Category Archives: Baptist

Mitt’s Make or Break Moment

Mitt Romney’s “Mormon Speech” will apparently be given this coming Thursday at Texas A&M University and the George Bush Presidential Library.   This will be a make or break moment for the campaign.   Undoubtedly it will have some sort of effect on the campaign.

The decision to give this speech is undoubtedly due to Mitt believing that they need a shot in the arm and need to try to slow Huckabee’s ascension.   It also is apparent that the campaign does believe that Mormonism is a weight limiting Mitt’s rise, and it needs to be addressed.

Certainly this is a gutsy move.  No other candidate has had or will have such a defining moment that can destroy or complete make a campaign before the first vote is cast.  In a worst case scenario, the speech will come off terrible and give off the perception that Mitt will take orders from Salt Lake City.  This is highly unlikely.

What is likely, is that Mitt gives a great speech that is very clear, however it will fairly ambiguous – not quite embracing Mormonism, while not equating Mormonism with Christianity; he will try to ride the middle of the road.  This is definitely the safest route, but undoubtedly there will large chunks of Christians who will dissatisfied and will look for short sound bites and snippets to take out of context.

At the same time there will be significance criticism from handfuls of Mormons who will think that Mitt did not defend the Church well enough or that he didn’t define the Church as being Christian.

Thus, these are things I am confident will result: 1. There will be no consensus on how Mitt did and if it quelled the Mormon question.   2. This will have zero affect with Christians who have already made up their minds about Mitt and Mormonism.   3. Building off of #2, this will not put to rest the Mormon Question.   4. There will be significant criticisms from a good part of the Mormon community.  5. There will be significant praise from the Mormon community.

So, a positive effect will not be huge.  But is large enough to justify giving the speech.  Mitt doesn’t need 20% of the 25% of those who say they will not vote for a Mormon to change their mind, he doesn’t even need 1% of those to change their mind (at least not yet).  What Mitt needs is for those voters in Iowa who are leaning away from Mitt largely because of his Mormonism, to change their minds.  My wholly unscientific estimation is that about 5-8% of the Iowa voters like Mitt and would otherwise vote for him if not for the whole religion thing, but who still may.  It appears that most of those voters are lining up behind Huckabee, so if Mitt can pull 4% into his camp (about 50-70% of those mentioned) and away from Huck, Mitt can pull out a win in Iowa.

Ultimately, however, this speech can destroy his campaign.  How it plays is all determined by how it plays in the media and on the blogs.  If previous reporting on the campaign is any indication of how things will shake out, Mitt is in for tough ride.  It could be a lose-lose situation.  The media has not given Mitt the benefit of the doubt on anything.  He seems to be the most criticized and attacked of the GOP candidates (at least Giuliani has Fox News to downplay his scandals).   

However this time may be different.  The media likes victims, they like people or groups facing tough odds and opposition.  Thus, there may a bit of sympathy for Mitt and Mormons.  If so the coverage on the MSM may be quite positive and a significant benefit to the campaign.  However, don’t look for the same kind of sympathy on the blogs.   There will be a lot of pro-Mormon vs. anti-Mormon ramblings going on.  There will columnists who will completely trash Mitt and Mormonism and even make stuff up. Likewise there will be columnists who will defend Mitt and Mormonism to illogical levels. 

No matter how it shakes out, this week is going to be abuzz about Mitt Romney; that can’t be a bad thing for the campaign, at least not until Thursday afternoon.

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Filed under Baptist, Bible, Book of Mormon, Candidates, Christian, Christianity, Conservative, Democracy, Democrats, Election 2008, Media, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Mormon, Mormonism, Politics, Religion, Republicans

Thomas S. Monson’s Priesthood Session Intro of Pres. Hinckley

Request For Information:  I have been scouring the Internet looking for a transcript or, ideally, an audio or video copy of President Monson’s off the cuff mini-talk while introducing Pres. Hinckley at Priesthood Session of LDS General Conference.  In this, he told the story of the red-headed boy and also very passionately expressed his love and admiration for President Hinckley.  It was extremely touching and I would love to have some sort of full record of it.   Hopefully they will put it on the CD’s when they are released or in the Ensign.   Thanks for your help!

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Henry B. Eyring, Quentin L. Cook replace Elder Faust in LDS Church

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was called and sustained as the new 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy was called as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles.  Elder Cook was called as a member of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy on  April 5, 1998. He was born in Logan, UT and served an LDS Mission to England.

The calling of Elder Eyring to serve with President Hinckley and President Monson as presiding officers of the Church is fantastic and somewhat surprising to me.  Surprising because he is one of the younger and junior Apostles (I believe, until today, that he was 3rd from the bottom in Seniority).  Seniority has nothing to do with this calling, but for some reason I would have expected one more senior.  Nevertheless, Elder Eyring has long been one of my favorite Apostles to listen to and receive instruction from.  His call was one of direct revelation from God, what a blessing it is to have a Church on the earth with such authority and with the same organization that existed when Christ was on the Earth.

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Are Mormons Christian? A Matter of Semantics

This question is one that has been continually argued since the inception of Mormonism. On the one hand Mormons say, “of course we are Christian, we believe that Jesus is God, he is the savior of the World. Even the name of our church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

On the other hand, mainstream Christianity (MSC) would argue that Mormons (LDS) are not Christian because LDS do not believe in the trinity (or as MSC likes to put “Mormons don’t believe in the same Jesus we do.”) – in that God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the exact same being.

Quite frankly, the debate is old and ridiculous. Honestly, it is a debate based upon semantics that will really have no bearing on either parties eternal salvation. Regardless of who is right, both MSC and LDS believe in God the Father, our supreme being, the creator and organizer of heaven and earth. We both believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God, the savior of the World, that he died for our sins and was resurrected in order to redeem us from both spirtual and physical death. We both believe in the holy spirit, who testifies of the father and the son and confirms their divinity through his presence. These are the beliefs God is truly looking for. Are we excercising such faith in him. Our understanding of the nature of God, though interesting and thought provoking, is not what God is judging us on, he is judging us on our faithfulness to his commandments and if we have accepted Christ as our savior. Undoubtedly, those in MSC and LDS have, even if we differ slightly on who Christ is.

Now, a note to Mormons, it is understandable that we want to be considered Christian and it is also understandable that we are offended when people say we are not. But you need to understand that MSC differentiates between believing in Christ and being Christian. I would hope that all those in MSC recognize that LDS believe in Christ. So when they say that we are not Christian, it means we do not believe in Christ the way they do, and hence, we do not fall under the Christian umbrella. Fine, so what? There is a reason that Mormonism is not a protestant faith, LDS is supposed to be different. So when mainstream Christians say that you are not Christian, smile and say, “if you say so.” Realize that no matter how much talking, discussing and arguing is done, one will not prove the other wrong. We are all already stuck in our ways.

Now, let’s discuss the origins and background for each argument. First, let’s point out that there is SIGNIFICANT evidence throughout the Bible supporting both MSC’s trinity and LDS’s Godhead arguments. So, I am not going to address Biblical evidences, again both points of view are strongly argued in the Bible. (I recognize that many on both sides will likely disagree with me on that, but I have had the Trinity vs. Godhead discussion enough times to know that no amount of time spent debating or discussing will prove one side or the other wrong). So, I simply want to address the origins for such beliefs outside of Biblical records.

Let’s start with the LDS Godhead – that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings. Quite simply the basis for this belief is rooted in the very beginning of the LDS movement – Joseph Smith’s first vision. As a young man Joseph was troubled by the various religions and their differences. He recognized the need for baptism and other ordinances, for the Bible taught that. But because there were so many different Christian faiths, he did not know which one was true. As a result, he took James’s advice and asked God. He went into a nearby patch of woods to have some privacy and began to pray; to find out which church was true. During this prayer he says God the father and Jesus Christ visited him. It was at this instance that the doctrine of the Godhead was solidified in the LDS Church; God and Jesus both visited the boy Joseph, they were not one being.

Now whether you believe this actually occured or not is neither here nor there. I only share it to explain that this is an unequivocal doctrine for the LDS Church and that this why it is believed. (Now, before many of you start commenting about how that is not biblical and JS is a false prophet, please spare me; remember that there is siginificant biblical evidence in support of the Godhood belief.)

In fact, these differences of opinion on the nature of God is what lead modern-day Christianity and Catholicism to their current trinitarian belief. From the death of Christ, or, more appropriately, Peter (as he was head of the Church after Christ’s death) through the reign of Emporer Constantine (who made Christianity a dominant religion) there was siginficant debate on this precise issue – the Nature of God. It was not until the First Council of Nicea (325 AD) and the First Council of Constantinople (381 AD) that the debate ended and the official belief of Christianity was that of the Trinity. Again, it is important to note that before this, there was no definitive definition, both sides were argued constantly.

So ultimately, what the argument comes down to is a matter of faith. Do you believe in the Nicene Creed version or the Joseph Smith version? There is nothing wrong with believing in either one in my opinion. I certainly have my beliefs, but I do not fault anybody for having theirs either. We are all entitled to them.

The point is, is so what if MSC don’t think LDS are Christian? If being Christian means that I have to deny my faith and subscribe to what the majority think, I don’t want to be considered a “Christian.” Further, if people like “Christian Leader” Bill Keller represent Christianity, I want nothing to do with it. Christ did not spend his time preaching hate and vitriol against the faith of others, he simply taught what he knew to be the truth and went on his way. That is what I think the LDS Church tries to do, at least as a whole. Mormons should not worry so much about what others think of them (although it is hard not to), but focus on ways to improve yourself and strengthen your faith. This is the same thing people of all faiths should be doing. All people should share their beliefs when appropriate, but do not criticize those of others. If entering into a conversation or debate about religion make sure it ends cordially and simply agree to disagree, people have been arguing religion since Cain and Abel.

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Mitt and Mormonism

Much has been made about Mitt Romney and his faith over the last six months.  Undoubtedly, this scrutiny will become more and more pressing as the campaign rolls on, especially if Romney should happen to win the GOP nomination for President.   A majority of things written focus on the impact his religion will have on his campaign, there has also been some writings on what impact his campaign will have on the Church.  It is this latter topic that I would like to address. 

The LDS Church (of which I am an active member) is in a very unique position in its history.  Sure, there have been high profile members, members in position of power, and members as heads of companies.   Steve Young, Harry Reid, Orrin Hatch, J.W. Marriott, and even Brandon Flowers (lead singer of the band, The Killers) have all been high profile LDS individuals, among others.   Many high profile Mormons introduce the Church to new groups of people and, as a result, provides opportunity for Church growth and also opens them up to more scrutiny.  However, none of these high profile individuals have or will ever put the church in a larger spotlight than will Mitt Romney should he continue as a Presidential front runner.

Just 6 months into the campaign, with 7 to go until the first vote is cast and 16 until the last, Mormonism is covered more in the MSM and on the Internet more than ever before.   This is and will be both a blessing and a curse for the Church.  I even think that lay church members will have bitter sweet feelings over whether they want this attention or not.  On the one hand, having a Mormon be legitimatly considered for President of the United States makes us feel more accepted and like we have made it. (What “it” is however, is a mystery).  LDS culture, whether most admit or not, has an insatiable desire for acceptance and recognition.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with this or that it is abnormal, everyone has some sort of desire for these same things.  This desire is why I, as a Utah Utes fan cheers for our bitter and hated rival BYU when they are playing Notre Dame or Boston College or TCU, I can say “yeah, we Mormons beat you Catholics or Evangelicals” or whatever.  I know this is childish, but it is what many of us do.  So I think many are somewhat looking forward to the attention the Church gets as a result of the campaign, even the negative things.

On the other hand, every organization, especially religious ones who claim some sort of divinity and hold high moral standards, are going to have skeletons in their history.  Mormons are no exception.  Things like the Mountain Meadow Massacre or the controversy about Blacks not receiving the Priesthood until 1978 can and will reflect poorly on the Church, regardless of the reasoning or explanation behind them.  Not only these type of things, but the Church also has many doctrines that are foreign to mainstream Christianity and that are deemed heretical.   Average Mormons will be questioned and challenged about these doctrines, it will be greatly uncomfortable and challenging (This is why I created the Mormon Q&A page here, to attempt to answer such questions).  These things will be flaunted across the Internet and on TV, it will be interesting to see how the Church addresses it, if they do at all.

Because of these challenges I think many members will sort of wish that this attention never came at all.  Some people may even lose their faith as a result.  Despite this, I welcome the attention for the Church and I think the senior leadership, while actively preparing for it I’m sure, also welcome it.  Why?  Because the Church has nothing to be afraid of or to apologize for.   Our people are generally good, moral, law-abiding, neighborly people.  Most people who know Mormons have a favorable view of them, despite reservations about our beliefs.  Additionally, the Church claims to be Jesus Christ’s restored church on the earth.  We believe in a foundation of apostles and prophets and that the Church is led by direct revelation from God and is given authority from him to act in his name.  What do we have to fear?   Sure, there are beliefs and doctrines that are hard to understand, but I have always held the belief that every Church has doctrines that most people, even most members, don’t fully understand;  God uses 100% of his brain, I use about 6%.  God would expect us to utilize faith and try to use our brains to figure out the mysteries.  In fact if a Church doesn’t have such complexities and intricacies I personally doubt any claim they have on divinity.  God should require things of his people.

Now I am not writing this to disparage any other religion or faith, but only to illustrate why I don’t think most LDS folks need to be concerned about the negative attention brought on our faith as a result of Romney’s candidacy.  In fact there will likely be many many people intrigued and curious and may end up joing the LDS Church as a result.  It seems that this one factor alone is one of the major motivating factors behind much of the criticism of the Church so far. Undoubtedly, there are some people who will not support Mitt purely because of his faith and that said faith may benefit from it, if inadvertently.   The next year and a half will be ridiculously exciting and intriguing, yet for many Mormons, will also be challenging.  But I always try to remember a quote from Joseph Smith in regards to the incredible challenges and persecutions the Church endured in Missouri and Illinois:

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say, ‘the work is done’.”

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A Call for the Extermination and Murder of 13 Million People

Wow. I have been browsing various blogs today looking around for interesting articles. Then I came across one from supporters of our good friend Sam Brownback, blogsforbrownback.wordpress.com, titled LDS: Still Crazy After All these years. Here is the text of the column:

“Thanks to our friends at the Political Pale Horse for this tidbit:

Emma Nemecek, a Brownback for President staffer, sent an email to the Romney campaign about his Mormon faith. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Nemecek said in the email “the only thing Christianity and the LDS Church has in common is the name of Jesus Christ, and the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith.” She went on to say “those who claim that [the] LDS [faith] is a Christian denomination don’t know Mormon or Christian theology.”

Never underestimate the intelligence of the average American voter.

Aside: Ever notice that LDS (Latter Day Saints) is an anagram of LSD? Makes you think, doesn’t it? No wonder they wear magical underpants (”garments”). They probably keep the angry dragons away (especially when infrequently laundered).

A further aside: I wonder when the Scientologists will front a Presidential candidate. A religion based on crappy science fiction from the 1950s? What’s next? Heaven’s Gate? The Nike party?”

Nothing too hostile here, I don’t think it is too thought out, but this is about standard for anti-Mormon comments. But then we get to the comments section, and these are incredible:

“What I’d like to know is how long after Sam Brownback is elected President will it be before those Mormons and Jehovahs Watchtower Witnesses are charged with felonies for pestering Christians. It is nothing short of terrorism against real Christians what they do.”Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett (Bold added for emphasis)

So despite religious freedom guaranteed in the Constitution, Mormons should be arrested and treated like terrorists. Sounds reasonable. But wait it gets better (and this is incredible):

“What’s wrong with these crazy people? Don’t they know Jesus is Lord? People like them belong in prison. Or in the grave. Why can’t we just kill them all now, and get it over with?”Marcia P.

Honestly, what can you say to that? Well, ok I had something to say to that, here is my comment:

“Wow, I can’t believe the vitriol and bigotry here. Incredible. Do you realize, Marcia, that you are basically calling for the extermination of a entire group of people, that puts you in the same category as Hitler. You realize that despite Mormons obvious differences in doctrine, we generally live good moral lives and espouse many of the same moral principles you all do (except for the apparent acceptance of Genocide). It is fine that you don’t think Mormons are Christian, if this is how Christians view their common man, I don’t want to be considered Christian.

By the way, how is what Mormonism does on par with Terrorism, last I heard we weren’t blowing up cars or killing people randomly. Based upon the comments here I would think many of you would be more aptly compared to Terrorists. Which leads me to the title of the piece and referring to Mormons as Crazy. Again, re-read what you all just wrote, sounds a little irrational and crazy to me, but what do I know I am just a terrorist crazy Mormon.

Finally, I am Mormon and I believe Jesus is Lord, as do all Mormons. Get your facts straight.” – Swint

I should also add a comment by Nick Byrum, a non-Mormon rational view of the comments:

“My god, while you are at it, why don’t you Bats for Brownback go back to smearing Catholics as “spiritual cannibals”? That whole consubstantiation vs. transsubstantiation thing, remember? I thought we dealt with that kind of prejudice back in 1960.

Or better yet, why don’t you go find a Jewish public official and start calling him a Christ killer? I thought we dealt with that kind of prejudice back in 1945.

If you want to go after Romney on issues, go for it. But this crap is beyond the pale.

Are Mormon doctrines wacky? Sure. I like a good glass of wine now and then. But the fruits of the religion–stable happy families, clean and sober and productive citizens–are just fine.

That is why Mormonism, however new and hokey, is a much better faith than an “established” religion like Islam, which has brought the world nothing but slavery, torture, and murder.

Frankly, I’d rather have Mormons for neighbors than you creeps.” – Nick Byrum

Following all these, Mrs. Gaines-Crockett goes on to defend the genocidal tendencies of Marcia P.

Frankly, people are free to have whatever opinion they want of anything, they are welcome to want to kill 13 million people if they want to, but that is not very Christ-like of them. It is really, really sad that there are people with such hatred in their hearts, especially those who call themselves Christian. I do not have a problem with people disagreeing with Mormonism, or calling us a cult, or even saying we are Satanic. You can think what you want, and frankly, I am confident enough in my beliefs that those things will not affect me and that I do not need to spend time tearing down and disparaging the beliefs of others. This is really the reason why I started the Mormon Q&A page, to share what we believe, not to tear down others. Call us what you will, but when you get too emotional and make irrational statements you sound, well, irrational and ignorant. So like I said in my comment above, if these hateful sentiments is what is considered Christian, then I don’t want to be Christian.

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