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Comments about ‘LDS Christianity: Differences that matter’

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Published: Sunday, Nov. 27 2011 11:39 p.m. MST

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BrentBot
Salt Lake City, UT

The conundrum faced in describing LDS differences with Evangelicals is that most of our unique theology can be referenced in non-Canonical works. There were some 300 inspired books written prior to the Fourth Century, only 66 which were considered Canonical. The Fourth Century (and subsequent) councils excluded those which were considered too "esoteric". Some of the excluded works reference temple worship, baptism of ancestors, theosis, eternal progression, and the need to obey the Commandments as well as grace for salvation.

How can we convince Evangelicals that these aspects of our faith are valid, if they only rely on those Scriptures which the Fourth Century (and subsequent) councils found acceptable?

ThinksIThink
SEATTLE, WA

"Who has the right to decide whether a man or a woman is Christian?" Millet asked. "Who has the power to gaze into another person's soul and know their deepest desires, their eternal yearnings, the object and source of their faith?

Who has the right to determine who is "worthy" to go to the temple?

JoeBlow
Miami Area, Fl

"Bryan Fischer, claimed that Latter-day Saints are not Christian and are therefore not entitled to First Amendment protections of religious freedom."

I would think one would be arguing against the above statement before wanting inclusion in that group.

Quite the mental stretch to justify that the Constitution only applies to Christian faiths.

Religions bashing Religions. A very common theme.
Mine is RIGHT and yours is Something Less.

And we wonder why religions cause such discourse in the world.

Uncle Rico
Sandy, UT

"From an LDS point of view, if there were no differences, there would have been no need for the Savior to re-establish his church through Joseph Smith"

My favorite part of this article.

Thanks for a well written, accurate portrayal
many have tried to "Enlighten" us on. I could never comprehend the Nicene Creed and it's portrayal of the Godhead which directly defines our relationship with God.

Stephen Kent Ehat
Lindon, UT

Brother Mouw and Brother Millet, true Christians both of them, set a tone of discourse so badly needed in all of society.

May the Lord bless them and all other Christian men and women who like them so diligently follow the example of the Savior and "reason together." (Isaiah 1:18.)

I think they both would agree that Nephi never said -- and Latter-day Saints never say -- we are saved by grace "because" of what we do.

Nephi said "after," not "because," and that has, for me, the sense of "notwithstanding," as in "considering what can happen in our past, His grace nonetheless saves."

cjb
Bountiful, UT

From the Bible you can 'prove anything'. This is why there are so many different religions. I listen to LDS about people being Gods, and their evidence from the New Testament and it makes perfect sense.

Then I listen to Evengelicals about there being only one God and their evidence of this from the Bible, and that too makes perfect sense.

Its the Bible that is flawed. It is not clear from the Bible what is the truth.

John Kateel
Salt Lake City, UT

As a non-Mormon living in Salt Lake City, my wife and I take walks down to Temple Square almost daily from the Capitol. We talk to the missionaries and they are the nicest people. My wife is Hindu. I am Christian. We were a married in a Hindu Temple in Malaysia and the priest did not even blink an eye about me being Christian. My whole immediate family saw the ceremony and even participated.

Now if my wife was an adherent Mormon and we wanted to get married in the Temple, I would have to convert to Mormonism, and on the wedding day my immediate family would have to wait outside on the lawn while we get married inside the Temple.

Big secretive windowless Temples that non-Mormons cannot enter make them seem insular. We don't want to participate in sacred ordinances, but the LDS Church would have 50 million plus members instead of struggling to maintain 5 million active members on roles of 14 million if they let family of LDS members observe ordinances. Nobody wants to choose between their family and their faith. Unfortunately, new converts have to make that choice, hence the stigma of converting.

megen
Truth or Consequences, NM

A bit of the contention comes from LDS wording of doctrines. The author of the article states that LDS believe they become "like God", however Gospel Principles states in chapter 47 that exalted men become gods. LDS also say they are saved by grace, but the Articles of Faith say they are saved by "by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel".

To an evangelical, this seems contradictory, possible even misleading. If the LDS want to be seen as Christian, they need to explain the contradictions in these two issues.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

Regarding God's followers-

To exclude Mormons based on doctrinal differences that are not relevant to the fundamental qualifier of the Christian classification, would be arbitrary, if not also prideful.

However, I do not believe most Evangelicals follow this, but that some simply follow the few zealous anti-Mormons. Some have also begun to accept Mormons as peaceful neighbors- acknowledging many mutual social goals and realizing there are more common beliefs than our differences. I cherish that friendship.

The primary LDS concern with others promulgating "Christian" as a form of acceptance is not wanting acceptance. We only seek God's acceptance, not other men. We only categorize ourselves as Christian to proclaim to others what we believe. To exclude Jesus Christ from that is to lie to your fellow man, for your own prideful ambition. However, nothing will hinder God's work.

The actual title-

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

And while some who haven't even read it may criticize- Every time I read from it's pages, I am inspired even more to live God's commandments and do good for others. And that, accept it or not, is most absolutely characteristic of the true word of God.

Jonathan Eddy
Payson, UT

The great litmus test on whether or not an individual (or an entire church) is "Christian" would have to be:

1. Do you recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God?
2. Do you, despite personal imperfection, try your best to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ? (Do you live the Golden Rule?)
3. Do you have a place in your heart to unconditionally love every human being regardless of their religious affiliation(even Mormons)?

If someone cannot live by these simple precepts, I'm not so sure he or she would feel comfortable in heavenly surroundings.

tyndale1
Pullman, WA

It is refreshing to see evangelicals and Mormons talking and teaching and laughing together. Afterall we both want the same thing - to follow Jesus Christ. It is this ability to stop and talk that leads to better understanding.

Like temple marriage. If you stop long enough to think about it, and to study the Bible about it, and to ponder what you read there about those who were admitted into the temple and those who were not, then the LDS viewpoint has merit. Not everyone is admitted. The temple is a place of Holiness To the Lord and those designated to keep it that way must therefore screen for worthiness as best they can. I hope you can see that.

As for being saved by grace versus being saved after all we can do, LDS theology includes both. Without the atonement of Jesus Christ nothing we can do will save us, and without conforming our lives to His and doing the things that He has asked us to do and to turn from our transgressions, then we are not allowing the atonement to rescue us. It is about doing things we say. Every epistle of Paul clearly teaches this.

twelvestringsam
Orem, UT

Great article. This helps dispell confusion about the way we should explain our own doctrine and that of evangelicals.

Thank you.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Many different versions of Christianity arose in the time immediately following Jesus' death. By the fourth century, the group that was to become the Catholic Church had won the battle between them. After that the Catholics tried to erase the memory of the competing groups to make it appear that they were tiny splinter groups of "heretics". They were, in fact, large groups that could have become the dominant form of Christianity under different circumstances.

Do a little research on the Ebionites, the Marcionites, and the followers of Valentinus to get a sense of just how divergent early Christianity actually was.

J-TX
Allen, TX

ThinksIThink; You ask, "Who has the right to determine who is "worthy" to go to the temple?" Answer: The one answering the interview questions.

John Kateel | 7:13 a.m. Nov. 28, 2011
John, you, being a Christian must remember the passage where Jesus says, "He who loves Father or Mother more than me is not worthy of me", right?

Megen; You deliberately mislead when you state: "the Articles of Faith say they are saved by "by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel"."
What it says is, "We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind MAY be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel." Or, by grace, after all we can do.

Ms Molli
Bountiful, Utah

Such drama in the first few sentences of the article! oh my gosh!

MapleDon
Springville, UT

What's interesting is that the LDS Church demands to be recognized by the rest of the Christian world as "Christians," while denying that fringe, fundamentalist LDS groups be allowed to call themselves or be referred to as "Mormons." Hypocrisy comes to mind.

Theologically, the LDS Church has a lot more in common with fundamentalist LDS than they do with mainstream Christian religions. Their basic (not all) tenets are the same, but the fundamentalists don't accept current LDS leadership. This is similar to Protestant views regarding the Catholic Church.

I suggest that the LDS Church in its quest for world acceptance (unlike their old zeal for remaining a "peculiar people") allow others to be viewed as Mormons just as they want to be viewed as Christian.

Ron Hilton
Holladay, UT

Most of the theological conflicts between Mormonism and historical Christianity seem to boil down to additional rather than fundamentally contradictory doctrine. We Mormons do not believe that "God" (specifically, our Heavenly Father and/or the resurrected Jesus) is _only_ an exalted Man, but rather a composite being. We also apply the term "God" to spirit beings (e.g. Holy Ghost, premortal Jesus aka Jehovah). We also believe that the fundamental eternal nature of any who are or can ever become gods includes "intelligence" or "priesthood" (without beginning of days and end of years). These more rudimentary definitions of "God" sound a lot more like the historical Christian view.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

ThinksIThink,
J-TX,

J-TX replied, "ThinksIThink; You ask, "Who has the right to determine who is "worthy" to go to the temple?" Answer: The one answering the interview questions."

First, to clarify- I'm going to offer a slightly more elongated reply which does not contend with his answer, but simply adds to it.

-------

To me the most accurate answer is God and second most accurate is ourselves. God chooses men to do His work. He always has and always will. He is an unchanging God. If one things it wrong for an LDS priesthood authority to deny some access to God's temple- I would reply by saying:

1) Priesthood authority today is no different than it was with Moses. God appoints men to do his work. Otherwise, our entire Bible would read very differently.

2) If one things it's simply wrong to deny access because 'everyone deserves it' - It's no different than the biblical temples we read of. Plus, everyone CAN go, conditions (commandments) deny nothing. Choosing not to adhere to such conditions is willfully denying ones self of God's temple.

3) If I am wrong, would you blame God for denying people into heaven?

Kami
Bountiful, Utah

J-TX | 8:42 a.m. Nov. 28, 2011
Allen, TX
ThinksIThink; You ask, "Who has the right to determine who is "worthy" to go to the temple?" Answer: The one answering the interview questions.

@J-Tx, I'd have to disagree with you. People can lie to get a recommend and likely do it all the time, but it is the Lord who determines their worthiness. And I do not doubt that those who lied to be able to put up a false front and attend the temple will definitely answer for that one day.

Vanka
Provo, UT

I am surprised by Robert L. Millet's table comparing LDS and Evangelical Christian beliefs.

For the topic of "Grace" he writes:

"We are saved by grace, which is freely given, the greatest of all God's gifts. But this gift must be received by faith in Christ, which is manifest in deeds of faithful discipleship and obedience to the Lord's commandments."

To put it bluntly, there are no LDS scriptures to support Millet's statement.

LDS beliefs distinguish between "salvation" and "exaltation".

Salvation is "free" to all because "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22.)

In other words, LDS doctrine is that ALL mankind will be SAVED (but not exalted) by being resurrected. That has been taught in missionary discussions for decades, and is supported by the "Scripture Mastery" scriptures learned by the youth of the Church.

There is NO LDS scripture stating that resurrection "must be received by faith in Christ" nor that it must be "manifest in... obedience to the Lord's commandments."

So why does Millet make these erroneous statements?

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