Monday, November 5, 2012

The Timeliness of Mitt's Mormonism

From ANN ALTHOUSE: “It’s fascinating — isn’t it? — how little anti-Mormon material has been spread about in this election. The only notable person who seems to be going there is Andrew Sullivan.”

I'd like to think I didn't engage in any anti-Mormonism during this term. Here is an op-ed I wrote about Mitt's Mormonism and I stand by it.

A taste:
Hmm... Mitt Romney, as a Mormon, claims to be a "Christian" and accepts Jesus as the divine, resurrected Savior of mankind. So what is the problem? Space forbids me to detail all of the problems evangelicals have with Mormonism. But, at base, Mormonism denies historic orthodoxy as found in doctrines like the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds; to disbelieve in orthodox Trinitarianism, as it were, is to disbelieve in "Mere Christianity" as CS Lewis termed it. After the late Walter Martin, conservative evangelicals often term non-Trinitarian religionists, like the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others, as "cults."

Though the term "cults" was not used during the American Founding era to describe non-Trinitarians, the "orthodox" then (especially clergy) did regard these "heretics" as not "Christian."


Most know that Thomas Jefferson, who served two terms as third President, was not an orthodox Trinitarian Christian. He did, interestingly, think of himself as a "Christian" while denying every single tenet of historic orthodoxy.

Fewer know that John Adams too, failed, and to quote history professor John Fea's masterful new book on the Christian Nation controversy, "fail[ed] miserably" the test for Christian orthodoxy. Adams, who identified as a "unitarian" his entire adult life, bitterly mocked the doctrines of the Trinity, which he termed a "sacerdotal imposture[]," and the Incarnation, which he said "stupified the Christian World."

And it's not as though George Washington and James Madison, respectively, the first and fourth American Presidents, the "father of America" and the "architect of the Constitution," were paragons of Christian orthodoxy. While not as overtly unitarian as the second and third American Presidents, Washington and Madison, from their own words, offer little to demonstrate their belief in Christian orthodoxy.

Indeed, Washington's own orthodox minister, the Reverend James Abercrombie, claimed Washington's systematic avoidance of communion meant he was not a "real Christian" because his actions "disregard[ed] an ordinance so solemnly enjoined by the divine Author of our holy religion, and considered as a channel of divine grace."

And well respected orthodox Episcopalian, William Meade, third Bishop of Virginia, well acquainted with Madison, claimed the fourth President's "political associations with those of infidel principles, of whom there were many in his day, if they did not actually change" his youthful, conventionally religious spirit, "subjected him to the general suspicion of it." (One prominent unitarian contemporary of James Madison, George Ticknor, founder of the Boston Public Library, claims Madison personally professed unitarianism to him during a dinner conversation.)

In all likelihood, the first American President who might pass [the] orthodox test for Christianity was seventh President Andrew Jackson!

The early American Presidents were not perfect, but they well led the newly formed nation. Their example shows little connection between belief in orthodox Trinitarian doctrine and Presidential leadership acumen.

Please keep that in mind when considering how Mitt Romney's Mormonism might impact his qualifications for the American Presidency.
When I was at the CPS Conference last spring a very prominent researcher who sometimes reads American Creation asked why did we discuss Mormonism on a regular basis.  My answer was twofold.  One:  It's current; we may have a Mormon President.  The second answer was, "who holds the baton to the political theology of the American Founding?"  The above mentioned key Founders were the theistic liberals of their day.  The theological liberals of today are Unitarian Universalists and the liberal Christian churches (Obama's and the mainline churches).  Do they hold the baton?  Perhaps.  But I leave it an open question.  Perhaps the heretical conservative sects like the Mormons hold the baton.  Mormonism certainly seems more authentically "American" a creed than orthodox Christianity.  Though, one major difference I observe is Mormonism isn't as rationalistic as the key Founders' creed.  


Anonymous said...

The Cult word gets over-used,but in some cases it is appropriate.
The Watchtower came into existence as false prophets to 'announce' Jesus second coming in 1874 then they switched it to October 6 1914.
They fulfill St. Paul's warning of those who 'preach a different Gospel'.(Galatians 1:8)
The definition of a destructive religious cult is like alcoholism-if booze controls you instead of the other way around you are an alcoholic.
Jehovah's Witnesses are cult-like in their dogmatic tactics.
The Watchtower society is not benevolent and won't let you leave their organization in peace.
If they try to ruin your reputation and break up your family for trying to get out then they are a cult!
Whenever you surrender your logic and reason to anyone who asks you to trust them because they know better and to please donate generously, it's a cult. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck...
''tell the truth don't be afraid--Danny Haszard

Tom Van Dyke said...

Sounds like the Democratic Party.

Sorry, folks, couldn't resist.