Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

The Evangelical Self-Destruction

Posted by Adam Graham on May 11, 2007

I’m a fervent opponent of the nomination of Mitt Romney for the Presidency of the United States on the Republican side. Romney’s multiple flip flops right before running for president paint a portrait of a man who will say whatever it takes to get elected. In fact, I’m doing my best on the behalf of Governor Romney’s opponents.

I’m an Evangelical and I disagree strongly with official LDS Church views of theology, salvation, and scripture. Having said that, I’ve been disgusted by the statements of many in opposition to Mitt Romney because of his Mormon faith.

In 21st Century America, there exists people who look at Mitt Romney and see “the Mormon” and their arguments against his campaign run no deeper than his religious beliefs. This is troubling and dangerous for many reasons.

It is troubling on the first account, because the attacks show none of the love nor charity that Christ commanded. Indeed, the attacks have been based on fear, particularly the fear that having a Mormon in the White House will create new Mormon converts. As I’m sure you remember, thanks to JFK being elected, the entire country converted to Roman Catholicism and under President Bush everyone has become a Methodist. Oh wait, Americans pretty much keep their own religion, regardless of what faith the President adheres to, but I guess all that will change with a Mormon in the White House.

The second point is that this is a good way to create tension for Evangelicals living in areas with large LDS populations. From Idaho, I have a message to folks in Alabama, some of us live in areas where we see Mormons somewhere other than on HBO. Mormons and Evangelicals share many issues of common cultural concern, and over the years have been allies in key issues like the pro-life fight, the defense and the struggle to keep God in the public square. As has been the case with many Orthodox and Conservative Jews, we have been able to put aside our disagreements in the name of advancing the best interests of our community. That type of coalition is threatened with prejudice.

Third, it denies a basic American principle of fairness. The mass of people who are opposing Mitt Romney for his Mormonism alone, have no problem with Mormons enlisting and going off to fight their wars. They have no problem with Mormons being the police officers that protect their lives from criminals. But a Mormon actually serving as President is too much for them.

When one looks at a candidate for office, you don’t need to agree with his religious faith, but rather their governing philosophy. In Montana, there’s a man who is unabashedly pro-life. He has fought for lower taxes, less government, and to change that state’s monstrous Supreme Court. He had a positive view of public acknowledgments of God His brother was my mother’s doctor and traveled hundreds of miles to testify for pro-life legislation. Both this man (Rob Natelson) and his brother were Jewish. I supported Mr. Natelson when he ran for Governor, because what mattered most were his policies and his understanding of the role of government. That far exceeded the Protestants he ran against in 1996 and 2000.

In 2000, after all the pundits had declared the Presidential Primaries over, Utahans gave Alan Keyes his largest vote percentage anywhere in the country (23%.) They saw beyond his religion to the man he was and the principles they shared. They considered the merits, and that is what we should judge Romney on as well.

Finally, all Evangelicals should be disturbed by the idea that theological beliefs that will not affect a candidate’s ability to govern are matters for which we should disqualify candidates for office. While many conservative Christians back disqualifying Romney for his Mormonism alone, so do liberals like Slate’s Jacob Weisberg, who wrote that what made Mormonism different from mainstream Judaism and Christianity is that “the world’s greater religions have had time to splinter, moderate, and turn their myths into metaphor.” Thus, those who believe the seminal tenets of Christianity (i.e. the Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, etc.) will find themselves getting the same treatment being dished out to Romney. While according to a recent poll, 37% would not vote for a Mormon President, 21% would not vote for an Evangelical.

Imagine a campaign where an Evangelical Candidate is brought under fire by the media and constantly asked if they believe in the truth of John 14: 6 (Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the father but by him), do they really believe in the Virgin Birth, do they really believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead? If so, they will be declared utterly irrational and unqualified for office by the same people with whom those attacking Romney’s Mormonism find themselves in agreement. Believe me, a belief that Jesus is the only way to Heaven will be far more controversial than the LDS three-tiered after-life where nearly everyone makes it to Heaven in some form, save the most wicked.

Conclusion

America is a unique nation. From the beginning, we have acknowledged God as the guarantor of our rights, and even the most impious of the Founders knew that we needed His guidance and care. Yet, at the same time, we have practiced religious toleration, leaving each man to work out his “own salvation with fair and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)

Certainly, there are forums to debate the merits of Mormonism. The Presidential election is not one. When I look at Mitt Romney, I see a man I can’t trust because I don’t believe he has a core. I see a power lust that is present in men who profess all kinds of faiths, and no faith at all, that leads him to say what he thinks will benefit him at the moment. Maybe others will see something else. Whatever we see, hopefully when we look at Mitt Romney as a candidate, we’ll judge him not on Mormonism, but on merit.

,

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4 Responses to “The Evangelical Self-Destruction”

  1. Nowhere [Visitor] said

    The problem is, that unless you’ve been a faithful latterday saint, you do not understand that you will do LITERALLY anything the prophet asks you to do, including Lie, Cheat, or Steal.

    The church flagrantly violates its own tenets, including the need to obey the law; ignoring those laws, even to this day that do not suit it unless they believe they will be exposed for their actions.

    It is not bigotry to point out the simple fact that LDS people believe that the prophet cannot lead them astray, because if he did, he would be struck dead.

    Where in the bible does it say that a prophet who says something that the Lord doesn’t want him to say will die? Did Moses die when he struck the rock? He did not.

    Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints have been conditioned from birth to obey. To obey. To obey. To obey.

  2. Adam,
    I really appreciate this post.

    Nowehere,
    I actually am a faithful member of the LDS Church, and nothing you wrote there applies to me. So which is more likely — you don’t know what you’re talking about, or I don’t know what I have to do to be a faithful member of my religion? The 12th Article of Faith states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” The Church President would look silly trying to pull that one over on us by telling us to break a law.

    And in answer to your first question, I recommend Deuteronomy 18:20: “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.”
    (And here’s another thing — Why would Jehovah mention other gods if there weren’t any? Same thing in the 10 Commandments — would he have said “Thou shalt know there are no other Gods” if that’s what he meant, rather than having no other gods before him?

  3. Adam Graham [Member] said

    First of all, let’s be clear that if people try and turn this into a Mormon-Evangelical debate thread, I’ll close the comments. I really don’t want to go there. There are blogs for that, this ain’t one of them

    However, I’ve got to respond to a few things. This comment goes to Nowhere. It sounds like you’ve had a rough experience of some sort.

    I have to say that by your reasoning, you’d be saying we have to be wary of faithful Roman Catholics, because the Pope is considered infallible in matters of doctrine. In fact, this all could have come out of Jack Chick tract on Catholicism and I think it’s absurd to suggest that Mormons should be disqualified as President. Do you think they shouldn’t serve in the Army because the Prophet could order everyone to join Al Qaeda? Even if a Mormon President had any inklings that way, I think the 96-97% of the Congress that isn’t Mormon would have a thing or two to say about that.

  4. Adam Graham [Member] said

    Bubbs,

    I’m not going to get into a debate on this on the main points of the truth of Joseph Smith as a prophet, only to your points regarding the evidence you used. The Bible, being important, whenever it is used here, I insist on context.

    Regarding prophets, you wrote:

    And in answer to your first question, I recommend Deuteronomy 18:20: “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.”

    Well, a couple things to look at here. If we apply this literally, than every prophet has been false save those who haven’t died.

    If we say that it means immediately, than we’ve got to face the fact that Mohammad lived a pretty long life and claimed to have the final revelation, which I would assume the LDS church would disagree with.

    My thing is you have to look at scripture in context and here that means the Holy Bible, and we take a look at Ezekiel 18:4 and 18:20 where it says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Same word in English and it’s also the same word in Hebrew used. Does that mean that the moment you and I sin we die a physical death? No.

    Take a look at Genesis 2:17:

    But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

    Did they physically die that day? No. But there’s another death that’s spiritual. The book of Revelations 21:8:

    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the SECOND DEATH.

    This is a warning to the false prophet of what will happen. What is the test for us to look for? It’s actually answered directly in Deut. 18:21 and 22:

    And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken ?

    When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

    So the test is not whether the prophet dies, because the prophet could be around to test the people (Deut. 13) The test of the prophet is whether what they say comes to past, not whether they keel over.

    (And here’s another thing — Why would Jehovah mention other gods if there weren’t any? Same thing in the 10 Commandments — would he have said “Thou shalt know there are no other Gods” if that’s what he meant, rather than having no other gods before him?

    Let’s take a look at Joshua 24:16:

    And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

    So, by this text, is Joshua saying the gods of Caanaan are real? Because that’s what’s being talked about. I don’t think he does.

    The commandment is against Idolatry. The commandment is not about who God is, but about the duty of his people.

    In Deut. 4:27, 28, the text refers to Gods who are stone and wood:

    And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you.

    And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.

    It’s very clear in Deuteronomy and these gods are not real (they neither see, hear, eat, or smell) but he calls them gods. Again in Jeremiah 5:7 God says:

    How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no GODS:

    In the same Chapter in Verse 19, he refers to them as “strange Gods.” So the term “gods” is not reserved for true Gods, it can also be used for false Gods and this is the usual use of the term.

    Does not mean your supposition is wrong, but the scripture you cited doesn’t prove what you’re saying. However, like I said, I don’t want to debate this here, because this isn’t what the thread’s really about.

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