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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. morpunkt

    I was raised a Protestant, for the first 20 years of my life, got a spiritual witness, (epiphany, if you want to call it that), that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. However, as I got older, I was disillusioned by all of the bickering churches, who back stabbed each other for congregants. After soul searching and prayer, I was led, through a series of events, to investigating and joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (Mormons). I was 20 years old, at the time, in 1975. I first got interested in the Book of Mormon, when overhearing a conversation at a very worldly party, where beer, rock and roll and drugs were prevalent. Some of my friends, for some reason, got into a conversation about religion. One of them, who was 18 years old and a very "inactive" Mormon, and very wild as a teenager, defended his church and admitted that even though he wasn't "the best Mormon" in the world, he knew the Book of Mormon was the word of God. I knew he had no secret agenda. Hardly something that a cult would produce. That's how I got interested in reading it and eventually joined the LDS church, in 1975.
    The doctrines may seem weird to conventional, orthodox Christians. But I can assure you that I'm not in a cult.
    I am much more happy and have an even deeper, multi-dimensional outlook on the far-reaching effect Jesus Christ has in the events of the world and to me, personally. I am more committed than ever, to serving my fellow man, Mormon or not.
    To me, Mormonism is Christianity on steroids.

    October 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  2. gary

    All religions are nonsense cults .. just myths. No dragons, deities, demons, leprechauns, fairies, etc.

    October 16, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  3. Willie

    I doubt pastors are telling their people not to vote for Romney, because if they did, the church would lose their tax exempt staus! It is against the law to tell congregations who to and who not to vote for.

    October 16, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • David

      With that being said, I bet they speak flat out lies if they don't like what they believe in.

      February 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  4. cookingrandma

    Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO man comes to the Father, but by Me." I would encourage people to get into a bible study and learn God's word. The bible is from God and gives us truth. I have studied the bible for some 40 years. Jesus is revealed as to who He is through the scriptures. It's what a person does with Christ that makes them a Christian or not. A Christian is a born again follower of Jesus Christ. It is recognizing that Christ is God, who came in the flesh. He is part of the triunity of the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Even though the word trinity is not mentioned in the scriptures, it is revealed there. A person can give their whole lives to the work of God, religion and church and not be a saved Christian. Read the book of John. Although I have to add here that the study of scripture is not just an intellectual pursuit, it is a spiritual one also. Scripture is revealed to the one who truly wants to know God, and seeks Him with a heart that wants to know Him and is willing to give up living life for themselves to follow God and His ways. It is called a repentent heart. A person can do all kinds of wonderful things and not be on their way to heaven, because we are saved by what Christ accomplished on the cross with our willingness to receive what He did for us. We cannot save ourselves or keep ourselves saved. It is all His work, with our receiving His free gift of salvation.

    October 14, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  5. From My Side of the Fence

    Richard Mouw has some interesting comments. He said: "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."
    Well folks, it seems to me that a lot of people commenting on this blog are still into the us-versus them mentality. Attacking the Mormons, or anyone else for that matter, and pointing out differences when someone attempts to clarify their belief is not Christian-like.
    Why not think: Hmm, interesting. Why is it that these Mormons think this way? There must be good reason. Is it an act of faith if Jesus Christ?
    Any bet you will begin to find similarities rather than differences, and then dialogue will happen.
    If you take a look at your own histories you will see that the Lutherans, the Baptists, the Evangelicals (including Evangelical Lutherans and Evangelical Baptists), etc went against the mainstream religion of their day and started something different.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • TeXan

      But What about that Mormon Underwear???

      October 13, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • gwf

      Jesus himself pointed out the differences in beliefs of other people – so how can we say that doing so is not Christian-like? Jesus opposed those who distorted the truth. He opposed those who taught lies. He opposed those who lifted themselves up with pride, neglecting their own sins.

      Opposing lies with boldness, courage, and based on the Bible is a Biblical thing to do. It's not to be done with pride or arrogance, thinking that we are without sin or that we know all of the answers – but rather with a purpose to proclaim and teach the Truth of God.

      There are many differences between what Mormon's teach and what the Bible teaches ... most importantly, that God was always God and that man can never become a God. How can believers who follow the Truth of the Bible not oppose that? How can they call such followers of the Christ? We have this big group on the others side who think we have to accept the beliefs of everyone ... rather, we should love others and treat them with respect as people, though we will most certainly differ in our beliefs.

      And by some definitions, Christianity could also be called a cult. So could "followers" of PETA. Republicans and Democrats each form a cult of sorts in their own respect. However it is the connotation that is so negative and that can be inflammatory, so I would not have used that term myself.

      October 13, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • From My Side of the Fence

      TeXan: You think Mormons are the only ones who wear any special underwear? http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2008/09/Religious-Underwear.aspx Just interesting.

      October 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • TheDragon117

      @from my side of the fence, Thank you that was such a refreshing statement. I'm personally neither mormon, or christian, I happen to know a fair amount about both having been raised in a family that was half mormon and half catholic. It has never ceased to amaze me that people coming from a faith that teaches love, tolerance, compassion, and the meek inheriting the earth insist on fighting, only one way, you're wrong, and the louder and meaner I get about you the more likely I'll win. Thank you, which ever side of the fence you're on the grass is obviously greener because you actually think, believe, and behave the way I was raised to believe a christian aught to! Even as an atheist I've always thought that the bible has good teachings even if I didn't buy into the whole religion, and one of my personal favorites was And the sea gave up the dead who were in it; and death and hades delivered up the dead who were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. I think that clearly states that god judges a man on how he behaves, and I think your approach is the best I've seen in a long time. Maybe if more people exemplified this christian spirit I would have had more faith in it.

      October 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  6. Sircuts

    David Koresh was Christian too whats your point?

    October 13, 2011 at 2:37 am |
  7. GaryS

    This is so easy. There is no debate. It is in the scripture:

    "I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now seek the favor of men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."

    October 13, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • LindaSDF

      The Book of Mormon is another TESTAMENT of Jesus Christ.
      And if we are not to trust ANY angels from God, then how can we trust the one who told Mary she would bear the Christ child, or the one(s) who said at the tomb that He had risen? If you use Galatians 1:8 against us, you are admitting that Moroni was an angel FROM GOD, and that you can't trust any of them.
      If you claim we have another GOSPEL, then pray tell, which Gospel is the right one? Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Thomas, Judas, etc. They can't all be right because they are not all the same.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • Tyler

      I am a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe in the living Christ, a resurrected and gloried being of flesh and bone, the literal Son of God the Eternal Father, in whose image Man was created. I do not subscribe to traditional Christianity which takes for its doctrine of the nature of God and Jesus primarily from the philosophies of men who without authority or knowledge of the truth created a politically compromised creed at the Council of Nicaea to be used by their Roman dictator as a tool with which to rule his empire some 300 years after the Resurrection. So I may not be a Christian to those who put their faith in such a creed. But would anyone who describes themselves as Christian agree today to appoint leaders of each religious demonination claiming to follow Jesus to a politically charged council tasked with redefining the nature of God and Jesus? Or would you prefer to have such knowledge revealed to you through a Prophet as in the days of the Bible and the truth of that revelation confirmed by the Holy Ghost as occurred after the Resurrection on the Day of Pentacost? As for me, I choose the latter.

      October 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Quack

      There is NO verifiied evidence for ANY divine inspiration for ANY so-called "prophet"... EVER.

      Daffy Duck is as much of a "prophet" as Joseph Smith.

      October 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • TheDragon117

      @Quack no evidence against Joseph Smith being a prophet either. To say that Joseph Smith couldn't be a prophet would be the same as saying that there is no proof that Jesus Christ was the son of god, or that Any of "prophet" ever could have been a prophet. All religion is founded on faith, no one can prove anything. Its sad that people assume one can disprove or prove the other. Just as Science doesn't disprove religion. Just because the bible doesn't say god created this by using atomic and genetics and so on a so forth doesn't mean that god didn't do it that way. If their is an omnipotent being he could have created all of that and set it into motion. The bible is filled with parables and symbolism, just because someone took something literally doesn't mean that god was wrong. Man makes mistakes, the bible has been rewritten a dozen times, if you want to believe in it believe in its message and stop arguing little details. So long as someones teachings are in accordance with whats taught their what difference does it make. Mormons follow all the teachings of the bible plus some, either way they're still doing everything the bible teaches. They love God, they love Jesus, and even the holy ghost....just like the rest of the christian faiths, whats the problem! For a religion that teaches to love thy neighbor to many christian look to fight over little things. When bible says No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Its not saying you all have to be one religion its saying pick god over man. So why the fighting?

      October 15, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Jacob

      @Quack, well of course there is a lack of evidence to prove that a prophet is a prophet; that's where faith comes in, if there was hard, irrevocable evidence, then we lose out on learning to trust the Lord. The people in Jesus' time had little physical evidence that He was the Christ, and what evidence they did have was ignored by most people of the time. That's why the Holy Ghost testifies of what is right and true. Only those who want to follow Christ will receive that testimony of what is right and true, despite whatever "evidence" there may/may not be.

      October 16, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  8. Kelly Warnick

    The Pastor endorsing Perry said in an interview with Anderson Cooper that Mormonism is a cult and went further to say: "...theologically, a cult is a religion that has a human founder verses a divine founder. Joseph Smith is the founder of Mormonism verses Jesus Christ, to whom we look as the head of our church."

    Fact: The Baptist religion was founded by John Smyth in 1609 when he chose to baptize himself as a separatist from the Church of England without any particular claim to divine guidance from Christ to do so, but saw the baptism of babies as inconsistent with his interpretation of The Bible.

    Fact: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 under the premise that God, through Jesus Christ, directed through divine revelation to Smith to establish His organized religion on the earth for latter days.

    I'm not not writing to convince anyone of anything regarding faith or religion. But, does anyone else see flagrant HYPOCRISY merely based on FACTS alone without differences in FAITH?

    October 12, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • John

      Fact: starting your arguments with "Fact:" is sort of a dated thing....

      October 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  9. Joey

    You know, we all have to answer to God Himself. Religion of any faith doesn't assure one of going to heaven. All Christians don't go to heaven, just as any other religious group doesn't have exclusive rights to going to Heaven. It is our relationship with Jesus Christ, and ONLY Him that matters. So if you belong to any "religion", that alone does not guarantee entrance into Heaven.

    October 12, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  10. Eva

    I a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I'd like to share some things that we believe....

    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.

    October 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Joey

      Eva,

      This is sent in love: From your points may I respectfully submit the following in reply:

      1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
      Answer and question: Do you believe in the Trinity?

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

      Answer: The entire human race fell because of Adam's transgression. We too are punished for our own sins IF we are not saved.

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

      Answer: We do NOT rest our salvation on works, such as obedience to the laws and ordinances. We rest our salvation on the work that Jesus provided us, if we receive Him.

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

      Answer: Your fourth point is moot. Only our relationship with Jesus Christ matters. All else are of man, and baptism, for example, does NOT assure salvation.

      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.

      Answer: Jesus Himself told us to into ALL the world and preach the gospel. We don't have to be under any man's authority to do so. We are under Jesus' command.

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

      Answer: Moot point. That is a man-made chain-of-command. We are followers of Jesus Himself.

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

      Answer: That's biblical.

      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.

      Answer: The Bible IS THE WORD OF GOD...PERIOD!!!! The Book of Mormon is a false doctrine. Sorry, but Joseph Smith was not a prophet. The last of the prophets were in the Old Testament. Jesus fulfilled what the Prophets said 2000 years ago.

      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.

      9. 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.

      Answer: False. Not Biblical

      10. 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.

      Answer: So do we, except we try to lead them to Jesus.

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

      Answer: So do we, except we impeach, imprison, or otherwise judicially dispose of those who think they are above the law.

      12. 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.

      Answer: I wish we all could do that.

      Finally, I want to let you know that my own sister is Mormon. She has been one for over 25 years. She is not saved based on the same beliefs you espouse above. The Bible is the SOLE SOURCE of God's inspired word. Get OUT of the book of mormon. It is NOT the inspired word of God. Thank you for listening.

      October 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Benjamin

      Actually, Holland (the member of the Twelve who was mentioned) stated that our actions don't save us, but Christ's grace does. Two Christians have accurately typified our view.

      Gregory Nazianzen :“Our salvation comes...both from ourselves and from God. If God’s help is necessary for doing good and if the good will itself come from Him, it is equally true that the initiative rests with man’s free will.”

      John Chrysostom: “Without God’s aid we should be unable to accomplish good works; nevertheless, even if grace takes the lead, it cooperates with free will. We first of all begin to desire the good and to incline ourselves towards it, and then God steps in to strengthen that desire and render it effective.”

      October 13, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • LindaSDF

      "Answer and question: Do you believe in the Trinity?"
      No, the Trinity is not Biblical. It is part of the unBiblical and unscriptural Creeds, which are an abomination to God. This is one reason why I left the Protestant churches and joined the LDS church.

      "We do NOT rest our salvation on works, such as obedience to the laws and ordinances. We rest our salvation on the work that Jesus provided us, if we receive Him."

      Salvation is not by works, but judgement is on our works, and our exaltation depends on how we have followed the commandments of Jesus Christ.

      "Your fourth point is moot. Only our relationship with Jesus Christ matters. All else are of man, and baptism, for example, does NOT assure salvation."

      Jesus said it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness.

      "Jesus Himself told us to into ALL the world and preach the gospel. We don't have to be under any man's authority to do so. We are under Jesus' command."

      But, you ARE under man's command, since you listen to a pastor. Otherwise, it would be as Paul said to the Ephesians, children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. Chaos and anarchy.

      "That is a man-made chain-of-command. We are followers of Jesus Himself"

      Jesus commanded us to have said "chain of command", otherwise you have the above mentioned anarchy and chaos.

      "The Bible IS THE WORD OF GOD...PERIOD!!!! The Book of Mormon is a false doctrine. Sorry, but Joseph Smith was not a prophet."

      Your opinion.

      "The last of the prophets were in the Old Testament. Jesus fulfilled what the Prophets said 2000 years ago."

      According to your interpretation of the Bible. However, the Bible never mentions the Bible.

      "So do we, except we try to lead them to Jesus."

      So do we.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • gwf

      Eva,

      You presented your beliefs very clearly. This is very informative and helpful here I think, especially for those that aren't very familiar with LDS beliefs. I have a few follow-up questions for you, if you will oblige.

      You wrote: "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."
      - Q: Do you believe God is eternally God from eternity past, or was He once a man (perhaps even a sinful man)?
      - Q: Do you believe the Father and the Son are each a separate God ... did Jesus attain to the state of Godhood?

      You wrote: "We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."
      - Q: Do you believe that through the Atonement of Christ we are saved 'through faith' or 'through obeying laws'?

      You wrote: "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."
      - Q: We have copies of the Bible dating back to the 3rd or 4th century with fragments dating back even earlier ... all in agreement and in the original language (necessitating a common source). So are you saying that the "translation" is incorrect from Greek/Hebrew to English, or that the scribes didn't copy it down correctly for some reason in the first century? If the latter, then do you suggest that for nearly 1,800 years, the sovereign God allowed His truth to be lost to the world, only to be revealed to and translated by the young Joseph Smith by means of buried gold plates and seer stone? Is that a good summary of what you believe?

      You wrote: "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men..."
      - Truly, Mormons are some of the best people I've met, and I would describe most I've met in this way.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  11. Carlies Saga

    @Hear This..

    It was just a mere thought at first until I read his/her post.

    However, if it was really an atheist's ceremony he/she was attending, then I stand myself corrected. Nobody else could make such idiotic acts he/she have mentioned except (atheists) them!

    October 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Are you STILL rambling on about last Sunday's dedication? Are you also THAT illiterate? "if it was really an atheist's ceremony".

      I am an atheist. I attended a baby's dedication at a church, full of the bizarre spectacles I related in my post. I doubt ANY atheist meeting anywhere is replete with the nonsense I witnessed in that church. I pity that poor child and hope that one day, she comes to her senses that her mother was deceived, duped, or was just temporarily lost, emotionally.

      October 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  12. morris2196

    I am an evangelical Christian. In my judgment, Mormon theology differs from the Bible in some fundamental ways. Some of their beliefs and practices also seem strange to me. But I do not believe they are a cult. They may have been 150 years ago as a defense against peresecution, but not now.

    October 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  13. Uba

    So really, there's no singular truth if it's ok to be a mormon or a christian or a jew or a muslim. You just believe what you want to believe, leave everyone else who doesn't believe what you believe alone. But don't go condemning hare krishna or scientology or any other form of so called 'cult' religion just because they don't share the same basic tenets with those of abrahamic faith while it's 'ok cos we're not far apart" for other denominations of it.

    October 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  14. Hlev

    Judgement is an important part of being a God fearing christian. However, the only judgement that truly matters iswhen Jesuss does it when he judges us for our sins!

    October 12, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • cosmicc

      What happened to "judge not lest ye be judged"?

      October 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Truth Sayer

      Cosmicc,

      It means you better be careful how you judge. It should be done in a careful, caring way so as to offer help and direction. remember, we WILL all be judged one day.

      October 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  15. Alex

    Ok, so are we now engaging in political correctness in our churches and seminaries? Social acceptance and convictions don't always go hand in hand. It's interesting that we have gotten to a point in our society where we can't disagree with one another for fear of defamation lawsuits, etc and that this has infiltrated the church. To disagree doesn't communicate hatred, it communicates a challenging and opposing view. For the president of Fuller Seminary to use s large paint brush to say Mormons can "be labelled as Christians" just goes to show where he draws his convictions and where he gets truth from...because it's not the Word that he's reading but rather society and culture. Man up, have some backbone, stand on truth and don't try to appease man...for who is man?

    October 12, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  16. Andi

    I'm confused and need an explanation. I am not christian so I'm trying to understand. I thought if you believed in Jesus Christ either as a savior or as the son of God you were a Christian. If Mormans believe in Jesus how can they not be Christians?

    October 11, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Scott

      You are right, anyone who believes in Christ and seeks to follow Him is a Christian to any outsider applying basic logic. It is too bad that it takes a non-Christian to point out the absurdity of this debate.

      October 11, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • gwf

      Or we could say, "Anyone who believes in Jesus is a Christian". Right? But then the question arises about Muslims and Jehova's Witnesses, who believe in Jesus. Are they Christian? Also too "Christians" who say they are Christians but then commit horrendous acts in the name of Christ. Just because a person believes in Jesus, or else calls themselves a Christian, does that make them a Christian? Perhaps in terms of "religion".

      If I believe in a "moon god" that I've conveniently named Jesus, or Christ ... does that make me a Christian? How about if I say that the moon god is the son of the "sun god". Terminology itself is not enough, but how it's defined, what it means, what "truth" we believe as truth.

      While Mormons do believe in God, and in Jesus, they believe that Jesus was a mere man that God elevated to a state of exaltation and godhood, and that God himself was once a man (note, men are sinful), but was himself elevated (exalted) to the state of being a god by his own god ... and that god who elevated our god was once a man who was elevated by his god ... and so on, with an unending and unbeginning cycle, where any god you have was once a man, requiring a god that would elevate/exalt him ... and this whole cycle without beginning or end would thus create an infinite number of gods.

      The Bible opposes such a belief. And that is the essence of why we who call ourselves believers in the Bible and followers of Christ insist that what LDS believe is not Biblical and they are not Christian. This doesn't mean that LDS aren't great people – as a group they are some of the most wonderful people I know, they have tight-knit communities, and they seem very supportive of each other ... so as people, they're great ... but their beliefs are counter to what the Bible teaches.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  17. ldsmom

    My question is where is the NAACP when a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is attacked on national television? I don't feel as a church we need to prove anything or convert anyone who isn't interested, but to have people who speak without understanding what we believe seem a little unfair. I would never dare to be critical to anyones belief who was sincere in promoting the teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I just pray people will learn what we believe before they make any accusations. I love the Savior and know it is only through him we can be saved!

    October 11, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • myklds

      very well said!

      October 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Eva

      I agree! And to add I don't think any religion is a cult, let people believe what they want to believe and not be persecuted for those believes.

      October 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Agreed, Eva. "let people believe what they want to believe and not be persecuted for those believes."

      So, the believers can leave the public schools alone and quit trying to force their "intelligent design" nonsense into the science curriculum.

      October 14, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  18. Christian

    I am both dismayed at, and amused by, all of the misinformation about religion, particularly the Mormon one, being posted as comments on this board. Rather than coming here for definitive information on religion, I would hope that anyone seeking to learn about a religion would go to its source - learn about it from those who believe in it, not from those who seek to belittle it. I personally have sought to learn about various religions from those who believe in them - Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, Greek Orthodox Christianity, Southern Baptist beliefs, etc. I am a Mormon but I try to understand and learn about what others believe throughout my life - I attended camp with Southern Baptists, worshipped with Korean Presbyterians, sat hand-in-hand at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Seattle, all as a teenager in a Mormon home, ... and 20 years later I have learned from Buddhist monks how they worship and why while in their holy sites. In between, I have explored Judaism with rabbis, explored Hinduism with Hindus in Southern Asia, and much more. I don't judge any of them or try to tell them they are wrong. If they will listen to me, I tell them what I believe. The thing I have found is that if I approach others and their religions in a spirit of love and respect, they will do the same with mine. Then we have a chance to build bonds of friendship and love. Jesus said that we should love God and love our neighbors - that includes everyone, no matter what they believe. He also commanded that we should judge not lest we be judged by the same judgment (since it is God's place to judge, not ours). Let us love and help one another, not attack one another, especially in the name of Jesus.

    October 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Lindy

      I agree with you Christian, who are we to judge, I certainly am not God. I am Catholic and was raised with acceptance of all religion, with that said I feel as Amercians there is a fear of the unknown. In my town, the Mormon Chruch still have it member's out teaching the word of Christ, where other's are not. Mitt, has a good run ahead of him and I wish him well. Sadly, it appears that our country core values are thrown to the side, the division of Chruch & State should remain in tact, vote on the policy and what any man/woman can do to make us once again a strong Nation and leader in our crazy crazy world. God Bless!

      October 12, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • gwf

      Your approach is a very common approach today, and actually an approach often found in the Bible. It's very accepting of others and their beliefs, inviting towards their beliefs, and desiring to learn more about them. On one side, it's good to love people, to learn about them, and to respect them.

      On the other side, the counter approach (which is Biblical) shows those like Solomon who were very accepting of other religions ... which was his sin and resulted in his downfall.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  19. j man

    I find it odd that in spite of his insistance on not judging a religion before you get to know it. He was real quick to throw Jehovahs witnesses under the bus at the first chance he got. I was reading this like "yea he's right we shouldn't judge someone just because we dont agree with what they teach... wait, what, where did that come from. All that bullocks he was sprouting kinda went out the window. Word of advice next time your advocating religous acceptance and against religous pregidous dont particapate in it in the prosses. Is realy hard to take you seriously.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Jenn

      I think you are also missing the point of what Dr. Mouw stated. The point of this letter is to state that we should not call Mormonism a cult, as they engage in open religious dialogue and try to find points of common contact with other religions. A cult does not do these things, and he gave as an example two similar groups such as Jehovah's Witness and Christian Scienctists who do not engage in these dialogues, and thus under his definition would be considered a cult. Rather than assuming that Dr. Mouw is throwing anyone under a bus, you should examine what his argument is, and realize he made those comments to delineate his definition of what is and is not a cult. You are free to disagree with that opinion, as one of his students mentioned in the article I know I don't exactly agree with his definition, which is fine. I just challenge you to understand how he is playing out his argument critically and not make brash assumptions of what he is doing yourself.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  20. J man

    What

    October 11, 2011 at 7:12 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.