Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mormon Debate At First Things

Outstanding debate between a Mormon and an orthodox Christian at First Things. As my readers know I think Mormonism is a good analogy to the religious creed of America's key Founders [Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and others]. All of them, including Jefferson and Franklin, were more likely to identify as "Christians" in some sense than "Deists" (although they may not have viewed these concepts as mutually exclusive; a popular definition of Deism at the time of the Founding was simple belief in one God, meaning all God believers were "Deists," not a very meaningful definition; hence Jefferson could speak of the "Deism" of the Jews). Mormons too consider themselves "Christian." Yet Mormon belief is inconsistent with enough orthodoxy that orthodox Christians claim "this isn't Christianity." Ditto with the religious beliefs of America's key Founders. In short, if Mormons can't pass the "Christian" test, then neither could (or likely could) Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and many other Founding Fathers.


smitty1e said...

>if Mormons can't pass the "Christian" test, then neither could

As a Christian, it's always healthy to fall short of 100% certainty over the salvation of anyone.
Their lips say one thing, their deeds another, and who but the Almighty has perfect knowledge?
All I can tell you is that I'm not a Mormon.

Phil Johnson said...

Maybe a better word for a person who accepts Jesus into their being would be, Jesuit.
But, alas, that word, too, has already been hijacked.
I think that something of that nature is what Jesus came against when he scolded the historians and the lawyers for the weighty burden they put on the rest of society.

Brad Hart said...

Thanks for the link, Jon. Great stuff!

Ray Soller said...

The Porter and McDermott article contains some interesting points that are worth an additional comment.

This paragraph is a good example: "God’s divine, embodied being is the center, not the limit of his power. We believe that a tangible glory or light 'proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne . . . who is in the midst of all things' (D&C 88:11-13). By means of this spirit, God’s power and influence are present at every point of time and space."

This notion of the "glory or light" that emanates from God reminds me of classical Greek/Roman astrological thought. In this framework the sun, moon, and stars are intermediate purveyors of God's light/glory through which all souls receive the spark of life. Supposedly, when a person is born his/her spirit first descends to earth through a cluster of stars, known as Praesepe, located in the constellation of Cancer, and then descends through each of the seven planetary spheres. Now, depending upon the various positions of each of the planets when transit is made to earth, the person acquires his/her potential for greatness, or what we might call a person's "genetic" makeup. Consequently, knowing one's horoscope at time of birth was a way of delving into one's potential for stardom. Death, or ascension into heaven, worked in reverse, where a person would find a place amongst the stars. I contend that "[W]hen he [Stephen] looked up and said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God' (Acts 7:56)," Stephen made reference to a recognizable visual siting in heaven, much the same way as when Octavian (Augustus) observed Julius Caesar's soul being taken up into heaven. (See Wonders of the Sky by Tamra Andrews, pgs. 111-114, "Caesar's Comet" a Myth from Rome.)

Dave2 said...

smitty1e, I don't think the question is whether the Mormons will get saved, it's whether they count as 'Christians'. Kind of like whether members of the Nation of Islam count as 'Muslims'.