Dallas Morning News Prints Misleading Story about Dr. Jeffress’ Sermon

The Dallas Morning News (DMN) ran a story last week about the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas (where I am a member). The DMN was covering a recent sermon in which our pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, used Mitt Romney’s candidacy as an occasion to make that point that Mormonism is not a Christian religion but that it is a cult. I heard Dr. Jeffress preach the sermon live, and I can confirm that there are at least two items in the DMN story that are inaccurate. The first is just factually wrong; the second is misleading.

(1) Factual Error: The lead line in the DMN article reads as follows: “A prominent Dallas minister told his congregation that if they wanted to elect a Christian to the White House, Republican Mitt Romney wasn’t qualified.” This is not true. Dr. Jeffress said nothing about electing a Christian to the White House in his sermon. Nor did he say anything about who we should vote for in the 2008 presidential election. You can listen to the relevant excerpt here. If you want the full context, you can listen to the entire sermon here: “The Power of a Positive Purpose.” The remarks about Romney begin about 19 minutes in. Jeffress made the theological point that Mormonism is not in line with orthodox Christianity, but he didn’t make the political point about who we should or should not vote for.

(2) Misleading Quote: Near the end of the DMN story, the following lines appear:

Dr. Jeffress also said Christian conservatives were compromising the values used to back presidential candidates over the past decade.

“It’s a little hypocritical for the last eight years to be talking about how important it is for us to elect a Christian president and then turn around and endorse a non-Christian,” he said. “Christian conservatives are going to have to decide whether having a Christian president is really important or not.”

Dr. Jeffress did not utter these lines in his sermon. I don’t know where the reporter got these quotes, but Dr. Jeffress did not say any such thing in the sermon. The DMN story is not clear on this point. The average reader is likely to conclude that Pastor Jeffress implied in his sermon that we should only vote for evangelical Christians for President. But that’s not at all what he said. He only said that Mormonism is not within the orthodox stream of Christianity. In fact, he prefaced his remarks with, “I’m neither for nor against Mitt Romney. He may be a good leader. . . He may make a worthy president.” My concern is that the DMN article was misleading on this point. This is not a small item to get wrong now that other media outlets are repeating the error (see below), which apparently has led the Interfaith Alliance to call into question the church’s tax exempt status!

The bottom line is this: Dr. Jeffress never expressed support for or against a Presidential candidate, but the DMN makes it sound as if he did. I’m hoping that the DMN will run a correction in the very near future.

Media Coverage:

“Dallas minister: Vote for a Christian, not Mitt Romney” – by Gromer Jeffers (Dallas Morning News)

“Hung up on Faith” – by Joan Vennochi (The Boston Globe)

VIDEO: “Dallas Pastor: Christians Can’t Support Mitt Romney” – (Fox 4, Dallas, TX)

“Major Baptist Church to Mitt Romney: ‘You’re a Cultist!'” – by Jackson Williams (Huffington Post)

“Dallas Pastor: Christians Can’t Support Mitt Romney” – (Fox 4, Dallas, TX)

“Spat over pastor’s attack on Romney’s Mormonism” – by Jeff Brady (ABC 8, Dallas, TX)

VIDEO: Preacher says LDS are “not Christian”, calls religion “a cult” – (ABC 4, Salt Lake City, Utah)

“Republican Candidates Court Evangelicals” – by Wayne Slater (Dallas Morning News)

54 Responses to Dallas Morning News Prints Misleading Story about Dr. Jeffress’ Sermon

  1. Barrett October 22, 2007 at 8:19 am #

    Denny,
    If it makes you feel any better, your pastor isn’t the only one misquoted in the article. They quoted the following from Joel Osteen:

    “I don’t think that that would affect me,” Mr. Osteen said. “I’ve heard him say that he believes Jesus is his savior, just like I do. I’ve studied it deeply, and maybe people don’t agree with me, but I like to look at a person’s value and what they stand for.”

    If you watch the Larry King video, Joel actually says “I hadn’t studied it deeply.” Just a thought, but perhaps they aren’t able to properly quote pastors at all…

    Your pastor did come off as the bad guy though. Too bad. Twenty years ago, the thought of a Christian calling Mormonism a cult would not have been so shocking.

  2. mlm October 22, 2007 at 9:08 am #

    Denny: Does Barrett’s comment give you any pause at all? You’re up in arms that your pastor was misquoted, yet you attack Pastor Osteen at will. Seems the media isn’t an accurate source, and we’d all be better off if required to do our own thorough research. You know how to defend your pastor because you were there, in service, and heard what he said with your own ears. Have you been to Osteen’s church and sat in those services?

  3. Kevin J October 22, 2007 at 9:09 am #

    The fact that people think it is shocking just shows you how successful the Mormon church has been at changing the general perspective about their cult. A lot of people really believe that they are a Christian church. Satan is a great deceiver.

  4. Kevin J October 22, 2007 at 9:18 am #

    mlm,

    You keep trying to defend Joel Osteen because “TV is not accurate”.

    I agree that the media is not accurate. However, the sermons that are aired by his church are accurate (at least to the point his church wants them to be). The media has no control over his sermons that are edited and aired by his church. If Osteen preaches a CLEAR and BIBLICAL gospel message and they choose to not include it on the TV broadcast then that shows how the TRULY believe about the gospel.

  5. mlm October 22, 2007 at 9:29 am #

    Kevin,

    How would you fare if God were as harsh with you as you are with others?

  6. Barrett October 22, 2007 at 9:31 am #

    Yeah, my comment was used in the wrong way. What I was saying was that by actually watching the words form on his lips, you could see the truth of what he was saying. While I agree that we should do the research ourselves, if we actually see someone say something, it can generally be cited.

    Undoubtably, there is a lot more said than is used. For instance, I’m sure that Michael Horton said more on 60 minutes than the little bit they aired. But they got the soundbites they needed to make him out to be the grumpy, heretic-burning, scholarly guy and Osteen to be the good, basketball playing likeable guy. That’s my honest opinion, even though I think the report was well done.

    But I agree with Kevin that if you are watching Joel’s broadcast messages and hear him say something odd, you can be sure that that is really what he said. I simply wanted to point out that not only had the reporter quoted Denny’s pastor out of context, but he had misquoted Joel altogether.

    The actual thing he said on Larry King showed that he really hadn’t studied the differences between Christianity and Mormonism, but that didn’t matter to him. But the article made it sound like this great preacher, that the whole world admires, has studied the differences, and finds them minimal. It put his studies at a higher level than this relatively unknown preacher who probably has studied the differences. And it made Denny’s pastor come across, once again, as the close-minded “fundamentalist” evangelical.

    Just my opinion. Not worth much.

  7. mlm October 22, 2007 at 9:56 am #

    I think we must all listen according to our inner bias, because to me what Osteen said was this (when on the spot asked a specific question about ROMNEY, NOT Mormonism): “I haven’t studied enough about the differences of their beliefs to make a qualified statement about his faith. All I know is that he claims Jesus as His Savior. That’s enough for me.” Osteen was saying that he would not be Romney’s judge, but that he would accept his word that Jesus was his Savior (he doesn’t know Romney personally, but was answering a question).

    I don’t get it. I don’t know Denny, but when he claims Jesus to be his savior, I believe Him. I’m not a Baptist. Should I then discredit Denny’s assertion just because I’m not affiliated with his denomination?

    Don’t get me wrong. I have studied different religions (both as part of my Philosophy degree and in Bible school as part of my Christology class) and I know that Mormonism isn’t a denomination of Christianity, but rather it’s own movement. However, just as there are Catholic Christians and Jewish Christians, which could seem to be an oxymoron, is it not possible that a man who was raised Mormon has come to accept Jesus as his Savior?

    The bottom line is you don’t know Romney. You don’t know Osteen. Osteen was being the better of us, I believe, and choosing to believe a man’s statement of faith in Christ.

    There is one Lawgiver and one Judge. You aren’t Him and neither am I.

  8. Kevin J October 22, 2007 at 10:48 am #

    mlm,

    If one was a true believer in the Biblical Jesus they would not claim to Mormon.

    As far as harsh goes, I think Jesus was more harsh than I ever will be. Or how about one of the Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah. He was thrown into prison for his harshness. Does being truthfully harsh have to be a sin?

  9. David October 22, 2007 at 11:05 am #

    Just a few summarized comments from a Mormon leader on the topic of Christ and the Mormon view of what a Christian is.

    The address by LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland focuses on the concept of the Trinity, and why the Mormon view of the Godhead/Trinity is more authentically biblical than the 3rd, 4th and 5th century Nicene & Athanasian creedal notion. These creeds stem from a hellenistic formulation of heaven being the diametric opposite of anything earthly. A couple of points that are worth mentioning:

    1) The highly respected Harper’s Bible Dictionary states that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament].” If the doctrine is not found in the Bible, then why is it necessary to believe it in order to be a Christian?”

    2) 1st, 2nd, 3rd century Christians are still widely called “Christians” even though they did not believe the formal definition of the Godhead as defined in the 4th century by Christian theologians. Holland asks rhetorically, “If one says Mormons are not Christians because we do not hold a fourth- or fifth-century view of the Godhead, then what of those first Christian Saints, many of whom were eyewitnesses of the living Christ, who did not hold such a view either?”

    3) Because Christ himself was fully God while he had a body, possessing a body in no way diminishes God. The Mormon belief that Christ and God the Father have bodies is also not a disqualifier from Mormons being called “Christian” because Christ had a body while on earth, and also has a body now as a resurrected being. Holland argues that if Christ was “fully God” while on earth and “fully God” after his resurrection as all Christians believe, then why would the Mormon view of an embodied God be considered “non-Christian” or detrimental to the greatness of God?

    Mormons merely request that those who are sincere about their faith would follow the direction of the Apostle James (1:5) and ask God directly regarding wisdom and truth. Nothing beats going directly to the sourse of all truth.

  10. Daniel October 22, 2007 at 11:35 am #

    I attended Dr. Jeffress’ church in Wichita Falls while he was here. Unfortunately, I was serving overseas during his previous major controversy concerning two pro-homosexual children’s library books which gained national attention. Unfortunately, things did not turn out well for his cause.

    I think we need more pastors like Jeffress who are willing to be culturally engaged. But I think driven pastors like Jeffress needs church staff that are well-trained in key disciplines to support him with the intellectual resources necessary to put out a Biblically informed rock-solid message.

  11. Paul October 22, 2007 at 11:41 am #

    “Does being truthfully harsh have to be a sin?”

  12. Paul October 22, 2007 at 11:46 am #

    “Does being truthfully harsh have to be a sin?”

    I think not…

  13. Kevin J October 22, 2007 at 12:14 pm #

    David,

    Are you asking for comment? Do you believe in those quotes?

  14. Brian L. October 22, 2007 at 3:14 pm #

    Back on topic…

    Thanks for clearing this up, Denny.

  15. Andrew October 22, 2007 at 5:08 pm #

    I think Jeffress was mistaken in mentioning Romney’s name from the pulpit in the first place. Would that qualify for public liable?

  16. Kevin J October 22, 2007 at 6:01 pm #

    I think it would be better to say “Mormonism is not Christian” and give the reasons why. Then people could put 2 and 2 together – maybe. 🙂

  17. Yvette October 22, 2007 at 6:22 pm #

    Andrew,

    I think it is libel. I think if it is spoken it is slander, and it must be false. Here is the definition for libel from Answers.com:

    n.

    1.
    1. A false publication, as in writing, print, signs, or pictures, that damages a person’s reputation.
    2. The act of presenting such material to the public.
    2. The written claims presented by a plaintiff in an action at admiralty law or to an ecclesiastical court.

    Here is the definition of slander from thefreedictionary.com:

    1. Law Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person’s reputation.
    2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

  18. Yvette October 22, 2007 at 6:23 pm #

    Andrew,

    I’m sorry, were were speaking of Jeffress or the paper engaging in libel?

  19. Yvette October 22, 2007 at 6:34 pm #

    Denny,

    Have you tried contacting the writer of the article to find out where he got that quote? Have you expressed your concerns to him?

  20. j razz October 22, 2007 at 10:21 pm #

    I have spent years studying mormonism and engaging mormons concerning their theology and doctrines. Like in Christian circles, most don’t know why they believe what they believe save for tradition and topical sermons that deal more with application than the meat of scripture.

    If you would like to read my exit paper from university on Mormonism: Questions and Conflicts which deals with internal doctrinal conflicts and contradictions (not paradoxes, but contradictions), you can read it here in pdf format. David, I encourage you to read it.

    Mormonism: Questions and Conflicts

    j razz

  21. Carlito October 23, 2007 at 9:54 am #

    j razz – didn’t get to read the whole paper, but very well-done and informative! I’ll try to read all the way thru when I get a chance…

    P.S. Where exactly is Jackson? Are you still there? I live in Knoxville and love it. Lived here my whole life except for college (Johnson City). I know a guy who played football for Union U, I think…

  22. j razz October 23, 2007 at 10:27 am #

    Thanks. Jackson is between Memphis and Nashville. It has a population of around 140,000 or so.

    I tried to right it as unbiased as I could and only used 1 hand references (save for 1) in dealing with the topic at hand. I started compiling the beginnings of the paper well before I ever thought about using it for an exit paper. I used to spend a lot of time talking with Mormons and interacting with them concerning their religion (they would witness to me). I thought that we should not only be able to exhort in sound doctrine but also be able to refute that which is not, so I began to engage the missionaries. That led to the exit paper taking the form it is in. Of course there are still grammatical errors, but the references are all correct and the context was studied in depth so I am sure that I am not taking them out of context.

    Hopefully it will help you and others to engage Mormonism.

    j razz

  23. Carlito October 23, 2007 at 10:41 am #

    That’s a good approach, and it sounds like you’ve got quite a bit of info and experience on the subject.

    Man, I’m such an idiot. Of course I know where Jackson is. For some reason, the name didn’t click, and I think I was getting it confused with Jamestown (which I believe is somewhere in East TN)..

    P.S. have you read Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven”? I’d be curious to know what you thought about it..

  24. j razz October 23, 2007 at 11:30 am #

    I have not, but I will look for it. I will check out the synopsis on Amazon.

    j razz

  25. MatthewS October 23, 2007 at 12:00 pm #

    Kevin #16, I agree.

    I also agree that the quotes seem unfair.

    One could get the impression that Dr. Jeffress was looking for the conflict. He prefaced his remarks by saying something like, “I am going to get in trouble for this but…” What trouble? Trouble for preaching the cross, or trouble for specifically calling out Romney during a campaign, from a tax-sheltered pulpit?

  26. Bryan L October 23, 2007 at 12:59 pm #

    Probably the 2nd thing you mentioned Matthew.

    Which makes me wonder sometimes why churches accept the tax free status (or whatever it is) if it will in any way keep them from being a prophetic voice and speaking truth.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  27. Kevin J October 23, 2007 at 2:53 pm #

    Bryan L,

    I agree. I believe that God will eventually remove the tax shelter so the fear of paying taxes is removed and the freedom to tell the truth is realized.

    Should we really fear paying taxes anyway? Is God’s arm too short to help truth-preaching churches be able to pay taxes?

  28. Tink October 23, 2007 at 3:01 pm #

    J Razz,

    I read your essay. I particularly liked the depth and thoroughness of your documentation, obviously a valiant effort. As to the content of the piece, however, I believe you are capable of much better.

    Before you begin to refute any doctrine or idea, it is important to first present it fairly and accurately. If you do, and your counter argument adequately refutes it, then you have done the Christian world great service. If you don’t, however, then your argument is little more than propaganda based on fallacious “strawman” argument.

    I am sorry to say that most of your arguments are afflicted with strawman logic, and do not accurately reflect Mormon doctrine. There is, for example, no truth in your statement that “Mormons don’t accept the Bible to be true,” yet your subsequent argument rests on that statement. The truth is that Mormons “…believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.” Thus, from a logic standpoint, because your premise is false, your conclusion is weak and may be false as well.

    In another instance, you draw the conclusion that, based on the Mormon belief that Jesus is the literal Son of God, Mormons believe God had sexual intercourse with Mary. Not so. There is nothing in Mormon doctrine which would contradict the notion of a spiritual, or in your word “metaphysical” miraculous event wrought by God through the Holy Ghost. Mormons believe as you do that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus.

    Your use of the word “infallible,” in reference to Mormon prophets is inappropriate. The concept of infallibility of God’s prophets is not biblical, and definitely not a Mormon claim or belief. God has always used fallible, imperfect men to accomplish His ends, and convey His will to His children. Your claim, therefore, that Mormon church leaders cannot be prophets because they are fallible, doesn’t work.

    All in all, if I were on your thesis review board, I would ask for some significant rework before I could sign off on this one. Nevertheless, thank you for sharing it.

  29. Ken October 23, 2007 at 3:09 pm #

    Historically the tax exemption was intended as an encouragement to the establishment of local churches. They used to be seen as a boon to the community. Such is increasingly no longer the case–zoning commissions, as one example, seem to be in the business of putting up more roadblocks for churches trying to get started. They’ve even come down on home churches, citing them for violation of residential zoning.

    On the other hand, the power to tax is the power to destroy. A hostile government could easily see its way to levying excessive taxes as a means of rooting out churches, taking over church-owned lands, etc. Wouldn’t be the first time a government confiscated church property to suit its own purposes.

  30. j razz October 23, 2007 at 3:58 pm #

    I have to split this up as it will not let me post in totality.

    Tink,

    Thanks for your critique. I appreciate the fact that you read through it. I am a bit confused about some of the critiques you draw seeing how I quote directly from LDS sources. I didn’t mean to get off topic here but I will post this and stop unless Denny gives the okay.

    You said: There is, for example, no truth in your statement that “Mormons don’t accept the Bible to be true,” yet your subsequent argument rests on that statement.

    I quoted Orsan Pratt at length but specifically here: “We all know that but a few of the inspired writings have descended to
    our times, which few quote the names of some twenty other books which are lost and it is
    quite certain that there were many other inspired books that even the names have not
    reached us. What few have come down to our day, have been mutilated, changed and
    corrupted, in such a shameful manner that no two manuscripts agree.”40 He continues
    still, “…and who, in his right mind, could, for one moment, suppose the Bible in its
    present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible
    has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?
    And the Book of Mormon says this: Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. …because of the many plain and
    precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, and exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.”
    I could go on. These are first hand sources saying what you say Mormonism does not agree with. If they don’t, they disagree with thier own inspired writings, which is the point of the essay. This quote The truth is that Mormons “…believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.” further shows that the validity of the previous point. If Orson Pratt (among others) and the Book of Mormon hold the positions they do, how can one sitting under their teaching come to the conclusion that anything in the Bible is trustworthy? That is why personal revelation is so important in LDS circles. I don’t see this as a strawman. Maybe I am missing what you are saying.

    Continued…

  31. j razz October 23, 2007 at 4:01 pm #

    …You said, Your use of the word “infallible,” in reference to Mormon prophets is inappropriate. The concept of infallibility of God’s prophets is not biblical, and definitely not a Mormon claim or belief.

    Understood it is not biblical, but the point was to challenge the Mormon doctrine concerning this belief which is: When the acting President speaks to his people of the church, his words are seen as authoritative and directly from God because of the fact that he is seen as a prophet, a seer, and a revelator to the people. and can be found here: Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism Vol.3, (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992), 1170.

    Biblically speaking though, we do agree (I hope) that scripture is infallible due to the Sovereignty of God and His providence. Therefore, scripture would not be found to contradict itself. In the same way, neither would prophets. They would be in parallel with eachother throughout the biblical timeline. In LDS writings, this just isn’t so.

    Maybe I missed what you were saying Tink, but I do appreciate you being willing to say it. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. I appreciate that. Have a good evening.

    j razz

  32. Tink October 23, 2007 at 7:41 pm #

    J Razz,

    Thank you for your response. I had hoped you would.
    I have no objection to the quotes you have used. They are consistent with Mormon doctrine. My objection concerns the conclusion you have drawn from them that Mormons reject the Bible. That is simply not the case. We merely reject the notion that it is inerrant and the totality of God’s word to mankind. The number of books mentioned but not included in the Bible, the myriad different translations, and the vast number of creeds, philosophies, and beliefs emanating from different Bible readings and interpretations are evidence in support of the Mormon belief. Additional scripture such as The Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants exist not as a rejection or replacement of the Bible or any of its truths, but rather in support of the Bible, and they restore clarity and meaning to truths that have been lost throughout the past 20 centuries by uninspired men. That, to Mormons, is not a rejection of the Bible, as you suggest in your essay, but is rather a richer, more complete understanding of it.

    Your argument that Mormon leaders cannot be prophets because their directives have changed over time, (polygamy and black priesthood holders), is difficult for Mormons to accept, or even understand. For Mormons, it is precisely those changes which argues the need for a living prophet, as anciently. If we accept the notion that God’s will never changes, and that anything different is, by definition wrong, then we would have to ignore Paul and revert to the Law of Moses. Similarly, Abraham would have been compelled to sacrifice Isaac despite an angel’s intervention. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but his direction and instruction to us changes, as it always has.

  33. Bryan L October 23, 2007 at 7:56 pm #

    Tink,

    I was wondering what you would consider to be key doctrines or beliefs at which Mormons and Christians part ways?

    Also, I understand that the Mormon church continues to change or reform (so I’ve heard). Do you believe they will ever change enough to be accepted in as Christians?

    And lastly, do you foresee any other Mormon doctrines or beliefs possibly being discarded down the road? What I mean is are there any doctrines that y’all hold to kind of loosely, that there is debate over and that some even reject that you could see the wider Mormon church eventually doing away with?

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  34. Jonathan Moorhead October 23, 2007 at 9:36 pm #

    I attended the first service and heard nothing of that sort either. In fact, he said that he would not enter into politics, but only wanted to make a theological statement. The point, I thought, was to state that there was a vast difference between Mormonism and evangelical Christianity. He was threatened with a lawsuit by some Mormon lawyer, but he was only saying what Joseph Smith has said (that all Christian denominations are an abomination, hence the vast difference). How can you sue a man that agrees with your own prophet?

  35. Tink October 24, 2007 at 12:47 am #

    Bryan,
    Thank you for your interest and questions.

    There is one basic difference between Mormon doctrine and other Christian faiths. That is the belief that God speaks to prophets today as He did in ancient times. If Mormons didn’t believe it, their church would be no different than any other Christian denomination. If Christians of other faiths accepted it, then they would have nothing else to oppose.

    Mormons believe that the “rock” Jesus told Peter he would build his church on was not Peter himself, as some believe, but rather the revelation Peter had received which allowed him to declare without hesitation that Jesus is the Christ.

    Regarding whether Mormons will ever be accepted as Christians by Christians of other faiths, I believe the only possibility for that is the degree to which the exclusionary definition of Christianity is changed. As long as some insist that, to be a Christian, you must accept the non-biblical product of a committee meeting, the Nicene creed, or declare that the Bible is the sum total of God’s word, I am sure that Mormons will continue to be excluded, because their rejection of those doctrines will never change. Since Mormons believe deeply in Jesus Christ, and are committed to living by and declaring His gospel to the world, they believe they already are Christians, right now, today. In fact, they view the assertion by others that they are not Christian as extreme acts of either ignorance or arrogance.

    As to the possibility that some doctrines might change over time, I believe you may have a mistaken notion of what “change” means in the Mormon church. In the past twenty years, the most notable changes I have seen have had to do with the size and number of temples around the world, the publication of a better annotated set of scriptures, and a change in the way missionaries teach others the gospel. The most visible changes in the Church have generally had little to do with doctrine, but have been more about policies or practices, such as the practice of polygamy and the ordination of black men into the priesthood.
    For something we might “hold to kind of loosely” as you said, I think you’d have to say that a lot of Mormons interpret the prohibition against caffeinated drinks to exclude soft drinks, since it refers only to hot drinks. That’s about as wild as it gets because the doctrines and teachings of the church are pretty straightforward. They are what they are, and it’s up to us to decide whether we’re going to live by them or not. I don’t think God pays attention to popularity polls and, therefore, I don’t think his prophets ever will either.

  36. Bryan L October 24, 2007 at 3:21 pm #

    Thanks Tink.

    I was wondering though what makes your idea of revelation and authority any different from a Catholic position on divine revelation and authority? They sound kind of similar.

    Also, do you believe it’s possible for some like Joseph Smith to have gotten anything wrong? Do Mormons ever say he was mistaken on anything?

    BTW what do you think of Robert Millet? I found his discussion with Gerald McDermott on Mormonism and Evangelicalism to be fascinating and enlightening. I was wondering though how he was regarded within the Mormon community.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  37. Tink October 25, 2007 at 1:08 pm #

    Bryan,

    I’m having a bit of trouble getting comments to post. I hope this one works.

    What do I think of Robert Millet?
    I think he’s terrific. He’s a talented, knowledgeable teacher and a peacemaker to boot. Definitely a keeper.

    I think there are some similarities between Mormon and Catholic notions of revelation and authority. The primary issue is whether or not priesthood authority was maintained from Peter to Pope Benedict today. Mormons believe that after the martyrdom of the early apostles, that line of authority was broken and, as a result, the church experienced the falling away which Paul prophesied would happen before Christ’s return. Several hundred years later, Constantine brought the various competing factions of the church together, but by then it was too late. The priesthood power had been lost and revelations from God to his prophets ceased.

    What followed was a long dark period in which the church became more a political and military entity than a spiritual one. Eventually, the reformers, (inspired men of God, IMO), tried valiantly to reform the church, and succeeded in setting the stage for the full restoration, but they couldn’t do it all. For them, it was like trying to graft a green branch into a dead tree. John Wesley’s brother Charles acknowledged the problem when he wrote:
    “How easily are bishops made
    By man or woman’s whim:
    Wesley his hands on Coke hath laid,
    But who laid hands on him?”

    Mormons believe the restoration of priesthood power was made when Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph Smith and conferred the priesthood on him, the same priesthood which was conferred on them by Jesus Christ. Today, every Mormon man can trace his priesthood to that event.
    That’s a long answer to a short question. I hope it properly addressed what you wanted to know.

    As to whether Joseph Smith ever did anything wrong, the short answer is: I don’t really know. There’s a lot of both good and bad that’s been said about him and I think I’ve read or heard most of it. For me, the whole issue is reduced to one question: Is the Book of Mormon true or not? In the New Testament, we’re warned that in the last days there would be false prophets. It doesn’t say that we should reject them all, but rather, “by their fruits ye shall know them.” The Book of Mormon is the watermelon-sized fruit of Joseph Smith. If it’s true, then there would be no doubt that he was a prophet and, thus, anything negative about him would have to be untrue or irrelevant; if it’s not true, then I don’t think I’d need any further proof that he was a fraud.

    Everything in my experience, both spiritually and intellectually, points to the Book of Mormon being true. There have been times in my life when I honestly wished it wasn’t, because of the tremendous burden of responsibility it brings with it to act appropriately based on that knowledge. Believe me, it would be sooo much easier to say it’s false, but I can’t. The more I read it, the more I see that it is in perfect accord with everything I know to be right and good. It’s true. So I have to conclude that Joseph Smith was precisely what he said he was.

    Thanks again for posing such excellent questions. I’d love to get you in my adult Sunday School class sometime. I’m sure your participation would generate some good learning opportunities for everyone.

  38. Kevin J October 25, 2007 at 3:50 pm #

    3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

  39. Bryan L October 25, 2007 at 9:24 pm #

    Thanks for the answers Tink. Interesting stuff. I’ll be honest I have no interest whatsoever in becoming a Mormon or even exploring it as an option. I just want to make sure that what I believe about it is true. I don’t want to ever argue against a straw man or something that Mormons don’t hold to. I would like to see the Mormon church one day accepted into the Church but I know there will have to be some real changes for that to happen and a key to that happening is to make sure we are identifying the real disagreements.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  40. Tink October 26, 2007 at 1:26 pm #

    Bryan,

    I understand your satisfaction with where you are and respect that. I also think your desire to get the straight dope about Mormons is admirable. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss it with you. Whether it was of value to you or not, it certainly gave my spirits a boost.

    Here’s a question that might bring the topic around full-circle, or at least point it back in the same general direction: For some reason, I’ve always assumed that as the world became more wicked before the Second Coming of Christ, the middle-ground between good and evil would essentially disappear, and the two sides would polarize. Since I have always assumed that those of other Christian faiths were essentially “on our side” so to speak, it has been quite confusing and a little frustrating to learn of the strong opposition and name calling of late by people I always assumed shared a love of God, and maintained the same core values. (I wish someone could explain the definition of “cult” and how it differs from Christ’s early church.)

  41. Kevin J October 26, 2007 at 3:50 pm #

    Tink,

    How do you know for sure there will be a 2nd coming of Christ?

  42. j razz October 26, 2007 at 6:20 pm #

    Tink,

    I think in the case of the LDS church and Christendom, the difference is glaring regarding who we see as the person of Jesus and who we as God the Father.

    Mormons hold Jesus was the spirit child of God and brother to Satan. His plan was better than that of Satan when it came to saving humanity.

    Christianity holds that Jesus is God and that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are all 1 God in three persons. Jesus is of a different essence and nature than angels (such as Satan).

    Mormons hold that God the Father is from an endless lineage of Gods begetting Gods. “God once was what we are” as one of your prophets has stated. Yet another claims that God was Adam. God the Father lived on a planet like we do today and he obeyed his God which in turn allowed him to become a God and so goes the cycle. What is more, God the Father has wives in heaven and their purpose is to produce children to populate the planet (spirit children).

    Christendom holds that God the Father was without begining. He has no wives and is complete in Himself. There was none that came before Him. There will be no gods that come after Him.

    Those are just a few differences. Tink, thanks for being so polite and cordial in your remarks. Much appreciated. That has not always been my experience.

    Have a good weekend all.

    j razz

  43. Bryan L October 26, 2007 at 7:08 pm #

    Tink, would you agree with J Razz in his descriptions of what Mormons believe? If so those are some differences that seem more serious than just a disagreement in the inspiration and authority of the Bible or whether it is all the revelation God has given us. If that is the case then I think it would be understandable why there is strong opposition from Christians and why they don’t believe Mormons are on the same side. It would sound like we were indeed worshiping two different God’s and beyond just a minor point of disagreement in the nature or attributes of God.

    BTW I think in the beginning Christianity was seen as a sect of Judaism and probably shortly after became viewed within “conservative” Judaism somewhat like cults are viewed today. Even if we grant that I don’t know how that helps Mormons become accepted by Christians since Christians were never accepted by Jews as a valid expression of Judaism.

    Thanks for the conversation. Have a good one.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  44. j razz October 26, 2007 at 9:01 pm #

    I had to go back through my sources to find this but I thought I would post it. It is a pro LDS document concerning Jesus and Satan being brothers and also discusses us being eternal spirits (based on modern revelation). It is written by Michael Hickenbotham.

    Feel free to read it here.

    j razz

  45. jeff miller October 28, 2007 at 12:11 am #

    Hey Tink, Denny, Bryan, J Razz, and others,

    I am fascinated by the way Mormonism has borrowed/paralleled Roman Catholicism’s organizational authority claims:”priesthood power” and “line of authority” would not really make pre-Catholicism sense. I wonder what any of you might think of what is said about presumptuous-authority claims which offer men something that is actually contrary to Christ’s teaching: entitlement to righteousness. In this article I assume a family likeness between Roman Catholicism and Mormanism. http://www.personaldiscipleship.blogspot.com

  46. whirylygig October 28, 2007 at 10:54 pm #

    I find it rather odd that someone could hide behind such arrogant views of what they believe is “Christianity” and have such sharp, offensive remarks about another’s beliefs in Christ.

    What do you think Jesus would do? I have heard and read so many “un-Christ-like” comments by so-called respected leaders of other churchs that often wonder how it is those people actually feel accepted by Christ. Christ-like behavior is, to me, quite unlike what I see here, in Dallas, and other areas holding these beliefs.

    I think if Jesus Christ were here now, he would be shocked at some of the monstrous outlandish churchs that are around and many still being built. I think he would be upset with the way money was spent and how it could have benefited so many more people in need. I also find it rather odd that you hear so much un-Christ-like commentary from others towards LDS members, while you almost literally never hear a disparaging word about others and their beliefs.

    And as far as being a cult, and some of the other remarks. . . you have no idea whatsoever. You have relied on false teachings. Many of the churches I see around here look like operations of priestcraft to me. Talk about scary!

  47. Tink October 29, 2007 at 5:37 pm #

    All,
    Looks like I missed out on a busy weekend. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I want you to know it is a joy for me to be able to discuss these subjects with you. Thank you.

    Kevin,
    I’m not sure of the purpose or point behind your question, but Mormons believe the Second Coming of Christ was prophesied by all of God’s prophets, as well as by Christ himself, since his earthly life, and some even before His birth. In addition, the Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants are replete with promises that Christ will return again in glory. If there’s more you want me to know from your question, please let me know.

    J Razz,
    I hope this doesn’t come across as too crass, but I think the way in which you discuss different Mormon doctrines is a lot like the way in which grade school wiseacres discuss the facts of life. In such cases, they often get the basic facts right, but the purpose, beauty, and goodness are completely missing. Similarly, I feel much like the parent who has to explain to a son or daughter that what they’ve been told on the playground isn’t gross, but when understood in context, is really one of the most beautiful experiences in life.

    I wrote earlier that the primary difference between Mormons and other Christians is that Mormons believe God speaks to prophets today, as he did earlier. Mormons believe that God has had a lot to say to his prophets in the past 177 years, and that He has, thankfully, provided a significant level of understanding regarding the nature and relationship of God and mankind, the purpose of life, and God’s eternal plan for us. Since Christians of other faiths limit God’s word to what is in the Bible, and reject the notion that God has something specific to say to modern mankind, they don’t have the benefit of that additional knowledge. In fact, when they hear about it they often see it as “gross”. The reality, however, is that it is quite beautiful to know:
    1. That “Our Father in Heaven” really is the father of our spirits.
    2. That Jesus Christ REALLY is the firstborn, (and only begotten in the flesh) of the Father, and not just figuratively
    3. That when Jesus Christ prayed, he wasn’t talking to himself, he was talking to the Father, the same being whose voice was heard at Christ’s baptism, and the same one who appeared next to Christ in Stephen’s vision.
    4. That there is only ONE God with whom we have to concern ourselves. We have ONE God. ONE only. One God for us, that’s all. Other worlds, beings, and gods are irrelevant to the ONE God we have and worship. ONE. Three spirits, two bodies – ONE God.
    5. That there is a wise purpose to this earthly life, and painful experience has useful meaning. (God isn’t just a mean kid with a magnifying glass.)
    6. That God loves us so much, He wants us to have EVERYTHING He has, and will happily provide it if we prove ourselves worthy by accepting his grace.
    7. That the concept of family is an eternal one, not just a convenient social structure on earth. (In a very real sense, we have children in order to get a sense of what God has to deal with on a much larger scale. Kind of a live-action eternity simulation!)

    Bottom line, I don’t think Mormons and Christians of other faiths believe in different Gods, Mormons just feel they have a little more information about Him, that’s all.

    Bryan,
    The question about the definition of “Cult” and how it compares to Christ’s early church was really an effort to demonstrate that the word doesn’t mean anything. Because Christianity and even Islam, can also be considered “cults” of Judaism, it really is of no value in describing the Mormon church, except by those who might want to capitalize on the word’s negative connotation. Such usage would, I believe, do a propagandist proud, but it doesn’t speak well of those who use it against those with whom they disagree.

    Jeff,
    I read your linked post, several times, and I am still not sure what I read. Any chance you could clarify it for me? I even tried looking several words up. “Varigated demoninationalism” I think means “different beliefs” right?

    Whirlygig,
    I love your zeal, brother, but you might want to think about toning it down a titch.
    (Check 3 Nephi 11:29)

    Tink

  48. j razz October 29, 2007 at 7:55 pm #

    …they often get the basic facts right, but the purpose, beauty, and goodness are completely missing.

    Tink,

    We can dress up Mormon doctrine and make it look pretty, but when you strip all those things away that are used to dress it up, it is what it is. The same holds true for Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. doctrines as well.

    Now going on to your numbered points:

    1. This is not limited to Mormon Doctrine. Christians hold That God is sovereign over all things (including spirits). There is no new prophesy or modern revelation needed to show this.

    2. Jesus is the firstborn and often throughout the gospel scriptures he was held as a blasphemer by the Jews. Not because he was making claims to be “fathered” by God but b/c his claims made him equal with God.

    3. Christians do not believe that Jesus was praying to Himself. Some people may believe that, but not protestant Christianity or Catholicism. This falls in line with Modalism, not the doctrine of the Trinity. Please don’t misconstrue this.

    4. I have a couple of questions concerning this. 1. Why is the Mormon Jesus not ruling over his own planet and people as a God- is he exempt from god hood? 2. When you become your own God, if you live up the the requirements of godhood, what responsibilities do you have to your God? Regardless though, it is in stark contrast to Christianity in that there are no other gods. Not we don’t have anything to do with them, they just don’t exist. There is but one God according to Christian doctrine. This is not the case with Mormon doctrine.

    5. Christianity would not hold this view of God and no knew revelation is needed to prove such a thing false.

    6. This is a key difference. We do not have to prove ourselves worthy, Christ already did that on our behalf. He died for us- the righteous for the unrighteous. He died not only for our sins that we commit but also for the imputed sin of Adam. He did what we could never do and accomplished it to please the Father, walk in obedience unto Him and to bring many sons to glory. If we tried to prove ourselves worthy, it would be a slap in the face to the work of Christ on the cross. We cannot prove ourselves worthy as we are dead in our sins. Key difference in Mormonism and Christianity.

    7. Paul says that this mystery is great but he is speaking in reference to Christ and the Church. Marriage is symbolic of Christ’s relationship with His Church. This is a great way to live out the gospel- through our marriages. As for children, they are a blessing from the Lord and we have responsibility there in raising them up in the way they should go. But according to scripture, there will be no gods beside the LORD. If we think we can become like Him then we believe the lie that was told to Adam in the garden by the serpent. So, if there are no other gods beside the one true God, then how can it be a live action eternity simulation? Granted, we are working off of two world views. I believe scripture to be inerrant and you do not. I believe scripture to be whole in itself as I believe God to be sovereign and you hold that there is modern revelation and modern prophets to utter them to “shed light on” what has been corrupted and to divulge new teachings. So, I understand how you can come to the conclusion that you do (I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but what I stated above is Mormon teaching and I would assume you hold to it).

    As per your bottom line, how does more information equate to changing the very doctrines that scripture teaches? Again, granted we are working from different beliefs regarding scripture and its definition, but surely you can see the problem here. If our beliefs, which are based on Biblical scripture, gives us a certain understanding of God, creation, the afterlife, sin, the person of Jesus, the person of Satan, God’s attributes (such as omnipotence), etc. and your beliefs based on expanded scripture gives you completely different foundational beliefs, how is it then that we can believe in the same God?

    j razz

  49. Tink October 29, 2007 at 10:36 pm #

    J razz,
    Please forgive me. Instead of explaining Mormon doctrine, it seems I have aroused a spirit of contention. I hope you know that was not my intent. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s better to disengage than to continue this line of discussion. Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to share some of what I believe.

  50. j razz October 29, 2007 at 11:28 pm #

    Tink,

    I apologize if I came across as brash- I have no contention with you nor was I even evoked to any such emotion. I was simply asking questions and responding to the items you posted. Sorry it came across that way (the downside to blogs, etc. is that you cannot read one’s emotions). So, if you wish to continue I will be happy to reciprocate.

    j razz

  51. jeff miller October 30, 2007 at 1:56 am #

    Tink,
    What I described as the splintering of protestantism into a more “variegated denominationalism” was meant to note the development of more and more distinct organizations which exercise authority over local churches.

    Every now and then I communicate successfully with myself and assume others get it also. sorry.

    Any more help would be appreciated.

    Jeff

  52. Tink October 30, 2007 at 12:22 pm #

    J Razz,

    Thank you for your kind words and reassurance. I was worried that our healthy discussion had degraded into something less. I love the free exchange of ideas, yet despise contention, and may, therefore, be a bit sensitive to negative indications.

    One of the reasons I have posted on this blog is to identify areas of common ground between Mormon and other Christian beliefs. Certainly there are differences, and some are quite significant. Nevertheless, before such differences can be fairly discussed, I believe it is essential to identify areas in which we can agree. Without that foundation, discussions based solely on differences are empty argument, sophistry, useless to anyone. With it, we have the basis for a genuine exchange in which everyone can benefit.
    Can we agree that finding areas of common ground is a mutual goal?

    Tink

  53. j razz October 30, 2007 at 8:32 pm #

    Can we agree that finding areas of common ground is a mutual goal?

    Tink,

    I believe that scripture tells us both that we have a great deal of responsibility in not causing others to stumble. I want to be real careful about what I regard as equivialent concerning Christianity and Mormonism (I think you would too). I do not wish to stand before God one day and give an account for such things.

    …I believe it is essential to identify areas in which we can agree. Without that foundation, discussions based solely on differences are empty argument, sophistry, useless to anyone.

    I don’t know that I would agree. I believe we can learn much from our differences and from those differences people can make an informed decision concerning their thoughts on the matter. John Owen did not spend time discussing the similarities of Belgic Semi-Pelagianism with that of Calvinism nor did the accounts of the Jews in the Pentateuch deal with the simularities of the Cannaanites- God focused on the differences. No one ever had to make a choice or ponder long on simularities, it is the differences that beg a decision; a conclusion.

    Maybe I am missing what you are saying Tink. If I am can you state it another way or give some examples of the simularities? Thanks for your dialogue. Have a good night.

    j razz

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Volunteer Voters » Christians In Politics - October 23, 2007

    […] A blogger in Texas discusses what he calls a misleading article in the Dallas Morning News regarding a pastor’s admonition that a vote for Mitt Romney is not a vote for a Christian: The Dallas Morning News (DMN) ran a story last week about the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas (where I am a member). The DMN was covering a recent sermon in which our pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, used Mitt Romney’s candidacy as an occasion to make that point that Mormonism is not a Christian religion but that it is a cult. I heard Dr. Jeffress preach the sermon live, and I can confirm that there are at least two items in the DMN story that are inaccurate. The first is just factually wrong; the second is misleading. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

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