I have to admit, this started out to be a very different blog than it ended up. Like many, I was discouraged at the results of the election. Yes, I know that God is in control and uses even government for His purposes but sometimes those purposes are to punish His people or the nations in which His people dwell and they suffer as well. To be perfectly honest I am not a big fan of suffering.
I know that politics is messy business and corruption abounds in the hallowed halls of Congress and the White House. Special interest groups are working hard to persuade the Federal Government to use the club of legislation to beat down the opposition. But that is how government works in a Democratic Republic. We vote for candidates that most closely align with our worldview and values and trust they will at the very least protect us from those who have a different view. Continue reading …
Many well meaning Christians, even those who have a fairly good grasp of Scripture, often try to defend their faith with what is rightfully called, Incorrigible truth. It is a claim or claims, which by definition cannot be corrected or falsified. Let me give you an example from the world of construction which I had happen years ago. I had built a suite of offices in Chicago. In this particular project one of the requirements was that we had the thermostats calibrated and the supply and return air ducts tested and balanced. We also had to check the relative humidity. All was completed and the reports submitted and accepted. The offices were then occupied. On one side of the space was a row of about 10 offices which were staffed by females. I am not certain gender was involved but it is at least possible. Continue reading …
Matthew, Mark and Luke recorded the words of Jesus when He said:
YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ (Matt. 22:37)
Mark adds “strength” (Mark 12:30) and Luke adds “strength:” and loving your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). IN spite of this, the mind in the life of faith is an aspect of the faith that has largely been lost over the last 200 years or so within the church on the whole. In the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, the life of the mind was still held to be an important aspect of faith. Harvard University was established in 1636 for the purpose of training Christian ministers. Ten years later they adopted their “Rules and Precepts”:
2. Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him (Prov. 2:3).
3. Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in Theoreticall observations of Language and Logick, and in practical and spiritual truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130).
In 1701 a collegiate college was founded by several ministers in the New England colony of Connecticut “to the end that they might educate ministers in their own way.” It is said that the Mather family “also were among those in Boston who welcomed and labored for the establishment of a seminary of a stricter theology than Harvard” This Collegiate School of Connecticut was named Yale in 1718 after a wealthy benefactor by the name of Elihu Yale made a fairly substantial donation to the institution. Although arts and science were an important aspect of the instruction, they were to be viewed theocentrically (God centered) and grounded in sound theology:
The charter of 1701 stated that the end of the school was the instruction of youth in the arts and sciences, that they might be fitted for public employment, both in church and civil state. To the clergy, however, who controlled the College, theology was the basis, security and test of arts and sciences. In 1722 the rector, Timothy Cutler, was dismissed because of a leaning toward Episcopacy. Various special tests were employed to preserve the doctrinal purity of Calvinism among, the instructors; that of the students was carefully looked after. In 1753 a stringent test was fixed by the Corporation to ensure the orthodoxy of the teachers. This was abolished in 1778.
It is approximately here that a theocentric (God centered) and specifically a Christocentric (Christ centered) view of Scripture and life began to be replaced with an anthropocentric (man centered) view. By the time we get to the nineteenth century Continue reading …
In recent days I have been in a number of discussions about Mitt Romney running for President. It began last week while I was in Birmingham for the EMNR conference. During the Summit meeting the question was raised as to how a Mitt Romney Presidency would impact apologetics and Evangelicalism in general. This is an important question in light of the state of biblical illiteracy within Evangelicalism today. It is also important as some who are regarded as Evangelical leaders sign on to helping Romney get elected. National radio talk show host, Hugh Hewitt went so far as to call those who raise concerns about Romney’s Mormonism, “religious bigots.” For some this harkens back to the day of John F. Kennedy running for president and the fear that the Roman Catholic Church would be running the country if a faithful committed Roman Catholic were elected. The operative words here being “faithful” and “committed.” Regardless of what one thinks of Kennedy’s presidency it is pretty clear that Rome held no sway as to how the nation was governed. There are some who point this out and insist that this will be equally true with Romney and Mormonism. That may be but there are other questions which should probably be addressed.
The first question I would ask is, will Romney and the Mormon Church (more properly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or LDS for short) be honest about the claims of Mormonism? My response is, I don’t think so. For example in the article Romney must overcome bias against Mormons, by Phil Dawson of ABC affiliate WZZM13 quotes Kevin den Dulk, Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University:
He is going to have to show his faith is mainstream and is consistent with what the average American would want.
There is certainly a recognition that the “average American” is not going to want anything really exotic or what they may view as weird.
Insisting that Mormons are similar to any other Christian denomination he goes on to say:
We believe in God the Eternal Father,” says stake president Kaplin Jones. “We believe in His son Jesus Christ and through Christ’s atonement we have the opportunity to be resurrected and achieve eternal life. We think of ourselves as Christians
The devil is, as they say, in the details. The language sounds similar to that of Evangelicals but the definitions are what makes the difference. For Mormons “Eternal Father” is the one who procreated each and every one of us through physical sex with one of his many wives on a far distant planet. He was once a man who earned his way to become god and is one of an eternal progression of gods and goddesses before him. Jesus Christ likewise earned his way to godhood. The Eternal Father came to earth and had physical relations with his daughter Mary in order to provide a physical body for Jesus. Professor den Dulk mentioned “we have the opportunity to be resurrected and achieve eternal life .“ This is important as LDS see a difference between being born-again and having eternal life. Being born-again, in LDS parlance, is one getting the opportunity to be resurrected. Eternal life on the other hand is the opportunity to work your way to godhood as the LDS teach that Jesus, Heavenly father and all gods in the past have done (The LDS are polytheistic in teaching their many god view). The LDS are entitled to their beliefs but they officially deny the very basics of the Christian faith either overtly or by redefining the terms. This really raises the question of honesty as well. On the one hand the LDS desire to publicly claim that they are similar to any other denomination. On the other, internally, they are clear that the LDS is the only true church.
Gordon B. Hinckley, the current president of the LDS was asked about the teaching that men become gods by Larry King, Hinckley said that he didn’t know much about that teaching. As “god’s prophet” for today he may consider going to his college and sit under his professor, Robert Millet, who is clear in preparing the Mormon missionaries that Mormonism is the only true church, (this would of course mean that all other churches are false). He also lets them know that they need to be less than honest about becoming gods. At least until they have succeeded in winning the convert. All of this raises the question of honesty. If Mitt Romney and the LDS Church have a difficult time being honest about their faith, what does that say about his trustworthiness as a presidential candidate?
Will the LDS Church Run the Government?
This is not so much an article either for or against Mitt Romney. I don’t know if he is any more or less honest than any other candidate. MCOI does not take any official positions for or against any candidate or political party. Romney may make a fine president or he may make a terrible one. He may not even get to run for any number of things things can happen on the way to the Primaries. As time goes on reporters will look more deeply at Mormonism itself. The LDS will step up their work at fogging up the issues and discernment ministries will have increased burden to respond, with little support from the Evangelical churches. If elected, would the LDS be running the U.S. government? Most likely not. But something else which should be of concern to the Evangelical church will happen.
Merdian Magazine’s article Can LDS Film Director Mitch Davis Help Mitt Romney Get in the White House? features an interview with LDS film director, Mitch Davis. He is notably excited about the possibility of Romney being elected for the PR it will give to the church. As he put it:
Putting a human face on Mormonism and stepping out of the backyard, onto the world stage. But I think that’s just a byproduct of something much larger, which is electing the next leader of the free world as we approach one of the most perilous times in our planet’s history.
But in what way would this help the LDS?
How could it not? It’s one of the most visible jobs in the world! Having a Mormon in that office would be like having the Olympics in Salt Lake City every day for four years in a row — eight years if he runs for reelection!
The LDS is very effective at their public relations and missionary work. They have more full time missionaries on the street than all of the Evangelical missions organizations combined. And so, we find ourselves in an interesting place in history. Evangelicals that do not support missions to cults and false religious movements but will very likely support with their nickels and noses (money and vote) a Mormon earning his way to becoming a god for president. In so doing they will create one of the best media campaigns the LDS could ever hope for to advance their missions and growth.