Millet urges Christians to look for common beliefs

By John K. Skousen

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, April 14 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Hundreds attended the presentation in the Newport Beach chapel, adjacent to the Newport Beach Temple, to hear Robert L. Millet speak on "What Mormons Believe."

Brent Harder

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Mormon author and scholar Robert L. Millet presented on “What Mormons Really Believe" in the Newport Beach California Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Almost everyone is interested in Mormons,” said Joseph Bentley, former regional public affairs director for the LDS Church. Bentley and David Silva, president of the Newport Beach California Stake of the LDS Church, worked with church volunteers to organize the March event, which was at the Newport Beach California Stake Center near the Newport Beach California Temple.

Millet said that he has spent the past 15 years involved in interfaith relations from which he “developed a deeper reverence for God, and God doing things in his own mysterious way.” Millet’s credentials made him well-suited for this work. A longtime member of the LDS faith with bachelor's and master's degrees from Brigham Young Univeristy, Millet went to Florida State University, where he received a doctorate in religious studies.

Millet was raised in Louisiana, where Mormons were a small minority and where he learned to respect friends and colleagues from many Christian sects. He was quick to note, “Most my friends were Catholics and Baptists. They knew I was a Mormon, and never challenged my faith, put me down or questioned whether I, too, was a Christian.”

Millet said that the key to building bridges in the interfaith dialog between Christians is to establish grounds for common beliefs, which for Mormons would include their belief in the person and power of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and God the Son, “fully human yet fully God,” and who will return to earth again to reign as King of Kings for a thousand years.

He continued, “We, too, believe in the New Testament accounts regarding the virgin birth, life, ministry, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the universal resurrection of mankind. … He is the mediator and the advocate for God the Father.” As a pattern for living, “Jesus possessed a perfect love toward people of all walks of life … with the Atonement being his greatest act of love.”

Like most Christians, Mormons believe that no man can be saved except through the grace of the Savior, and therefore they strive to live by faith in his name as the only name by which salvation comes.

Despite many common grounds, Millet said that opportunities for dialog should continue regarding differences between Mormon theology and certain doctrinal creeds of the “Nicene Christians,” which was developed three centuries after Christ. Millet stressed that “disagreeing with the Nicenes is different that disagreeing with the New Testament.” He said that “Having a different theology about Jesus in this respect certainly does not merit the accusation that we worship a ‘different Jesus.’”

Millet said that consistent with the New Testament, Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is both “God the Son” and the “Son of God,” with the Son in every respect being equal in power and authority to God the Father, and that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost constitute “One Eternal God.”

Millet added that Mormons need not choose between the Bible or the Book of Mormon because the Book of Mormon stands together with the Bible as a witness for Christ, and they do support each other.

“In fact,” added Millet, “I have taught the Bible as the word of God in my religion classes for 40 years now.”

Millet addressed the charge that Mormons were viewed by some as arrogant because they are “working to become like God himself."

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