December 10, 2005

A New Controversy

There's a brand new controversy brewing in the Godblogosphere, and it started at one of those blogging awards shows that I don't get nominated for.

The Blogs of Beauty contest is intended to "honor those blogs written by women who seek to bring the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ to the blogging world." Great idea. But it ran into a problem -- how do you decide which Godbloggers are actual Christians?

The lady who ran the contest recognized this, and established as a "Statement of Faith" the following:

I believe in the Godhead of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Holy Bible. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and my only means for the forgiveness of my sins and my salvation. My salvation is found in no one but Jesus Christ.
Orthodox, yet inclusive. Very good -- the contest wasn't meant to be denominationally specific, so this, I think, is a good list of criteria. And, after all, it ain't my contest, so the organizer can run it however she wants to.

But wherever two or three are gathered, there is disagreement. And problems. Maybe that's why I've never organized my own awards (except for the Pewies and the Clewies, both of which are awarded on an extremely subjective basis). And one of the winners (the Best Humor blog), is a Mormon blog. I'm not going to get into the arguement over whether the blog should have won -- none of my business, actually, and I've only ever read her blog today (interesting, and pretty well written, actually). But the whole thing has led to many, many posts concerning what a Christian blog is, and what it isn't.

So the question arises -- is Mormonism a Christian denomination? I have to say no. I've known Mormons (I worked for one in Florida, and we had some interesting discussions about theology and faith), and while I envy their zeal and committment, I cannot in good conscience consider them Christians. Why?

1. They have an unscriptural view of salvation.

A plan of salvation was needed for the people of earth so Jesus offered a plan to the Father and Satan offered a plan to the father but Jesus' plan was accepted. In effect the Devil wanted to be the Savior of all Mankind and to "deny men their agency and to dethrone god." (Mormon Doctrine, page 193; Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, page 8.)
Companre that with 1 Peter 1:20 (ESV) -- "He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake." The Bible makes it clear that the plan of salvation was designed by God Himself before creation.
They teach a works-based Gospel.
"As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements -- 'obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.'" (Articles of Faith p. 79)
Compare this with Titus 3:5 ESV -- "he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit," and Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV -- "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
"One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation." (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 206.)

2. They have many unscriptural teachings concerning God Himself.

  • "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345)
  • God the Father had a Father, (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 476; Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19; Milton Hunter, First Council of the Seventy, Gospel through the Ages, p. 104-105.)
  • "Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones." (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 3 .
Compare this with John 4:24 ESV -- "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

3. They have an unscriptural view of Christ's birth.

"The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood - was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8: p. 115).
"Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers" (Mormon Doctrine," by Bruce McConkie, p. 547).
"Christ Not Begotten of Holy Ghost ...Christ was begotten of God. He was not born without the aid of Man, and that Man was God!" (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, 1954, 1:1 .
This is contradicted by the Gospels -- Matthew 1:18 ESV -- "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit." This also ties in with their unscriptural teaching that God is a perfect man (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 3.).

There are Mormons who do many wonderful things for others. They are morally upright people. But doing good things and being moral do not get you to Heaven. This is not Christian doctrine. We need to exercise discernment when we read blogs, knowing what we believe and knowing why we believe it, and being able to recognize false doctrine when we see it. And we need to affirm the Gospel -- the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as the sole means of our salvation.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 11:01 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 The LDS have made huge advances in getting themselves recognized as Christians. My mom's cousin is LDS, and all around nice guy and a good man. He earns his living by going around to various Mormon churches and ripping out the old angel of Moroni towers and installing steeples. The new LDS church back in Clarksburg looks just like a Southern Baptist church. Big, square brick building, with a huge white steeple and the Ionic columns out front.

Posted by: Ryan DeBarr at December 10, 2005 03:56 PM (EZnB/)

2 Hi Warren, Just saw your post. I agree we need discernment. In this case that wasn't so much the issue. The criteria for the awards, as you point out, weren't clear. Some-one nominated a Mormon bloggers blog - she didn't know who. The organiser picked the finalists and didn't realise. People who voted visited the finalists blogs - read the latest posts and voted. I don't think it was about discernment - Christian women bloggers aren't all lacking discernment. It was about being pushed for time, reading posts (which don't mention Mormonism) and voting for a lot of different blogs. In other words, in this case it was just some learning curves in awards organising and mistakes were made. I think in the same way I've had work colleagues and not known their beliefs for ages. Sometimes the hardest person for everyone to get on with in the workplace turns out to be a Christian. I worked with one colleague for a year before finding out she is a Jehovah's Witness. So it isn't always obvious and on the internet when busy people are pushed for time, and have a level of trust in the finalists presented - well a mistake happened. Somehow it got made about beliefs. But the Mormon blogger who won, when she relaised who the awards were intended for (which hadn't been clear) chose to give back the award - even though the organiser told her she could keep it. It didn't need to be so controversial. And there weren't Christian women bloggers who were confused about Mormon and Christian beliefs. As I said, it was just a learning curve about running awards. Fortunately the blogger who won has integrity and understands that. A couple of her friends reacted because some-one who was not the awards organiser put up a post - which if you were a winner would be upsetting. You would see some other blogger challenging your award win and not understand why. So they responded after seeing how upset she was - and as the post that went up talked about beliefs they responded. Once the Mormon bloggers got over the shock and realised who the awards were intended for it was resolved. I think it helps to see what actually happened. God bless, Catez

Posted by: Catez at December 16, 2005 05:29 PM (CEUV/)

3 Thanks for the update, Catez. Hadn't realized that the Mormon blogger gave back the award. And you present a VERY good point. I know when I'm voting in something like that contest (which I don't do often) I don't always look closely at the blogs that are nominated. In fact, many times I simply vote for the blog that I already read (which defeats one of the purposes of such contests -- to show people new blogs). There is a lot more to this one than meets the eye, clearly.

Posted by: Warren at December 17, 2005 10:17 AM (DPRNU)

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