to greater experiences.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:50 am |
  9. DZ_JEEPIN

    Someone else has always said it better already...

    But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
    -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

    Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
    -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

    October 10, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  10. Jack

    The dictionary definition of "cult" notwithstanding, in common usage today the term has become a derogatory slur used by narrow minded egocentric people to describe an organized religion or belief system that is not their own.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Scott - other

      Jack: I call BS on you. Please prove you are not just another unscrupulous religion-head willing to lie for your religion by providing complete references to your quote from “the dictionary”

      October 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Jules

      @Scott-other: seriously? You call BS on someone who just defined a cult within the context of the discussion? People like you do love to equate the religious with lemmings, but you know what? I see just as much narrow-mindedness in those like you. You just worship something other than a god. Go do something useful with yourself instead sitting around and calling BS on anyone whose opinion is A) in favor or religion and B) different than yours.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  11. SomeGuy

    "There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore looking like an idiot" – Stephen Wright

    October 10, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  12. Dr. Donald W. Ingwerson

    I read President Mouw's remarks about Mormon's not being a cult and in the process he referenced other religions who he did think were cults. He named Christian Science as a cult. In the Oxford American Dictionary a definition of a cult is, "devotion to or admiration of a person or thing". The very use of the term in connection with Christian Science is misleading. Usually the term "cult" conjures up a picture of some esoteric group on the fringes of society blindly following a domineering personality. But this is about as far from the century-old Christian Science denomination as can be imagined! Christian Scientists practice their religious teaching out of a reasoned conviction of its truth– not from blind, irrational feeling about Mary Baker Eddy. Their churches and Reading Rooms are open to all, an their services are dignified and simple. Some religionists, though, tend to confuse the issue by not using this term "cult" in the sense that most people understand it at all. They apply it to virtually any group that departs from certain doctrines which they believe to be biblical. But this is to make words mean what one wants them to mean. Thoughtful Christians in many denominations reject the assumption that any group of people has a right to label as a "cult" any denomination that disagrees with that group's definition of true Christianity.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • AP

      Right you are Dr. Ingwerson, the word CULT used in this article and the point of contentions here is not taken from Oxford American Dictionary. It is a term used by Evangelicals. According to this term Cult as used by Evangelicals, Mormonism is a cult and so is Christian Science.

      October 10, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Ldv

      Maybe the Southern Baptists are cults they pretend to be christians. There are saying that "whoever obsessed in name calling represent themselves to be such." May their souls rested in peace.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  13. TruthPrevails

    Could we all stop feeding the latest troll (EnoughSaid) please? It is quite obvious that EnoughSaid has been far too brainwashed to give a damn about what others outside of his/her belief has to say. The sooner it gets ignored the sooner it goes away. The latest claim in reply to one of my comments from EnoughSaid was about how science is proving creationism correct more an more every day and proving that we all come from Adam and Eve (so to speak).
    No point arguing with a fool. 🙂

    October 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Real Deal

      TruthPrevails,

      I am sort of torn about that one (shooing ES away). Yes, she/he is a dodo, but her/his name is Legion (as it were), and refuting her is quite easy.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  14. Ozymandias71

    So for one brief season, the LDS church and Evangelical Christians found a common cause – Proposition 8, in California. Then, when they got what they wanted, and tens of thousands of law-abiding Californians who had done the LDS no harm found their marriage rights suddenly stripped away from them, the alliance fell apart – and now those self-same Evangelicals are saying 'We can't have a Mormon for President!' Misinformation, fear and outright lies abound, demonizing Mormons as non-Christian, as Cultists, as polygamists, etc. etc. etc.

    Sounds awfully familiar. Oh yeah – that's what the Mormon media campaign said about Gay and Lesbian Californians.

    Karma. Awesome, awesome karma.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Ajo

      You say that the mormons and other religious types stripped the marriage rights from the gay and lesbians in CA. You aren't entirely correct in that. mormons in total, no matter what they voted account for around 2% of the entire states votes. They didn't take these rights away from the gay community. their own neighbors did. Mormons were not the only people that voted that day against the gay society. Everyone likes to hate them because they were publicly against marriage rights but there were a whole lot more people that were privately against it too.

      October 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  15. Mike Zollinger

    I find it Ironic that he is calling Mormon's a "cult" when He Himself is engaging in a practice that would without question be considered cultish, that of telling your "followers" who and who not to vote for.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • john

      & he believes in a Trinity!! mental

      October 11, 2011 at 12:18 am |
  16. George Robinson

    Dear Richard Mouw, I admire your honesty and willingness to learn about the LDS Church. Thank you for your comments.

    ThaGerm: Everything you said about the LDS church is wrong. If these things are wrong, what does that tell you about the ultimate source of those ideas? Are you willing to learn the truth, as Richard Mouw has done? It's okay to disagree with LDS doctrines. Just make sure you know what they really are.

    October 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  17. rustyjb

    We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.

    We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

    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 remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    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.

    We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

    We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

    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.

    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.

    We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    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.

    We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition 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

    Pretty straight forward.

    October 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      Well, that's a pretty absurd set of beliefs. Why would a diving being need to have an "atonement" done to pay for anything, for starters. Weird scapegoat stuff. Earlier religions tried it too, to no avail.

      How come your merciful god keeps needing to "punish" everyone? Sounds like a pretty nasty piece of goods, that god of yours.

      And the tongues and prophecies stuff, wow. Far out. Show your proof.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Madtown

      We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly
      ---–
      Correct according to whom?

      October 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Scott - 1

      Well, you may believe “in doing good to all men”; but I remember back in high school the Mormon teens were the most repressed, miserable and messed up group in the entire school

      October 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      October 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Well, you may believe “in doing good to all men”; but I remember back in high school the Mormon teens were the most repressed, miserable and messed up group in the entire school"

      Well High School if you were the least bit different than the Disney Channel norm society expected you to be miserable and messed up. From the Goths to the Nerds, High School was not a happy place for every kid.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • janelle

      Thank you for posting that!! Amen.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • rustyjb

      It is our privilege to believe as we may. We invite all to come unto Christ. Should you choose not to we respect your decisions and will not put you down as you also have the privilege to believe as you may.

      October 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Teniece

      To the person under the name "Reality" I'd like you to recheck your facts again. Jesus was crucified on a vote. It was either Jesus get crucified or a murderer, and the Jews chose Jesus because they believed he was a blasphemer by saying he was the Son of God.

      October 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Were you there, Teniece?

      October 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  18. JT

    You Mormons shouldn't get all in a wad. Evangelicals think Catholicism is a cult too. Of course you're all cults if you're a free thinker.

    October 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Nown

      RAmen!

      October 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  19. Reader

    Wait... isn't their name "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" ... ? Pretty sure they say right there that they follow and worship Christ. I know a lot of members of the LDS church and they don't seem like a cult to me.

    October 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Chad

      ThaGerm, your understanding of Mormons is a stretch at best. "Bulletproof?" Could you quote an authority of the church on that. No, you can't. If you understood the deep understandings they wouldn't be anymore scary than the surface understanding you confess is good. The temple is not to be feared anymore than it was in times of Moses and the ark of the covenant. Yes, many would have thought the things performed in the temples of the Bible were scary rituals, but not if they understood the sacred rituals. It amazes me that people want to talk most about what they understand least about others. That will only perpetuate misinformation, misunderstanding, and fear for no reason at all. Oh, I'm sure members of the church would love to help you move if you asked, but please don't call the temple for that...that's hardly what the temple is meant for, though if they organized that for you before anyway, that's really going out of their way to be nice...extraordinary isn't it!

      October 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Scott - 1

      @Chad: “The temple is not to be feared anymore than it was in times of Moses and the ark of the covenant.” Have you read the bible? Do you realize how many tens of thousands of people it says Moses had his people slaughter in the name of his god. Have you read Leviticus and Deuteronomy and all the screwy rules and rituals they had about the temple?....... Oh…. Or are you just using code to warn us because your church will excommunicate (if not obliterate) you for telling the truth?

      October 10, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • James

      ThaGerm,

      There is some very incorrect information in your post. I am actually grateful you're so willing to say what you know (or have been told), I just wish you would've finished with, "Ask a Mormon."

      October 10, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  20. Chad

    "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."

    Atheism is a cult (just substi tute "intellectual" for "divine" )..

    October 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • DB COpper

      All Religions are cults

      a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
      2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
      3. the object of such devotion.
      4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
      5. Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • JT

      So, the lack of a belief in a deity is a cult? Is the lack of belief in leprachauns a cult too? What about lack of belief in fairies?

      October 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Chad,
      "'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.'

      Atheism is a cult (just substi tute 'intellectual' for 'divine' ).."

      Even if you were correct, which you are not, "divine approval" is supposedly unquestionable, intellectual approval can be questioned and refuted by better logic or evidence. The two are not interchangeable.

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

      A different Chad here: So Nominus, then Science is always seeking but never ever coming to the truth. So what you are saying is the points you make on here are always refutable, never absolute truth. And the second you claim otherwise, that something you say is true (unchangeable or irrefutable) you are then no better than religion just as the other Chad pointed out to begin with.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Chad (another one),
      "can be questioned and refuted by better logic or evidence"

      If better logic or evidence is presented, yes, but that does not say that everything can always be refuted. There must be a reason to accept an alternative explanation.
      And just to clarify, science, which was not the original term used by the way, never claims 100% certainty, but may in fact be 100% true, there is a difference.

      October 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.