Thursday, December 6, 2012

I am a Mormon and a CHRISTIAN

I have been a member of this church for almost 50 years. I was educated at a Methodist College, Huntingdon, in Montgomery, Alabama. It is owned and operated by the Methodist Church. A huge percentage of the people I attended that college with are now Methodist ministers. One of my class mates was Senator Jeff Sessions one of the two U S Senators from Alabama. All that I was taught in that college I believe. I had to take 12 hours of religion in order to graduate from there. I was not taught anything that runs counter to what I have been taught as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.

It has been my privilege to have taught in the church’ Seminary and Institutes division 6 years. I have shared lessons with 100’s of students. I have drawn on the things that were taught to me in college. I find no incongruence between the theology of the Latter Day Saints and that of the Methodists.

However, I have been told by countless people that I am a member of a cult. I don’t even comprehend what they are talking about. I had this well meaning client explain it to me. He said that a cult is any organization that teaches you have to do extra stuff to be saved. That is beyond the acceptance of the Savior and confessing his name. Incidentally this guy’s life looks like scrambled eggs resultant from the choices he has made over the years. However in his vernacular, he is a Christian and I am a non-Christian.

I approached a big mouthed radio talk show guy about hosting a member of our leadership on his show. The intent was to have a local Bishop and/or a Stake President speak to his listeners and handle questions. The reason was that the GOP candidate, a latter day saint, worked in those two positions for a sum total of 12 years. I suggested that the venue might be of interest. Following is his response back to me.

“ As for your offer, I will pass.  Gov. Romney's religion was discussed on the program last week when I received just one too many e-mail from people telling me that they would not vote for him due to his faith.  Suffice to say that I think it is a foolish position.  Though I believe there are vast and important differences between Christianity and Mormonism, I completely support Governor Romney as a good, moral, upright man.

 Feel free to listen to the segment (maybe Thursday).  I have no interest into getting into a protracted debate over Mormonism and Christianity.  I got a couple of e-mail to that effect from Mormons in the audience.  I have studied the faith, along with other world religions for eight years.  I served as a vocational pastor for about sixteen or seventeen years and studied the bible in three languages.  My position on Mormonism is rooted and not changing.

 I have learned over the years that practicing Mormons believe it to be their mission, in part, to convince people like me that the faith is fully compatible with Christianity.  I disagree and I would much prefer to leave it as that.  I lament that Christians do not live their faith out as completely as do Mormons, because Mormons that I call friends are among the finest people I know.

He reveals his contempt for Latter Day Saints in his words. It is sort of what a racist does when he castigates a general group of people by their ethnicity and/or demographics. “ Let me preface this by saying that some of my best friends are African Americans, orientals, gay people, muslims, etc, etc.”

I will tell you that I just don’t get it. Years ago I was sort of drawn to the message of The Promise Keepers . I was in a position to provide them with a spectacular family values display put together by my church and meant to be a standing display on family values. I put this display in the State Capital of Florida here in Tallahassee, the Leon County court building, numerous malls and other court buildings in outlying areas. My intent was to share it at a  Promise Keepers rally that was to transpire in the Donald L. Tucker, civic center here in Tallahassee. It was to be put up by volunteers and would have cost them nothing. They could have afforded it because the price per head to attend the rally was about $75.

I got back a scathing reply from one of their leaders, a protestant minister. He told me in no uncertain terms that theirs was a Christian venue and that they would not be accepting any help from a cult. He told me, in the name of Christ, that I should examine my allegiance to such a non-Christian organization as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Back during the Republican primaries this drama developed at a rally of evangelicals in Texas. This venue was early in the candidacy of Texas Governor Rick ………………(oops)…………….Perry.

It was no ordinary opener from the prominent Southern Baptist Convention leader, Pastor Robert Jeffress, who endorsed Perry on Friday. Jeffress praised Perry for defunding Planned Parenthood in Texas, calling the provider of women’s health and abortion services, “that slaughterhouse for the unborn.”

He also lauded Perry’s “strong commitment to biblical values.”

“Do we want a candidate who is skilled in rhetoric or one who is skilled in leadership? Do we want a candidate who is a conservative out of convenience or one who is a conservative out of deep conviction?” Jeffress said. “Do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person — or one who is a born-again follower of the lord Jesus Christ?”
Jeffress called Perry a “genuine follower of Jesus Christ.” The pastor did not mention Perry’s rival Mitt Romney by name, but he told reporters after his remarks on Friday that Mormonism was a “cult.” (USA Today)

I will tell you that I just flat don’t understand this assertion from so many people and avenues. I   worship Jesus Christ. He is my Saviour and my master. I pray to the Father through him every day. I read about him in the Old and New testaments. Everything that comes out of our church’ publishing division has His name in it. If I went out and drank myself off of a stool every night people would call me an alcoholic. If I shot myself up with heroin 2-3 times a day people would say that I am a dug addict. If I chased women and added up monthly conquests they would call me a fornicator. Here I am trying to live a Christ like life. I speak of Christ, I live my life around His teachings and I have taught my children of Him. Yet people call me a member of a cult. If I worship Jesus Christ, then I am a Christian, period, end of discussion.

Jan Shipps author of  Sojourner in the Promised Land (2000, by University of Illinois press)  is an authority of sorts regarding we Mormons. She describes her acceptance into the Mormon culture in sort of a Diane Fossey’s “ Gorillas in the Mist” fashion. She is an academic. A Ph D in history, BA from Utah State University and a practicing Methodist. She sums up her 400 page text with this alarming statement:

“ In the light of a contemporary rhetorical shift that seems to be turning Mormon into an adjectival modifier used to signify a particular kind of Christian. I may seem to be making too much of the fact that at a critical juncture in the establishment of their church , the Saints accepted and came to relish Mormon and Mormonism as alternative labels. But there can be little doubt that their embracing the label Mormon in lieu of being called Christian contributed to a perception that Mormonism is not Christian” ( pg. 345 3rd paragraph)

She goes on in her summary to take the position that we Mormons are not Christians. I find that amazing. Not only does she begin sentences with prepositions but she spends 40 years studying our faith and does not have a clue as to whom we follow. That is simply illogical and extremely ignorant. She actually believes that we invented the terminology Mormon and prefer it to Christian. I have been taught from day 1 of my membership that we follow Christ. Mormon is a nick name given to us by outsiders because of our belief in the book of Mormon. We did not invent that nick name. Outsiders did that.

I suppose that the best we can do is live our lives in a fashion that tells people that we are Christian. Let them call us whatever they like. I have been alive almost 67 years. The people that I know that are the very best example of Christ like demeanor come from amongst my associates in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  

1 comment:

Wonsch Family said...

I enjoyed reading this and hearing your points. I'm with you, I just don't get it why sooooo many still claim we're cult members. Nope, sorry to disappoint people, we're Christians too!