I think that if the Democratic party were still the party of JFK, I may be a Democrat. But, alas, they are far from it. Here is a great video of JFK’s words in Salt Lake City. How is that our country has seemingly become less religiously tolerant over the last 50 years? I have my suspicions, but I will keep those to myself for now, or perhaps we are more tolerant and I am mistaken. Nevertheless, enjoy the JFK video.
Monthly Archives: December 2007
One of the biggest claims that protestant Christians (including evangelicals) make about Mormons, is that they are not Christian. I will agree that we Mormons are not Christian according to the evangelical/protestant definition of Christian, but I have continually claimed that they have no more legitimacy in claiming what defines Christianity than Mormons, Catholics, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, like most Mormons, this claim that we are not Christian bothers me at a personal level as Jesus Christ is the cornerstone and anchor of my faith.
Today being the Sabbath, I took some extra time to read talks given by LDS General Authorities in the October 2007 General Conference of the Church. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the Church’s Apostles, spoke on the subject of Mormonism and Christianity and I fell compelled to share his words with you today. Although part of my motivation for this is to help people better understand what Mormons believe about Christ, my primary motivation is to help all Christians better understand their faith and Christian history and the origins of many Catholic and Protestant beliefs.
Title: The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent
As Elder Ballard noted earlier in this session, various crosscurrents of our times have brought increasing public attention to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord told the ancients this latter-day work would be “a marvellous work and a wonder,”1 and it is. But even as we invite one and all to examine closely the marvel of it, there is one thing we would not like anyone to wonder about—that is whether or not we are “Christians.”
By and large any controversy in this matter has swirled around two doctrinal issues—our view of the Godhead and our belief in the principle of continuing revelation leading to an open scriptural canon. In addressing this we do not need to be apologists for our faith, but we would like not to be misunderstood. So with a desire to increase understanding and unequivocally declare our Christianity, I speak today on the first of those two doctrinal issues just mentioned.
Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”2 We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true.
Indeed no less a source than the stalwart Harper’s Bible Dictionary records 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].”3
So any criticism that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not hold the contemporary Christian view of God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost is not a comment about our commitment to Christ but rather a recognition (accurate, I might add) that our view of the Godhead breaks with post–New Testament Christian history and returns to the doctrine taught by Jesus Himself. Now, a word about that post–New Testament history might be helpful.
In the year A.D. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea to address—among other things—the growing issue of God’s alleged “trinity in unity.” What emerged from the heated contentions of churchmen, philosophers, and ecclesiastical dignitaries came to be known (after another 125 years and three more major councils)4 as the Nicene Creed, with later reformulations such as the Athanasian Creed. These various evolutions and iterations of creeds—and others to come over the centuries—declared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, imminent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.” They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.
We agree with our critics on at least that point—that such a formulation for divinity is truly incomprehensible. With such a confusing definition of God being imposed upon the church, little wonder that a fourth-century monk cried out, “Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, . . . and I know not whom to adore or to address.”5 How are we to trust, love, worship, to say nothing of strive to be like, One who is incomprehensible and unknowable? What of Jesus’s prayer to His Father in Heaven that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”?6
It is not our purpose to demean any person’s belief nor the doctrine of any religion. We extend to all the same respect for their doctrine that we are asking for ours. (That, too, is an article of our faith.) But if one says we 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?7
We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer just mentioned, His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephen—to name just four.
With these New Testament sources and more8 ringing in our ears, it may be redundant to ask what Jesus meant when He said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.”9 On another occasion He said, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”10 Of His antagonists He said, “[They have] . . . seen and hated both me and my Father.”11 And there is, of course, that always deferential subordination to His Father that had Jesus say, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.”12 “My father is greater than I.”13
To whom was Jesus pleading so fervently all those years, including in such anguished cries as “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”14 and “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”?15 To acknowledge the scriptural evidence that otherwise perfectly united members of the Godhead are nevertheless separate and distinct beings is not to be guilty of polytheism; it is, rather, part of the great revelation Jesus came to deliver concerning the nature of divine beings. Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best: “Christ Jesus . . . being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”16
A related reason The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is excluded from the Christian category by some is because we believe, as did the ancient prophets and apostles, in an embodied—but certainly glorified—God.17 To those who criticize this scripturally based belief, I ask at least rhetorically: If the idea of an embodied God is repugnant, why are the central doctrines and singularly most distinguishing characteristics of all Christianity the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the physical Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? If having a body is not only not needed but not desirable by Deity, why did the Redeemer of mankind redeem His body, redeeming it from the grasp of death and the grave, guaranteeing it would never again be separated from His spirit in time or eternity?18 Any who dismiss the concept of an embodied God dismiss both the mortal and the resurrected Christ. No one claiming to be a true Christian will want to do that.
Now, to anyone within the sound of my voice who has wondered regarding our Christianity, I bear this witness. I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace19 can we gain eternal life.
My additional testimony regarding this resplendent doctrine is that in preparation for His millennial latter-day reign, Jesus has already come, more than once, in embodied majestic glory. In the spring of 1820, a 14-year-old boy, confused by many of these very doctrines that still confuse much of Christendom, went into a grove of trees to pray. In answer to that earnest prayer offered at such a tender age, the Father and the Son appeared as embodied, glorified beings to the boy prophet Joseph Smith. That day marked the beginning of the return of the true, New Testament gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the restoration of other prophetic truths offered from Adam down to the present day.
I testify that my witness of these things is true and that the heavens are open to all who seek the same confirmation. Through the Holy Spirit of Truth, may we all know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent.”20 Then may we live Their teachings and be true Christians in deed, as well as in word, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. Isaiah 29:14.
2. Articles of Faith 1:1.
3. Paul F. Achtemeier, ed. (1985), 1099; emphasis added.
4. Constantinople, A.D. 381; Ephesus, A.D. 431; Chalcedon, A.D. 451.
5. Quoted in Owen Chadwick, Western Asceticism (1958), 235.
6. John 17:3; emphasis added.
7. For a thorough discussion of this issue, see Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christian? 71–89; see also Robert Millet, Getting at the Truth (2004), 106–22.
8. See, for example, John 12:27–30; John 14:26; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 1:1–3.
9. John 5:19; see also John 14:10.
10. John 6:38.
11. John 15:24.
12. Matthew 19:17.
13. John 14:28.
14. Matthew 26:39.
15. Matthew 27:46.
16. Philippians 2:5–6.
17. See David L. Paulsen, “Early Christian Belief in a Corporeal Deity: Origen and Augustine as Reluctant Witnesses,” Harvard Theological Review, vol. 83, no. 2 (1990): 105–16; David L. Paulsen, “The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives,” BYU Studies, vol. 35, no. 4 (1996): 7–94; James L. Kugel, The God of Old: Inside the Lost World of the Bible (2003), xi–xii, 5–6, 104–6, 134–35; Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (2001), 33–34.
18. See Romans 6:9; Alma 11:45.
19. See 1 Nephi 10:6; 2 Nephi 2:8; 31:19; Moroni 6:4; Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 3:24.
20. John 17:3.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I cannot remember crazier primary race than the one going on right now. I for one figured that by the time Iowa rolled around it would be down to a two man race, three at the most. I thought Huckabee would still be in, but not “in”. I thought McCain would stay dead. I thought Giuliani would be making a push in New Hampshire and in second in Iowa. And I thought Romney would still be dominating Iowa. About the only two things that turned out the way I thought was that Fred Thompson would fade and that Romney would come back to the pack in New Hampshire.
Well, now that I have sufficiently demonstrated how inept I am (although in my defense I did nail the predictions-including the margin of victory-at the Ames straw poll, and everyone was completely off on their predictions, so I am not alone). Allow me to give a quick run down of the current state of the race and make some predictions that are sure to be wrong. First the candidates:
1. Mitt Romney. I rank Mitt #1 because he has the most paths to the nomination. He could lose IA, win NH, win MI. He could win IA, lose NH, win MI. He could lose both IA and NH, win WY and MI. Or he could win IA. Two things I tend to strongly believe, however, First, if he wins IA, he wins the nomination. Second if he loses IA, Michigan is a MUST win.
All this being said, Mitt is still a wild card even if he loses MI. He has the money and organization to compete in later states. But I wouldn’t give him much of a shot.
2. John McCain. I can’t believe I am ranking him second. But this is what I see. I think a solid 3rd place finish for him in Iowa will be treated by the media as a win; much like Huckabee’s second in straw poll. If he wins NH, he will have a good shot at MI. Voters know him, for good and bad, and that will prove to be a positive thing for him. They also know that he is considered the most electable, and in a group of candidates that no one can decide on, it may come down to who can actually win.
Additionally, McCain has two scenarios for the nomination. If he wins NH, he will be in a good spot. But he could lose the first two and still win the nod, here’s how: A solid 3rd in IA (with Huck winning), propels him to a close 2nd place loss to Mitt in NH, say 1-3 point loss. The media will rave about the resurgent McCain. This “mo” leads him to a win in Michigan and on to the nomination. I think this scenario is HIGHLY unlikely, but it is plausible.
3. Mike Huckabee. Mike has only one scenario: Win IOWA. A win in Iowa may be enough to keep him afloat into South Carolina. A win there and he could sweep the southern states, including Florida. If he does this, he could be the guy. He is leading nationally now and leads in a lot of states. But that lead is contigent on Iowa.
However, Iowa is going to be a tough victory. He has to contend with Mitt’s superior organization, which some pontificators argue gives Mitt an additional 5% to the current polls. If Mitt draws closer, say within 3-4 points, a victory for Huck will be very difficult. Not only that, but Huckabee has become the most divisive candidate in the party. A win in Iowa will only strengthen the voices of opposition, it will be difficult to win SC without winning or placing in NH, WY, or MI and while facing a barrage of attacks from many conservatives.
It should be noted that McCain and Huckabee’s rankings are almost interchangeable.
4. Rudy Giuliani. His collapse has been astounding and incredibly quiet. The most news he has received in December is about a hospital stay. Rudy has gone all in in Florida. A loss there and he is done. He may still pull a few states out on Feb 5th, but one of those won’t be California.
The problem Rudy has in Florida is that he is flailing there also. Huckabee is surging and Mitt is right there as well. I just don’t see Rudy being able to hang on in Florida after placing 3rd or worse in the first 6 contests.
This being said, Rudy has the most room for improvement, check back in a month and don’t be surprised if he is up to 2nd.
5. Ron Paul. That’s right, not Fred. Why? Neither is going to win a state, but with Ron’s grassroots support and huge financial advantage, don’t be surprised if he pulls out 4th in Iowa and 3rd in New Hampshire. Ultimately, it doesn’t mean anything, except that he is in a better position than Fred. At least Ron has the money for an independent run in ’08.
6. Fred Thompson. Has there been a more disappointing candidate in the race? While he may have some good ideas, they certainly aren’t his (at least that’s my perception). Fred feels like a complete puppet to me. His wife wants victory more than him. He was coaxed into the race by a bunch of GOPers who saw him as a shoe in because he talks slow, has an accent, and is an actor.
The only shot Fred has is with a third place finish in Iowa and he needs to pray that the media plays that up. But even so, if there are only two tickets out of New Hampshire, he won’t have one of them.
So here are my state by state predictions through Jan 19th:
Iowa: 1. Huckabee (as of today) 2. Mitt 3. McCain 4. Fred 5. Paul 6. Rudy
WY: 1. Mitt 2. Huck 3. McCain 4. Paul 5. Fred 6. Rudy
NH: 1. Mitt 2. McCain 3. Rudy 4. Huck 5. Paul 6. Fred
MI: 1. Mitt 2. McCain 3. Huck 4. Rudy 5. Paul 6. Fred
SC: 1. Huck 2. Mitt 3. Fred 4. McCain 5. Rudy 6. Paul
NV: 1. Mitt 2. McCain 3. Rudy 4. Huck 5. Paul 6. Fred
And if it plays out like that:
FL: 1. Mitt 2. Huck 3. Rudy 4. McCain
And Mitt is your nominee.
P.S. This outlook will probably change tomorrow.
And you thought only Mitt changed positions! The fact is, all politicians flip-flop, all politicians pander. For some reason, voters and bloggers put more stock into what is said by a candidate rather than what their past record states.
Mitt Romney, though unclear on some stated positions, has still only flipped on one issue and that is abortion. However, he governed as a pro-life governor. He governed as a conservative, as a Republican, and as a person who successfully worked with the opposition party to accomplish great work.
John McCain, on the other hand, can talk all he wants. As he does, he continually changes positions, so what about his record? The fact is, it is less than desirable for much of the GOP electorate. He supported amnesty for illegal immigrants and was the principle author and promoter of McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. While McCain may well be a decent candidate, he is not the agent for change and is not going to improve upon what President Bush has done. McCain has never led anything, has no executive experience. He is also far hazier on the issues than Mitt. McCain would not be a disaster of a President like Fred or Rudy, but why settle for mediocrity with John, when we can have excellence with Mitt?
Mitt Romney is far and away the best candidate for President that the GOP has had since Ronald Reagan. The fact that the GOP race remains as convoluted as it is, is baffling to me. Mitt has the best resume, a track record of success in both business and politics, is a natural communicator, seeks differing opinion, is the most moral and ethical candidate in the race, has unparalleled character, and is the smartest. He is the kind of candidate that, in previous elections, people wished they would have, yet now that they have him they don’t recognize it, nor realize how good they have got it. Instead voters, pundits, and bloggers focus on little things and symantics in day to day coverage. So, rather than outline a defense of these claims, I will let Ronald Kessler of Newsmax do it for me. Here is the first section of this must read article on Mitt Romney:
Last April, Newsmax magazine ran a cover story headlined, “Romney to the Rescue: Romney’s Got the Right Stuff for 2008.”
Based on interviews I conducted with Mitt Romney and his friends, family, and aides, as well as with critics and neutral observers, the profile depicted him as a remarkably successful businessman and conservative governor with impeccable character.
Since the Newsmax article appeared nothing has changed.
No one has revealed that Romney appointed a close friend as police chief who has since been indicted for dealings involving figures with ties to the Mafia, as is the case with Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani did this even though he was warned about red flags in the candidate’s background.
There have been no revelations that Romney commuted or pardoned 1,033 criminals, including 12 murderers, as did Mike Huckabee. To the contrary, Romney granted no commutations or pardons as governor. Nor did Romney raise taxes. In contrast, by the end of his 10-year tenure, Huckabee was responsible for a 37 percent hike in the sales tax in Arkansas. Spending increased by 65 percent — three times the rate of inflation.
Huckabee joined Democrats in criticizing the Republican Party for tilting its tax policies “toward the people at the top end of the economic scale.” He aligned himself with Democrats and showed an ignorance of the Bush administration’s extensive diplomatic efforts when he said the White House has an “arrogant bunker mentality.”
In contrast to his nice guy public image, when Huckabee asked in a New York Times Magazine interview, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” he belied nastiness and demonstrated what George Will has rightfully suggested is bigotry.
Huckabee’s serial ethics violations and misuse of funds to maintain the governor’s mansion in Arkansas for restaurant meals, pantyhose, and dry cleaning bills recalls Bill and Hillary Clinton’s improper appropriation of White House furniture and chinaware for their Chappaqua, N.Y, home.
Unlike Fred Thompson, Romney has not been revealed to have a lazy streak. Aside from being a key backer of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, in his eight years in the Senate, Thompson was the primary sponsor of only four pieces of legislation, none of any significance. On the campaign trail, the sour-looking Thompson has distinguished himself as someone who schedules two or three events a week and often cancels at the last minute.
A former CIA officer recalls what happened when Thompson and seven other members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee visited Pakistan in late 2002.
“The other senators, including John Edwards, attended the classified intelligence briefing,” the former officer says. “Thompson blew it off and spent a lot of time drinking and eating.”
Finally, Romney has not been found to have a vicious, out–of-control temper, as is true of John McCain. Nor did he twice oppose President Bush’s tax cuts — a key ingredient in the current the economic recovery — as did McCain.
“He [McCain] would disagree about something and then explode,” said former Sen. Bob Smith, a fellow Republican who served with McCain on various committees. “[There were] incidents of irrational behavior. We’ve all had incidents where we have gotten angry, but I’ve never seen anyone act like that.”
Over the years, McCain has alternately denied being prone to angry outbursts, admitted he struggles to control his anger, and claimed he only becomes angry over waste and abuse. But those who have experienced it say his anger does not erupt over policy issues or waste and abuse. Rather, his outbursts come when peers disagree with McCain or tell him they won’t support him.
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