Why Orthodox Christians are Converting to Mormonism? – Chapter 2

CHAPTER TWO

Survey of Non-Christian Literature 

Introduction: In this chapter the factors that make Mormonism an appealing religion to those in the orthodox Christian Church will be explored.  It is apparent from the rapid growth of the Mormon religion that there are certain attributes that attract new converts.  The following three general principles will be evaluated:  1) The claim of continued special revelation and access to the Word of God attracts orthodox Christians who do not understand the sufficiency of Scripture; 2) The claim of being the restored Church and its unity as a Church is appealing to orthodox Christians who are frustrated with the “fragmentation” of the Christian Church; and 3) The strong emphasis on personal holiness and godly living are qualities that orthodox Christians desire.Principle 1:  The claim of continued special revelation and access to the Word of God attracts orthodox Christians who do not understand the sufficiency of Scripture.            Since its inception in 1830, the Mormon religion has been based on the concept that God has provided new special revelation in these latter days.  The Book of Mormon is referred to as “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”, which is an appeal to its authority to make the claims contained therein.  Joseph Smith Jr. claimed to be a prophet of God who received this special revelation, which motivated him to begin the new religion.  He himself announced this from the beginning of his movement:

 

A fortnight after the publication of the Book of Mormon Joseph Smith announced to his following his official title as ‘Seer, a Translator, a Prophet, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and Elder of the Church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ.’  Fawn M. Brodie, No man knows my history The Life of Joseph Smith. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 84

From the beginning of the movement, this appeal to special revelation and authority from God is what attracted many to embrace it.  There certainly is a temptation to desire the same type of atmosphere that existed during biblical times.  The orthodox belief that the canon is closed, thus ruling out the possibility of new special revelation is not as exciting.  People would rather receive direct commandments from God through a prophet rather than take the time to study Scripture to learn it on their own.  At least this was the atmosphere when the Mormon movement began:

But America was ripe for a religious leader wearing the mantle of authority and speaking God’s word as one ordained in heaven to that purpose.  His mission should be to those who found religious liberty a burden, who needed determinate ideas and familiar dogmas, and who fled from the solitude of independent thinking, Joseph Smith, attempting to fill this role, was not unconscious of its exactions.  He bulwarked his new and precarious position by using rich old symbols, familiar, sure-fire and eminently safe…With an insight rare among the prophets of his own generation, he did not make a complete break with the past. He continued the story, he did not present a new cosmology…He grafted only two things on New Testament Christianity, himself and his book. Fawn M. Brodie, No man knows my history The Life of Joseph Smith. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 91.

The foundation of the Mormon religion is that God has revealed His truth to the prophet Joseph Smith.  This is the basis for his departure from orthodoxy and continues to set it apart from orthodox Christianity.  This belief of continued special revelation is not unique to Mormonism the Roman Catholic Church claims the same ability for the Papacy who asserts to be a successor to the Apostolic office.  However, the Roman Catholic Church has not made the categorical departure from the biblical articles of faith as Mormonism has.  Although, this movement during the nineteenth century was not a significant threat to orthodox beliefs today it has become more of a threat.  To some extent Mormonism has evolved to become more palatable, however to a larger extent events within orthodox Christianity have changed to make it more acceptable. 

During the time that the Mormon religion was primarily secluded to the state of Utah, isolated from the rest Christianity significant changes were taking place within orthodoxy.  The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are when liberalism began to attack the essentials of orthodox Christianity.  The denial of biblical inerrancy, existence of miracles and the historical reality of Jesus were ideas used to advance skepticism of orthodox beliefs.  The liberal movement began in the preeminent seminaries of this country (Harvard, Yale and eventually Princeton), and eventually became the dominant views of these seminaries.  This betrayal of orthodox beliefs among those representing the academic segment of Christianity produced distrust of theological scholarship among some.  Also, during this time Pentecostalism emerged as a popular segment within Christianity that entertained the idea that new special revelation can still be expected in some sense.  Of course, the Pentecostals (or Charismatics) would not go so far as to add too Scripture, however they did subscribe to miracles, prophecy and healing as normative for today.  The Charismatic movement tended to emphasize doctrine much less and elevate the experiential aspects of the Christian life.  This is a much more compatible view with how our culture has evolved as one writer accounts for its popularity:    

Pentecostal forms of religious expression have become popular because – like increasing numbers of school teachers, leaders of therapeutic communities, mental-health professionals, and even occasional academics who live in secular worlds – they seek authenticity through experience rather than through ideas. Alan Wolfe (2003). The Transformation of American Religion How we Actually Live our Fatih”, New York: Free Press, 81  The Charismatic movement has been very influential throughout the Christian world.  During the 1960s the Neo-Pentecostal movement began to integrate with many mainline denominations that began their own charismatic segments.  This embracing of the charismatic movement only led to its increased influence in the orthodox Christian culture.  Also during this time the ecumenical movement attempted to bring various denominations together.  Doctrine began to be seen as divisive or as a barrier towards any hope for re-unification of the Church.  Furthermore, many began to reject the notion that Christianity was a “religion” seen as cold, callous and dead.  Rather, the emphasis focused more on a spiritual relationship that manifests a much more meaningful reason for the Churches existence.  One author describes the trend as such:  

In context of American culture, the term spirituality took on a life of its own.  While it came into common parlance through the ecumenical movement of the 1960s and 1970s and through emphasis on the renewal of Christian spirituality associated with Vatican II, American usage of the term quickly expanded to include personal experiences and attitudes associated with a variety of different religious traditions…And by the 1980s, many had adopted spirituality as a term preferable to religion to characterize their mystical experiences and personal outlooks on reality.  Amanda Porterfield (2001).  The Transformation of American Religion, New York: Oxford University Press, 40 & 41 

This trend of denouncing “religion” and elevating a spiritual relationship appears to be a discrete attack on established religious institutions including mainline orthodox Christian denominations.  These denominations were established with rich creeds, many from the time of the Reformation, that systematical stated biblical doctrines affirming the articles of faith.  There were slight deviations and differences of emphasis among them, however they were objective standards that were taught to members providing a firm foundation.  To some extent, the criticism seems to have been justifiable as liberalism began to manifest a major influence in the mainline orthodox Christian denominations it encountered.  This influence from liberalism essentially neutered Christianity and the confessional statements that affirmed the biblical doctrines of the faith.  However, to some extent this trend was also influenced by the general culture that was rejecting the established institutions of the day.  Nonetheless, the result of the trend led to the formation of congregations that no longer emphasized confessions, creeds or the preaching and teaching of biblical doctrine, such as found in the Charismatic Churches.  This elevation of the experiential aspects of Christianity and de-emphasis of biblical doctrine impacted Evangelical Churches as well:   

Popularity has its obvious benefits, especially for an evangelical form of religion.  But popularity means bowing to, rather than resisting, popular culture, and since American popular culture is one that puts more emphasis on feeling good than thinking right, these movements tend to be especially hostile to potentially divisive doctrinal controversy. Alan Wolfe (2003). The Transformation of American Religion How we Actually Live our Fatih, New York: Free Press, 76 In the past 150 years there have been many changes in orthodox Christian Churches.  These changes have tended to weaken the doctrinal awareness of average Christians while strengthening their dependence on experience.  Consequently, the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is not as commonly to be understood.  In addition, the movements that emphasize the seeking of God’s voice outside of Scripture have further undermined the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.  The combination of these trends causes the Christian within these movements to be vulnerable to Mormonism.  Since Mormons deny the sufficiency of the Bible and promote the idea of new special revelation from God, it is reasonable to suggest that orthodox Christians would fall victim to it.                   

The Mormon claim of new special revelation was not an initial threat to orthodox believers, however as changes realized within orthodoxy have occurred the threat has grown more significant.  As many orthodox Christians have developed a willingness to entertain and promote the idea of continued special revelation, a major barrier has been overcome that separates them from Mormonism.  This barrier is the orthodox view that the canon of Scripture is closed and no further special revelation should be expected.  The absence of this barrier opens the possibility of the claims of Mormonism to be accepted including the following principles in this chapter.   

Principle 2:  The claim of being the restored Church and its unity as a Church is appealing to orthodox Christians who are frustrated with the “fragmentation” of the Christian Church.

From the beginning the Mormon religion set itself apart from the rest of Christianity as the one true restored church.  This concept of being the restored church is one of the two major pillars that support this religion, the first being the concept of continued special revelation.  This claim grows out of an inherent frustration that many possess towards what appears to be disunity within orthodox Christianity.  The rivalry between competing denominations and his search for the right one is what Joseph Smith claimed prompted his first vision:

By far the most successful of America’s homegrown religions, Mormonism today cannot be understood apart from its early-19th-century roots. Like other Yankees, founder Joseph Smith (1805-1844) was obsessed by the Bible and distressed by the competing claims of rival Christian denominations. Along with many other unchurched Americans he longed to recover the pure, “primitive” faith of Christ’s apostles. At the age of 14 Smith had a vision in which, he later said, God the Father and Jesus appeared to him as bodily beings, telling him that none of the existing churches were true.  “A Mormon Moment” by Kenneth Woodward, Newsweek September 2001 as quoted in http://www.lds-mormon.com/mormon_media.shtml 

The founder of Mormonism asserts that God revealed to him that all of Christendom had fell into apostasy and would use him to re-establish the true church to mankind.  He would make it clear to his followers that Mormonism was not another denominational body, but a restoration of the original church:    

Within two years of his revelation, which had sprung out of the mundane crisis of the lost manuscript, he had established the true ‘Church of Christ,’ bulwarked by the ancient priesthood of Israel claiming to be, not another fragment of Protestantism, but the restored religion of Jesus Himself.  Fawn M. Brodie (1986).  No man knows my history The Life of Joseph Smith. New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 84  The apostasy, according to the Mormons, happened shortly after the last Apostle died.  Thus, for approximately seventeen hundred years the true Church ceased to exist and only a corrupt version survived until God used Joseph Smith to restore it.  During the time that the Church was apostate Mormons believe that the transmission of the Bible was corrupted, as well.  This claim helps to relieve the tension created by comparing their doctrines with the Bible, since they are not in agreement.  They do acknowledge that at one time the Bible was God’s inspired Word, however due to the corruption in the transmission of the text it is no longer reliable.  This is even incorporated into their Articles of Faith, as we see in Article 8:

We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.  http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/mormon/mormonFULL.html 

The assertions made denying the legitimacy of the Church and the Church’s book, the Bible, allowed the Mormon religion the liberty to create a system of their own imagination.  This system would evolve, through special revelation, to include the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood, baptism for the dead, polygamy, a physical conception of Jesus Christ, and the idea that men could ascend to godhood, to name a few.  Only through a crass isegetical interpretation of the Bible, could some of these ideas be concocted.   Nonetheless, the assertion of biblical corruption and appeal to alternate sources of authority allowed these ideas, antithetical to the faith, to be implemented.  As a result, these served as indelible marks that separated the Mormon religion from orthodox Christianity. The belief that the authoritative standard possessed no credibility caused the creation of doctrinal standards that were unable to allow the two religions to coexist.  None were more divisive than the claim of being the restoration of the true church, which gave the Mormon leaders a sense of superiority.  Thus, this attitude superiority caused an unbridled assault to be launched against those in the historical Church of Jesus Christ. This is seen in the writings of the Book of Mormon:  

Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore whoso belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10) as cited on http://aomin.org/Quotations.html 

This is seen in their ecclesiastical officer’s writings:

Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the “whore of Babylon” whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. (Pratt, The Seer, p.255) as cited on http://aomin.org/Quotations.html

And,

After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christiandom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They belong to
Babylon. (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p.324) as cited on
http://aomin.org/Quotations.html

And from there inspired prophets:

 The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness. (Brigham Young, JD 5:73). as cited on http://aomin.org/Quotations.html

The animosity that is conveyed by the Mormon religions leaders towards orthodox Christianity is blatant in the quotations from their literature.  The clarity in the statements unequivocally declares the Mormon position on itself and other ecclesiastical bodies. o be a weakness within orthodox Christianity.   day tianity is blatant in the quotations from their literature.  Their criticism of denominational differences preys upon what many today consider a weakness within orthodox Christianity.  This appeal towards a unified church certainly appears to be a strength that the Mormon religion possesses.  Many Christians are frustrated by the apparent disunity with the Church and grow weary of hearing of congregations splitting over trivial reasons.  Since orthodox Christian Churches do not believe in apostolic succession, there is no claim to infallible interpretations, edicts or mandates that any individual may impose on other believers.  On the contrary, the leadership within the Church is made up of self proclaimed fallible individuals seeking to understand the truth of God’s Word to the best of their ability.  Therefore, there exist disagreements over non-essentials truths that divide people who for the most part are sincere in their positions (note that disagreements over essentials would qualify as unorthodox).  The hierarchy of the Mormon religion is much different and claims to possess access to divine revelation to settle disputes:

These leaders oversee the worldwide operation of the church.  The president, also called the Prophet, Seer and Revelator, succeeds to that office from being a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  The president chooses two counselors from this group to form the First Presidency of the church and names new members to the Quorom as openings occur.  These leaders are approved by the members in an open meeting, but they are not elected, as no other candidates compete.  The general authorities form a monolithic body; when the leaders speak, they speak as one, not as representatives of factions or points of view.  Any debate or discussion goes on behind the scenes….Mormons believe in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and that their church is a latter-day restoration of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  They consider themselves Christians, believing in continued revelation from God.  Mormons believe that the current president of the church communicates with the deity. Alan Wolfe (2003). The Transformation of American Religion How we Actually Live our Fatih”, New York: Free Press, 147-148 

This organizational structure makes it much more convenient to maintain unity, which can be imposed by officers that claim to possess an infallible source of revelation.  Although there are reports of examples where this power is abused for the most part there is a majority that supports the hierarchy with genuine respect:

One reason why Mormon worship practices so rarely arouse controversy is because they tend to be so positive toward the Church and its leaders.  Speaking of Joseph Smith, the church’s founder, one retired man in 1999, at a ward whose location has been kept confidential, says that ‘there’s never a time that I sit in a fast and testimony meeting…that I don’t think about how grateful I am for a young boy who wanted to know which church to join.’…These practical aspects of Mormonism make it especially attractive to switchers looking for a faith that can help them negotiate their way through a complicated world.  Claudia Lauper Bushman & Richard Lyman (1998).  Mormons in America, New York:  Oxford University Press, 119 

The unity within the Mormon religion imposed by its hierarchy, and the support and trust that exists amongst the laity is attractive to orthodox Christians.  The lack of organizational unity among orthodox Christians is a real lament among many.   The only familiar institution seen bearing real organizational unity is the Roman Catholic Church, which by most orthodox Christians is known to be outside of orthodoxy.  Thus, with Rome seen as a Church that has fallen away from orthodoxy it is no longer a viable option to achieve this coveted unity.  This falling away exposed during the Protestant Reformation is a familiar concept shared with the Mormon religion.  Thus, the foundation has already been laid to accept the idea that during the middle ages the Church did in fact fall away.  However, the Mormon religion contends that the Reformation did not go far enough in its reform of the Church and is apparent in its current state of disunity.  This can be a compelling case, especially for those with only a vague acquaintance of the doctrinal causes the Reformation was based on.  This limited knowledge of doctrine and biblical truth is common to the average orthodox Christian.  As noted above there is a trend among orthodox Christians that displays a lack of interest in emphasizing doctrine.   Thus, the likelihood of accepting the Mormon claim that the reforms during the Reformation were not enough and are evident in the lack of unity amongst orthodox Christian Churches is greater.  In fact, the modern emphasis of relationship and practical life enhancement common among orthodox Christians is also predominant in the Mormon religion.  Thus, when the Mormon missionary goes door to door and encounters an orthodox Christian they will share the same emphasis in message, the same concept of the Church needing to be restored, eagerness to have a unified Church and as seen in Principle 1 the belief that private revelation from God is available.  It is not surprising to expect Mormon’s to be successful in converting orthodox Christians with so much common ground.  Nothing is more practical than expecting God’s Church to be unified, which is a great selling point that Mormon’s stress when proselytizing.  In the next chapter the concept of unity within the Church and the possibility of a full scale apostasy will be explored.  However, first the final Principle explaining why the Mormon religion has realized success in converting orthodox Christians needs to be explored.    

Principle 3:  The strong emphasis on personal holiness and godly living are qualities that orthodox Christians desire.           

The Mormon religion is well known for having members that excel in personal holiness and godly living.  Most people are aware of the common ascetic disciplines, which set apart Mormon’s from other people.  This ascetic behavior includes abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, even caffeine drinks such as coke or coffee.  Probably the most notable is the Mormon missionary, who dedicates two years of his/her life to propagate the Mormon faith without any sponsors other than family.  Certainly, this behavior is externally prominent among Mormons and distinguishes them from average Americans, even average orthodox Christians.           

Although, godly living and personal holiness are commonly witnessed among the Mormon community it is not by accident.  The motivation to emulate this behavior finds its source in the Mormon understanding of soteriology.  As seen in the teachings from the Book of Mormon an emphasis on works salvation is promoted:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you (Moroni 10:32, Book of Mormon) as cited on http://aomin.org/LDSGrace.html.  Contrary to the orthodox Christian understanding of salvation, which asserts that God’s grace alone is sufficient, the Book of Mormon explicitly imposes conditions of godly living on the believer.  Rather than trusting in Christ alone for salvation a call to asceticism and personal holiness is made to the believer.  These commands are required of all Mormon believers who must earn everlasting life:

Grace consists of God’s gift to His children wherein He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him and comply with His laws and ordinances would have everlasting life.  (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp. 353-354) as cited on http://aomin.org/LDSGrace.html. 

And also explicitly stated here, 

As with all other doctrines of salvation, justification is available because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but it becomes operative in the life of an individual only on conditions of personal righteousness (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 408) as cited on http://aomin.org/LDSGrace.html (emphasis his) Thus, an incentive exists for individual Mormons to pursue good works and abstain from impure or irreligious things.  Otherwise, they run the risk of not attaining everlasting life.  This type of teaching is very common among unorthodox Christians and cults, which tend not to trust God’s ability to sanctify those who are saved by grace alone.  Rather they stress the need for men to prove they’re worthy of salvation and control their own destiny.  They would assert the orthodox belief allows a license to sin and promotes the notion of cheap grace.  Unfortunately, the behavior among orthodox Christians many times appears to justify this criticism.  It finds its source in the distorted understanding of grace that has plagued the Church for centuries known as antinomianism.  The term antinomianism comes from a Latin word that means anti – law or against the law.  Essentially, it advocates the error that once a person accepts Christ as Savior he is forgiven no matter what he does.  This includes totally ignoring and/or living a life contrary to God’s Law.  It suffices to say that this error does promote the idea of cheap grace.   However, it is not fair to suggest that most orthodox Christians engage in this error.  It is fair to suggest that some segments of orthodox Christianity have a tendency to come close to it.  Mormons are very aware of this weakness among professing Christians and voice their criticism of it.  As seen from this Mormon Leader:

 

Certain saved-by-grace-alone fanatics flatter their followers into believing they can be saved through no act other than confessing Christ with their lips (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 287) as cited on http://aomin.org/LDSGrace.html. 

There is some validity to the statement above, which will be addressed in the next chapter.  However, to reject the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is to reject the Gospel and proclaim something entirely different.  Nonetheless, there is criticism merited for those within orthodoxy who abuse the freedom that exists for those in Christ.  It certainly is frustrating for those within the Church when the behavior of its members is impossible to differentiate from those in the world.  On the other hand, those in the Mormon community with an incentive to perform good works are not easily confused with people in the world.  New converts who are seeking a visible religious experience are not disappointed if they turn to the Mormon religion:

The poor are attracted by the emphasis on family, clean living and a lay priesthood open to every “worthy” male.  “A Mormon Moment” by Kenneth Woodward, Newsweek September 2001 as quoted in http://www.lds-mormon.com/mormon_media.shtml       For those who are frustrated by worldly behavior within orthodox Christian Churches it may initiate the possibility of exploring the Mormon religion.  Certainly those whose faith is primarily based on experiential and pietistic standards find the Mormon religion, which is notably strong on these characteristics, as preferable.  It seems to be without objection, even among orthodox Christians, that the Mormon community has a reputation for excelling in observable godly behavior:   

Perhaps in consequence, no other denomination can so consistently parade the social virtues most Americans have come around to saying they admire. The Rev. Jeffrey Silliman, of the same Presbyterian group that made the heresy charge, admits that Mormons “have a high moral standard on chastity, fidelity, honesty and hard work, and that’s appealing.  “Kingdom Come” by David Van Biema, Time Magazine August 4, 1997 Vol. 150 No. 5 as cited in http://www.lds-mormon.com/time.shtml   It is an unfortunate state of affairs when a non-Christian cult is seen as more virtuous than orthodox Christian denominations in our culture.  However, as was noted previously in this chapter significant changes have occurred within orthodox Christianity.  It seems reasonable to suggest that if the statement quoted above had been made about the Church of 150 years ago, it would not have isolated the Mormon community as the most virtuous religious people.  Certainly orthodox Christians from that era and of previous eras were also more doctrinally astute.  The awareness of great biblical truths enhanced their pursuit of virtue and preserved their orthodoxy.  Nonetheless, circumstances have shifted and today’s trends have produced different results and different points of emphasis.  These shifts have also generated different responses to the Mormon religion, which has evolved in its own way.  Although, they have undergone shifts of their own the underlying premise of works salvation has not changed.  Thus, they have been able to preserve their image of being a virtuous people, which causes them to be appealing to seekers.  As a result, among the shifts and trends that have occurred, including the de-emphasis of doctrinal differences, the perception of Mormons has been improved:      

It was in the 1950s, says historian Jan Shipps, that the Mormons went from being ‘vilified’ to being “venerated,” and their combination of family orientation, clean-cut optimism, honesty and pleasant aggressiveness seems increasingly in demand.  “Kingdom Come” by David Van Biema, Time Magazine August 4, 1997 Vol. 150 No. 5 as cited in http://www.lds-mormon.com/time.shtml 

This shift in perception from ‘vilified’ to ‘veneration’ occurred just prior to the era when the Mormon religion realized its most rapid growth.  Since 1947 the Mormon membership has increased from 1 million to 11 million (http://www.mormon.org/learn/0,8672,967-1,00.html).  Certainly a large quantity of this number can be attributed to natural growth, child bearing and longer life expectancies.  Nonetheless, it still leaves a large quantity that can be attributed to converts.  Unfortunately, most of these converts have come from orthodox Christian denominations.  The reasons for this dramatic change will continue to be explored.  In the next chapter, however, this exploration will be conducted within the realm of Christian literature.

Responses

  1. I find a element is missing….and that is the influence of the Restoration Movement that was going on at that time. Alexander Campbell who was the father of the Church of Christ was just as much the father of the Mormon Church through Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdry. In fact…Alexander Campbell was indoctrinated in baptismal regeneration that came from Rome and into the Presbyterian Church. He tried to bring it into the Baptist Church but his duplicity was found out…and so he separated and founded the Church of Christ. Of course this is an over simplified geneology…it would take pages of documentation to show that the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is the unifying link from Romanism through the Protestant Reformation and into the American Restorationist Movement.

  2. Interesting, I know that the this era produced a lot of the problems we see today. I am not that familiar with the formation of the Church of Christ.

    Where have you studied this?

  3. In your article you say, “It is an unfortunate state of affairs when a non-Christian cult is seen as more virtuous than orthodox Christian denominations in our culture.” My question is why is it unfortunate when a group of people are making a concerted effort to live virtuous lives and recognized for it? Is it because they are “non-Christian” and therefore should not be recognized for any good they may do? I find your viewpoints narrow minded. God is no respecter of persons. Just because these people are striving to live their faith, it does not detract from another faith. I’m sure there are virtuous people in your church. Be of good cheer!

  4. Matt,

    Thank you for visiting and sharing a comment. This article was written over three years ago, so I definitely had to refresh my memory on the point you bring up.

    My point in the item you quoted was that it is lamentable that adherents of a false religion display more civic righteousness than those of the true religion. I have no problem with people seeking to live virtuous lives no matter what religion they subscribe to. So my answer to your question is; it is not unfortunate.

    You say:

    I find your viewpoints narrow minded. God is no respecter of persons. Just because these people are striving to live their faith, it does not detract from another faith.

    I don’t think that I ever stated that Mormonism in and of itself detracts from the Christian faith. I just think that they are wrong and it is sad that a Christian would be compelled to convert to this false religion.

    You say:

    I’m sure there are virtuous people in your church. Be of good cheer!

    Fortunately the good news is that true religion is not based upon those who live the most virtuous lives. Christ has fulfilled all the virtue that the Christian will ever need to attain. Thus, I am the first to admit that I and many other Christians are not very virtuous. We are sinners who need to be saved. That why we trust in Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world:

    https://msamudio.wordpress.com/2007/11/17/how-could-the-lamb-of-god-take-away-the-sin-of-the-world-lesson-4-question-6-answer/

  5. If orthodox christians are converting to your heretical religion it’s because they were never grounded in their own faith.

  6. Find this article fascinating

  7. Good day! This is my 1st comment here so I just
    wanted to give a quick shout out and say I really enjoy reading through your posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?
    Many thanks!

  8. I found your article to be clear and well-organized. I am a Mormon and I appreciate a good challenge to my faith, a faith that I freely admit can be daunting in its endless-though-largely-unspoken demands. I confess that I would like to be persuaded that I would be “just as okay” without “all this buttoning and unbuttoning.” I like to demure that I’m a Mary rather than a Martha, but I fear that I might just have a lazy spirit… It is my conviction that Mormons are called rather than convinced, and though the called can fail, they fail on their own and can’t be un-convinced from their calling. However, if conviction doesn’t preceed calling–as it might for those “born into” the Mormon faith,–it must follow if one who is called is to take root and thrive… So, what of those Mormons, “born” or “converted,” who aren’t called? They usually remain on board, for several reasons: the genuine loving warmth, the fear of alienation from family and friends, or they just like the structure, like a cathedral of ideals. Most Mormons fret over anyone who “drops out,” or at least, they believe we should fret over them. I love them, I hope they can find their way back, and I do what I can to help them, but I don’t worry about them. I think they’ll be just fine, as will you. Being called is not being better, it’s just being called. His grace is sufficient for all of us who seek after Him, and the laborer is worthy of his wages. He is truly not a respecter of persons… I think those of us who are called are becoming more accepting of the reality that convincing is increasingly out of reach in the self-important age that we live in and that you have so clearly described. Like John the Baptist, Joseph Smith was a little weird, and like Peter, he made some mistakes; he is a hard sell. I know that he was a great prophet who restored the fullness of the gospel, but I know this largely because I was called. You don’t, you weren’t. I apologize for the obvious affront; I accept the disdain it garners me… Still, our difference cannot justify either of us in failing to strive to love each other as Christ loves us. Thank you for your sincere concern for my spiritual well-being. Thank you for the thoughtful effort you made towards this end. I can testify that your example of Christ-like loving concern has brought me closer to Our Savior. I write this in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen


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