Monday, April 30, 2007

Mormonism and Christianity

The Mormons are getting some highbrow publicity today and tomorrow in a PBS documentary. Mormons use the name Jesus Christ in their official name "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," but their doctrines are light years away from orthodox Christianity. I got a hint of their beliefs about Jesus when a friend was given tickets to the newest temple located across from Lincoln Center in New York. Before the temple was consecrated tours were offered, and I was invited to go. They showed a video about Mormonism before you went on the tour and I was fascinated to hear them refer to Jesus not as the Son of God, nor the second person of the Holy Trinity, but as "our Exemplar." In other words, Jesus is not a Savior because of his atoning death, rather he is a model for our behavior. Mormonism is a religion of works, not of grace, and has no relation to the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.

Mormonism has a lot of strange doctrines and practices, but it has found a place in America and overseas, and is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate is a Mormon, as is Democrat Harry Reid. Mormonism is attempting to go mainstream. One must respect Mormonism's stance on a variety of issues such as abortion and the sanctity of marriage, but despite its best efforts, it remains a serious distortion of the Christian faith. It is based on dubious foundations, and seduces people away from biblical Christianity.

I believe Mormonism is flourishing because orthodox Protestantism has abandoned its doctrinal and moral foundations. People are looking for certainty and many have found it in the beautifully strange beliefs of Joseph Smith. Another reason for its success is its evangelistic emphasis. When was the last time you saw Reformed Christians going door to door to spread the gospel? We have lost our missionary fervor, and the Mormons are filling that vacuum. We need to recapture what the Mormons now possess - certainty about our beliefs, and a desire to share them with others.


Blogger Peter said...

Amen! They have just built an enormous LDS Church a few blocks from me, and the young men in white shirts are swarming the area.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Rileysowner said...

Recently I was talking to someone who said, "Door to door evangelism doesn't work anymore." I guess the growth of the Mormons proves that is not necessarily true.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Can door to door work in the US? Yeah, I guess it can. In the eighties, the pastor of our church went from house to house, throughout the neighborhood during one year. One person came to church, and she became an integral part. Something fo another hand, I have always hated people coming to my door: I find it an intrusion. When I am home, I don't want people come to my door to sell me anything, whether it be pron or God. One of my current ministerial friends has been going door to door in his neighborhood, and I do believe there has been a person or two to darken his door. It my church, the vocal view is that it is the minister's "job" to go door to door to get people with money to attend the church and give. If I seem to be going back and forth, it's because I am. While the Bible certainly has people going out to preach the Gospel (is that the same as knocking on doors?), it seems to me, historically, that the church grows primarily through the inexplicable Work of the Holy Spirit, and secondarily, perhaps as a first cause of the First Cause, through the church having babies. Our conflict, perhaps I should blog on this on my blog, is that "church growth" is being sought primarily to the end of financial stability, NOT for the salvation of souls. I have told our people, I could fill our pews, if we provided drugs and prostitutes. But, then, they probably wouldn't have the money we want to keep our church open. One last word, I have a friend in ministry whohas changed to a contemporary service, with a praise band, etc., yet, with, to the extent I have observed it, biblical and reformed preaching, and he recently told me that the little kids like the worship service and come, and forties and fifties come, but the teenagers HATE (his word) the contemporary service. OK, someone else's turn...

6:17 AM  
Blogger homo unius libri said...

Peter, If its only money they care about - sell the drugs and pimp the prostitutes! Seriously, I agree with you that the primary purpose in most church growth is money, monuments and membership rolls.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Rileysowner said...

Peter, if it is money they want get licensed to sell liquor and have dancing girls with big screens showing the hots sports games and that will fill the coffers with coin.

Of course then you might want to change the name to Second Reformed Bar and Grill.

While I agree with not liking people coming to my door, more and more I am thinking that I am wrong about feeling that way. It is an aspect of the individualism of our times. My home is my refuge away from everyone else. But, is that necessarily what it should be? I don't know, but I was listening to a person preaching a while back and he brought that up. I am still working through it in my mind.

As for going door to door, I will only do so if others in the congregation join me. There are a few who probably will. I look at is more as an opportunity to start to get to know some people so the gospel can be proclaimed.

Now street preaching, that is something I have been thinking about more and more lately. I'm just not sure how to or where to do it.

12:57 AM  

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