Christian Salvation is Not Visible to the Naked Eye

And therefore, inter alia¸ Mormonism is not a valid form of Christianity, despite its apparent Christian piety and manifest virtues. But Mormonism as a cultural phenomenon, rather than just a religious system, is a net positive for America.

.

This post is largely a response to Dr. Bruce Charlton’s position that Mormonism is a valid form of Christianity, and that we can know it because of Mormonism’s success in inculcating personal piety toward Jesus Christ, healthy families with far-above-replacement-level fertility, and a well-ordered society. Along with Mormon self-identification as being Christian.

Of course, this is not just about Mormonism. There are many groups calling themselves Christian who are of questionable status. I suggest below that there is a way to determine their validity that is relatively simple and that does not diminish the group any more than is necessary in order to maintain our integrity as Christians.

Dr. Charlton has, I believe, made it clear that he does not wish to discuss this issue theologically, and I am therefore raising it here at Orthosphere. I don’t raise this topic to badmouth him, for I have great respect for Dr. Charlton. On most topics his writings show great insight and originality.

.

Here’s my basic point: The sine qua non, the indispensible element, of Christianity is the forgiveness of our sins by our repentance and faith in Christ. And this forgiveness, this salvation, is unlike outward piety and healthy individuals, families, and societies because it is not visible to the naked eye. We must therefore trust what God says in Scripture about how He forgives us, and not be misled by that which is externally appealing.

.

And the faith in Christ that is necessary for salvation includes—but is not limited to—accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ. For example, Jesus says in John 8:24:

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Here, Jesus links belief in a specific fact about Himself with salvation. This places Mormonism outside the pale of orthodoxy, for it clearly teaches a different Jesus.

The Mormon Jesus, for example, is not Jehovah, but a different being, the “spirit brother of Lucifer.” God the father, in Mormonism, is not eternal spirit, but an exalted man. And there is only one Mormon god for Earth, but each planet has its own god, making Mormonism polytheistic, not monotheistic.

.

Some argue that these distinctions are not important because they are theological speculations about transcendent reality. But Christian salvation requires faith, which means trust based on accurate knowledge that is believed. Mormonism does not trust the Bible and Christian tradition when they say (among other assertions) that Jesus is God, that God is Spirit, and that there is only one true God. This is not just a matter of wrong ideas, but sinful lack of belief. Joseph Smith sinfully refused to believe the Bible and Christian tradition on many important points, and the church he founded follows his lead.

Can we identify a minimum of what you have to believe in order to be saved? Not in a legalistic sense. Faith is trust, not a checklist of theological propositions. Some religious bodies actively reject the truth about Christ, replacing it with their own man-made tradition, and it is lack of trust rather than a list of specific disbelieved doctrines that ultimately shows their un-Christian nature.

At the same time, of course, a valid Christian church has to draw up a list of important truths that her members should believe. Christians need to know how to spot a counterfeit.

.

Note that since our salvation is only by repentance and faith in Christ, Satan’s ultimate designs are served just as well by outward piety and order as by obviously sinful behavior, if the piety and order are not accompanied by genuine faith in Christ. People can participate in an orderly and apparently-pious society, only to end up damned because their sins were not forgiven because they did not have faith in the real Christ. Scripture itself warns us not be taken in by false Christs and false gospels and therefore we know that such counterfeits of Christianity do exist. And Mormonism is one of them.

.

This is not to say that personal piety and virtue are irrelevant to our judgment of whether an individual is Christian. Christian salvation always shows some fruits, and therefore the one in whom you see no fruits of repentance is probably not Christian. [Note the wording: “in whom you see…” The Christian always has some fruits, but you may not see them.] And personal holiness is an important way Christians draw unbelievers to want to hear about Christ.

But personal holiness is not Christian salvation, and counterfeits of Christianity abound. Christian salvation is through repentance and faith in Christ, with faith being accurate knowledge of Christ, agreement with the knowledge, and trust that the One who is known will save you from your sins. It is not enough to think of yourself as a Christian, or to display apparently-Christian piety, or to be personally virtuous, or to participate in a well-ordered religion or civil society that is known as being Christian.

We can admire the Mormons for the virtues they do possess: religious piety, large and healthy families, a generally clean and well-ordered society, relative immunity to the ugliness and perversions of liberalism, and so on. These are all real goods, and are to be admired and emulated when possible

But the conditional statement “If Christian salvation, then fruits” cannot be reversed. The converse, “If fruits, then Christian salvation,” is not valid. Mormonism misses the mark.

About these ads

104 thoughts on “Christian Salvation is Not Visible to the Naked Eye

  1. If what it means to be Christian is that we try to live moral lives, then many a pagan qualifies. If what it means to be Christian is that we try to make the world a better place, then many a pagan qualifies. Both breed self-righteousness. Mormonism does both.

    “My kingdom is not of this world.” Yet like the first disciples, most of us wish we can make our heaven here, whether it be a liberal utopia or a traditionalist conservative refulgence, or at the least, a restoration of even a semblance of constitutionalism.

    No. Mormons are not Christian any more than today’s liberal churches can claim to be Christian; for neither of them will permit themselves to be judged by God’s Holy Word. In so far as they chip away at the inerrancy of Scripture and substitute their own good deeds — in the place of Christ’s perfect life — as meriting their own salvation, they are lost.

  2. The Mormon Jesus, for example, is not Jehovah, but a different being, the “spirit brother of Lucifer.”

    This is a very common misconception. Actually, the Mormon Jesus is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. It is the Mormon “God the Father” (called Elohim or Ahman) who is a different being. This is of course problematic from a biblical point of view, since Jehovah is the one who commanded, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

    The “spirit brother of Lucifer” thing, while technically correct, is misleading, since non-Mormons will generally assume it to mean that Jesus and Lucifer are in some sense “kindred spirits,” that they have similar spiritual qualities or think in the same way. This would be a gross misinterpretation of Mormonism, which holds, like every other Christian denomination, that Lucifer is the devil, the irreconcilable enemy of Christ, from whom he differs in every way. When Mormons say “spirit brother,” they mean it literally — yes, literally, meaning that spirits reproduce sexually and that Jehovah/Jesus and Lucifer/Satan have the same father, viz., Elohim. Despite the use of the word “spirit,” this relationship is of no more spiritual significance than is the fact that Cain and Abel were brothers. Nor is there anything special about the Jesus-Lucifer relationship. Mormons believe that Jesus, Lucifer, all the angels and demons, and all human beings are all spiritual siblings, the literal offspring of Elohim. Mormons rarely if ever refer specifically to the common paternity of Jesus and Lucifer; it is merely implied by the doctrine that God is the father of all. Anti-Mormons pick up on their implied brotherhood and present it out of context, knowing that it will be misinterpreted in a creepy Charles-Manson-esque way but that Mormons cannot deny it.

      • Baloney. “The Mormon Jesus” is the only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and buried, descended into hell, rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. How is that a “different being”?

        Mormons may differ from other Christians on some points of Christology, but that hardly amounts to worshiping “a different Jesus.” Do the Eastern Orthodox churches worship a different being because “the Orthodox Jesus” is a being from whom the Holy Spirit does not proceed?

        Good grief, even an atheist who accepts not a single point of your creed could discuss the historical Jesus of Nazareth, and you would presumably accept that he was referring to the same man who founded your religion and whom you worship, although he believed very different things about him. (Otherwise it would be no sin for an atheist to blaspheme Jesus, since the target of his scorn would be a totally different being unrelated to the actual Son of God.)

        I am not denying that Mormonism is heretical, nor that its differences from credal Christianity run very deep and are of the utmost theological importance — but the identity of the Jesus Christ they worship simply is not one of those differences. If faith in Christ is all that is required for salvation, Mormons are salvable. If you are unwilling to accept that Mormonism is a path to salvation, then faith in Christ must not be the only needful thing.

      • Your comments here are very strange. The Mormon description of Jesus is that he is the physical offspring of a being who was once a human being, but was exalted to godhood over the Earth. And you say that this Jesus is the same being as the one described in the Bible, who is not the physical offspring of an exalted human being.

        Yes, Mormons use much of the same terminology as biblical Christians, but they usually invest these words with different meanings. And different meanings define different beings.

        The Bible repeatedly describes counterfeit Christs and gospels, and warns us not be fooled by them.

        The Orthodox churches with their denial of the filioque clause are in no way analogous to Mormonism. Mormonism radically redefines almost all of the basic concepts of Christianity, whereas (capital-O) Orthodoxy accepts the basic biblical framework.

        You also said

        If faith in Christ is all that is required for salvation, Mormons are salvable.

        Saying they have faith in Christ is one thing. Actually having faith, meaning accurate knowledge of Christ and trusting in the one who is accurately known is something entirely different.

      • I worship Jesus too, except I worship him because he pissed off the jews and the Romans and his church works for civilization, that’s all. Everything else is a bunch of junk and I read the Jefferson Bible and listen to lots of Bob Marley. Am I saved?

      • Are you saved? That depends. Being saved means having God forgive your sins on account of your repentance and faith in Christ. Do you acknowledge that the Bible teaches that, like all of us, you are a sinner under God’s condemnation, and that you need a Savior?

      • Faith does not mean “accurate knowledge.” It means trust. That’s why Christ said little children are capable of it. Many, many devout Christians, past and present, have had very little accurate knowledge about Christ and may well have thought of God as an old man with a beard who lives in the sky, which is pretty much what Mormonism teaches.

      • You shouldn’t put too much stock in unusual cases. Trust by itself is not a virtue, it depends on the one you trust. Little children and others who are not in a position to know by their own efforts rely on their parents, so accurate knowledge of Christ is ultimately required.

      • Mssrs. Roebuck and Jas, this is a broader problem of reference. Is the “Mormon Jesus” the same as Jesus? Is the intended object of any deficient understanding of the Christ the same as Jesus? It’s a similar question to whether the Islamic God is the same as the Christian God. I found Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics helpful in this matter. I remember reading a section on knowledge, opinion, and error, where the Philosopher uses the example of a geometrician’s and an ignorant man’s approach to the hypotenus of a right angle. The geometer knows the Pythogorean relationship in such a triangle, whereas the ignorant man does not. As such, each man would understand the hypotenus differently. In a way, they do not intend the same object. The object of the geometer is the real hypotenus, while the object of the ignorant man is a faulty opinion. However, that faulty opinion does have some relationship to the real object. His poor understanding of the hypotenus is not a skewed vision of the workers in the Agora, Athena, or Chuckles the cat. I find this helpful in the “Mormon Jesus” discussion. In a sense, Mormons refer to Jesus when they speak about Jesus, though their understanding of him is perverse, just as the Mujahideen refer to Jesus when they conceive of him as their prophet or as the hippies think of him as a proto-radical social revolutionary (Occupy Cardo Maximus!). The ultimate object of their mind is Jesus the Word, though their glass is murky, indeed. Whose isn’t?

    • Not exactly. A false religion can still contain some true Christians, if their faith is better than the teachings of their church.

  3. Yes, there is something seriously wierd in this claim that Jehovah=Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, but there is yet another God above him, “God the Father”. And specially nasty that each planet has a God, which would lead to polytheism in a remote future. And those unorthodox additions are the reason why I excluded mormonism when choosing which church to attend when converting from atheism.

    But isn’t it true that many historical and current sects of Christianity do make other claims which are even worse from a traditional Christian point of view, and despite that have always been considered Christians? Consider the Arianism for example, it completely denies that Jesus is God … and the Jeowah Witnesses make similar claims to arianism, they deny the trinity, and they have much worse fruits than the Mormons IMHO (less children, the blood transfusion issue, they think that countries, armies and borders should not exist, they don’t think other groups are christian, etc, etc).

    And what about Christians that think that Jesus is God, but he was also a hippie, he is only about love, non-judgementalism, liberalism, etc, and they couldn’t care less about what the bible says or what christians from the past thought. To me these are far, far worse than mormons, for at least mormons have good fruits, but liberals are a rotten cancer killing our civilization.

    So summing up I’d prefer mormons to any of those other groups. From what I know mormons are not agressive against traditional christians, and even try to fit as a “conservative” sub-group, which is more than what I can say about … well pretty much the majority of the planet would like to see us dead by now. From the communists to muslims to black-power groups to liberals to libertarians (most libertarians think we are the christian taliban).

    Plus, Jesus said: “those that are not against us are for us”. I think that the focus on differences naturally leads us to such claims such as “group X, despite being our allies, they are not Christians”, but we forget everything we have in common in doing so. And also, here comes the nasty thing, I hope you are aware that many calvinists think that Catholics are not Christians. And they have a list of reasons for this.

    So in the end to me it looks ridiculous that multiple groups of people that are natural allies are excomunicating each other at the same time that the enemy is knowing on our doors to have our heads on a plate. And our list of allies is not very long I tell you…

    • I was not “excommunicating” potential Mormon allies. We can still make common sociopolitical cause with them. I was only identifying them as not Christian.

    • Indeed, the Mohammedans are theologically closer to Christianity than the Mormons. For the Mohammedans understand God as the transcendent, ultimate source of being, whereas the Mormons revert to a pagan understanding of God as merely a god — another particular being like you or me who happens to be far more powerful and historically important in the formation and direction of this world (understood locally, not the cosmos).

      So, are Mormons Christians? I’m fine with classifying them as heretical Christians, but I would say the same about Mohammedans, Creflo Dollar prosperity Protestants, Unitarians, Marxist atheists, Pentecostal holy rollers, gnostic Scientologists, and old school fire and brimstone Presbyterians — not to mention the Methodists (oh no, not the Methodists!). Their heresies are matters of degree, it seems, and I cannot see a non-arbitrary boundary of where to distinguish perversions of the Gospel as “heretical Christian” from those that cease to be Christian.

      A similar problem exists for orthodoxy. When does a false theologoumenon become a heretical opinion? I think that is why holding heretical beliefs does not make one a heretic. Rather, persisting in such rebellion when one is instructed otherwise by the Church is what makes one a heretic. Heresy then seems to be more a matter of ecclesiology than personal theological opinion. The demarcation of orthodoxy is the Church (and then where is the Church — does our quest ever end? But that would be thread-jacking!). I have a friend who likes to say that human beings are rational in the species, but not always (often?) in the individual. Similarly, proper theology is a concern for the Church — we cannot expect every pious Christian to understand, much less to articulate well, all the doctrines of the faith. However, such folks can be in the right ship, which has the proper sails, hull, and seamanship to get them through the turbulent waters.

      This is perhaps why Carlton goes astray with the Mormons. As a disenchanted Anglican, whose fleet has long been lost at sea, he wants to revert to Lewis’ (another Anglican) “Mere Christianity,” hoping that simple personal piety will function as a lifesaver for one. Carlton notes that little of the daily life of piety has to do with correct theology, and he thus reckons that the Mormons, who appear quite pious in their own way, are good members of the Body of Christ. I would counter that theology (and philosophy) does have a “trickle down effect,” even to the most basic and thoughtless of daily activities. If Mormons exemplify healthy tendencies in living, it is because they hold good opinions about human nature. I wonder, however, if the transforming sanctity of a saint has ever occurred in a Mormon. Was there ever a Mormon Seraphim of Sarov or Francis of Assisi? I doubt it. Mormonism is a workable Christian heresy that has enough good sense to work for a society just as enlightened paganism has undergirt many fine civilizations. But the ocean is too big for a lifesaver to save us. I fear that Dr. Carlton comes close to the Grand Inquisitor’s reasoning in justifying a counterfeit Christ because such works well enough for the masses who cannot hope for theosis.

      • …persisting in such rebellion when one is instructed otherwise by the Church is what makes one a heretic.

        I would say “..instructed otherwise by the Bible,” which, being God’s Word, is the highest tangible authority. Other than that, I agree. The content of heresy, though important, is less important than the sinful attitude that refuses to be corrected by the Word of God.

      • I cannot see a non-arbitrary boundary of where to distinguish perversions of the Gospel as “heretical Christian” from those that cease to be Christian.

        Alan Roebuck, Joseph’s is the question that needs to be answered. No document can have authority, without an authoritative interpreter of that document. Authority implies hierarchy. No book, however inspired, however divine, can possibly have authority in itself. It is a simple abuse of language to say otherwise.

        You say that Mormon theology is well outside the bounds of anything historically considered Christian. I agree with you. I agree with you in spades–because I recognize human authorities to have the final word in saying what is “Christian” and what is not. The trouble is you do not recognize the existence of such an authority, and thereby saw off the branch you’re sitting on, and fall into the trap that the Mormons themselves are in. You say God’s Word says “A”, and the Mormon’s say it says “Z”. Who is to arbitrate the mere opinions of men? Whom do we interrogate? Who will tell us if our interpretation of his answer is correct?

      • Steve,

        The question of religious authority, important though it be, is not very relevant here. You’re trying to make things more complicated than they are.

        This is not a question of whose interpretation of the Bible is the correct one, because Mormonism has other scriptures. You do not need to answer the question of how we know which interpretation of the Bible is the correct one in order to know that the Book of Mormon and the other Mormon scriptures contradict the Bible. You do not need to know which is the highest religious authority to know that “God is an exalted human being” is different from “God is Spirit.”

        That said, you are wrong in what you say about religious authority. You say

        No document can have authority, without an authoritative interpreter of that document.

        That would be correct if God were not the Author of Scripture. Since He is, Scripture has authority regardless of what the human authorities say.

        If you are a typical Catholic polemicist, your next question will be “So how do we know that the Bible is God’s Word unless our Organization tells us?”

        If that is what you say, you are thinking erroneously. For one thing, if God really is the Author of Scripture, then Scripture has authority independently of what Rome says. God is higher than Rome.

        For another thing, if we know the Bible is the words of God rather than the words of man because Rome tells us, then this answer is useless we know why Rome is to be trusted. What authority will tell us that Rome has authority?

        Catholic apologists say that Rome is like a king or a legislature, having a primary authority to declare truths. But the church is not like a legislature, because God has a higher authority. Instead, the church is like a scientist, testifying to a higher truth that he did not create, and giving evidence to those who are skeptical.

  4. “To the illiterate the Scriptures are unknown ; there remain the church service and a few prayers, which, transmitted from parents to children, serve as the only link between the Church and its flock. It is known that in some remote districts the congregation understands nothing of the words of the service, or even of the Lord’s Prayer, which is repeated often with omissions and additions which deprive it of all meaning.

    Nevertheless, in all these untutored minds has been raised, as in Athens, one knows not by whom, an altar to the Unknown God ; to all, the intervention of Providence in human affairs is a fact so indisputable, so firmly rooted in conscience, that when death arrives these men, to whom none ever spoke of God, open their doors to Him as a well-known and long-awaited guest. Thus, in the literal sense, they give their souls to God.”

  5. I believe that Mormonism is one of the cleverest and most dangerous counterfeits of Biblical Christianity that has ever troubled the world and its inhabitants. It is nothing other than a figment of Joseph Smith’s imagination. It has another Jesus and another gospel. Its fruit is entirely corrupt, think of the Mark Hoffman murders and the murders among polygamous Mormons such as Ervil LeBaron. Joseph Smith was a liar, an adulterer and a teller of tall tales, and we are to believe he was a prophet ! Mormonism cannot be reformed, it is a heretical cult and it is time it was described as such (which it was before some foolish Evangelicals decided to “bring it in from the cold”.)

    • I agree with you in substance, but there is no need to use such harsh language. Mormonism’s fruit is not entirely corrupt. What is wrong with Mormonism is not the sins and character faults of its members (for all men are sinners), but its false gospel that leads many astray.

  6. I tend towards the Mormons aren’t Christians position. An essential and distinctive part of their religion is the Book or Mormon along with their other scriptures. Since I believe the BoM and the idea that Joseph Smith is a latter-day profit are lies, it follows that their religion is founded on lies.
    Baptists, for example, are about as far away from my theology as you can get but their religion is based on something true (the Gospels). I think they have an incomplete understanding of the Gospels but their religion is not based on lies.

  7. Since all protestant denominations rely on their own widely different private interpretations of the Bible how can any of them claim to know the truth or that their particular interpretation is correct? Furthermore, there are many differing translations of the Bible itself being used so who is to say which translation is accurate?

    Look at the confusion Protestantism has created. So this is the work of the Holy Ghost?

    The Catholic Church is the church established by Christ and within is found salvation.

      • Not at all thread-jacking nor is that intended. The topic is whether Mormonism is a valid expression of Christianity. My comment is addressing by what standards is this evaluation made and are those standards sound. I believe this is relevant to the discussion.

    • And the reason we know Mormonism is not valid Christianity is because it does not conform to the authoritative teachings of the Council of Trent (or any other Council). So what is the minimum number or set of “ecumenical” councils to which a purportedly Christian sect must conform in order to be validly Christian? And what “ecumenical” council defined that number or set?

      • Exactly right, Steve. Mormonism is just a logical extension of Protestantism. If it is all just private interpretation guided by the holy spirit, then why was it okay for Martin Luther to throw out the entire deuterocanon, but not okay for Joseph Smith to deny the Trinity? Where is the line drawn?

        If the Protestants are right, then the Church could get it wrong on many of the fundamentals of the faith and at any point in time. So if they got it wrong on the Deuterocanon for 1500+ years, why couldn’t they have also gotten wrong on the Trinity for 1932+ years? Indeed, as some of my liberal Protestant friends believe, couldn’t the Church have gotten the moral status of homosexuality wrong for 2060+ years?

        If Christ did lot leave behind any institutional authority to discern right from wrong, then it is all a wash. The “holy spirit” tells Martin Luther that Sola Scriptura is true and that the Deuterocanon isn’t inspired. The “holy spirit” tells Joseph Smith that Jesus is the “spirit brother” of lucifer and the liberal Protestants claim that the “holy spirit” told them that homosexuality was just peachy and that homophobia is the real sin.

        Either there is a genuine Church with genuine authority, or we are just making it up as we go. Catholicism, Orthodoxy, or nothing.

      • Observer,

        1. You are changing the topic.
        2. You set up a false premise (“If it is all just private interpretation” is not what mainstream Protestant denominations teach).
        3. You set up a false dichotomy (“Either there is a genuine Church with genuine authority, or we are just making it up as we go.” There are other options.)

        While the Orthosphere might be a good place to discuss which Christian denomination is truest to Christ, this is not the thread for that discussion.

      • Truly, not intending to threadjack here… This is really my way of saying: The Truth is not civilizationally maladaptive. Different errors may be more or less maladaptive, on a case by case basis, depending at least upon the particular civilization making the error, and the breadth, length, and type of error.

        But one thing is certain, maladaptation is evidence of profound error. Full stop. If the Mormons are less maladaptive than the purportedly “Christian” larger culture in which they live (and from which they sprang), then that at least tells me that they are closer to the Truth than the larger culture. Of course, they may be a million miles from the Truth, but they are closer than our Cathedral Masters.

        And it therefore seems silly to me, to be arguing Christology with Mormons, when objectively they possess more civilizational robustness than the average Christian pew-sitter. Don’t get me wrong, correct Christology should lead to better societal outcomes ceteris paribus. But correct Christology is no substitute for correct, i.e., adaptively advantageous, thinking about family life and the constitution of good public order. If you have to choose just one, probably better to have the latter than the former.

  8. Excuse me. I mean “prophet” not “prophit.”

    I do not mean to be harsh to Mormons by using the word lies but you either believe the BoM (in which case you’re probably going to convert to the LDS Church) or you don’t and it is a false set of stories. It was not written as literature i.e. as something that was never intended to be taken as true.

    Alan,

    “The sine qua non, the indispensible element, of Christianity is the forgiveness of our sins by our repentance and faith in Christ”

    I don’t think the RCC and EOC would agree with this statement or they would say that there are additional indispensible elements. Do you believe that Catholics and Orthodox are Christians like Protestants or non-Christians like Mormons? I ask this because I’m not sure RC Sproul considers Catholics and Orthodox to be Christians.

    • Excuse me for interjecting my own answer here, but some Protestant denominations do not consider Catholicism to be truly Christian because of its doctrinal errors. This is not license to denigrate Catholics; on the contrary, we should speak the truth to all, regardless of affiliation, and do it with love. The same applies, therefore, to Mormons, the topic of this thread.

    • Although Catholics and Orthodox make some serious mistakes, they are not in the same category as Mormonism, which fundamentally redefines the whole spiritual enterprise. For the purposes of this discussion, Catholics and Orthodox are Christians along with Protestants.

      • The essence of “mere Christianity” is portable across Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox lines. But there’s a force field around the Mormon church, crossing that line devastates “mere Christianity” (going in) and Mormonism (going out).

  9. Another of Charlton’s posts:

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-book-of-mormon-what-manner-of-book.html

    The usual ways of dismissing the significance of The Book of Mormon do not remotely hold water; or, at least, if the kind of explanations used to explain-away the Book of Mormon were accepted in mainstream literary history, then nothing would be left standing!

    I personally am quite happy to accept that – in some way and at some level – Joseph Smith was genuinely divinely inspired (an inspiration not necessarily complete, and not necessarily without error) – and that of course explains the whole thing.

    But for those who do not acknowledge the reality of divine inspiration as a possibility; the ‘case’ of The Book of Mormon is, or ought to be, a matter of extreme interest – rather as if The Silmarillion had been serially dictated, off the top of his head, by a semi-literate rustic gardener such as Sam Gamgee.

    Charlton is looking at the Book of Mormon as a literary work. And he is very impressed to the point where he believes that God or a god or some gods inspired Joseph Smith.

    The historical, traditional Christianity–Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox–that rejected Mormonism from the start still rejects it. It doesn’t reject it based on its literary qualities, but based on how it is false theologically. That is one of the usual ways of dismissing the Book of Mormon, but it does not remotely hold water for Charlton.

    Basically he’s become an apologist for LDS.

    • RE: your last sentence. I don’t know if this is true. He seems to want to include Mormonism is a broad umbrella of “mere Christianity.”

    • Basically he’s become an apologist for LDS.

      Only in a manner of speaking. Dr. Charlton acknowledges that Mormon theology is far from mainstream Christianity, but he concentrates on other phenomena and downplays theology. Sociologically, Mormonism is good for America, as he asserts, but theologically, it fails to provide true salvation from our sins.

    • It doesn’t reject it based on its literary qualities, but based on how it is false theologically. That is one of the usual ways of dismissing the Book of Mormon.

      Mormonism’s heterodox/heretical theology doesn’t come from the Book of Mormon, but from the later (purported) revelations of Joseph Smith. The religious message of the Book of Mormon is generically Christian in content, with none of the doctrines one thinks of as distinctively Mormon and nothing that a common or garden Protestant would find objectionable. It is as a purportedly historical document from ancient America that people usually dismiss it, or else they dismiss it because they cannot accept the idea of there being any other scripture than the Bible, be that additional “scripture” never so orthodox in its content.

  10. Mormonism did not start out as a ‘net positive for America.’ They were hounded out of every political jurisdiction all the way to Missouri where Joseph Smith was killed. They were enemies of America. In Utah, in 1858, they were the authors of the worst slaughter of innocents, up to that time, when they killed 120 members of the Fancher Train. The US Government sent the army to administer ‘the final solution’ to the Mormon problem but the army was called back due to the outbreak of the civil war. They finally became civil enough to apply for statehood and have since assimilated into decent citizens, but it was a very bloody and troubling start.

    • Well they certainly started out as a net positive for Mormons. And biologically speaking, that is all that matters. Genetically they should have been able to build a society and culture on a par with what we find today among the Scots-Irish of rural Kentucky and Tennessee. They did quite a bit better than that. It seems that polygamy, as they practiced it, may have been quite eugenic for them.

      • “Genetically they should have been able to build a society and culture on a par with what we find today among the Scots-Irish of rural Kentucky and Tennessee.”

        I won’t comment on the genetic part, but I’d expect Anglo-Saxons like the Mormons to build a society and culture that exceeds (at least in some measures like education and wealth) one built by the Scots-Irish.
        Oh boy, I’m probably gonna get blasted by a Celtophile.

      • As I understand it, Scotch-Irish are, for the most part, neither Scottish nor Irish. They were mainly English Calvinist dissenters who were transplanted to Ireland before coming to America, so they are, for the most part, Anglo-Saxon, though with some Celtic, and even mainland European, influx.

        When Irish Catholics started immigrating en masse in the 1840s, the original “Irish” in America—Presbyterians, by and large— started calling themselves “Scotch-Irish,” in order to distinguish themselves from the newcomers, and thus the term was born.

        See the Wikipedia article on Scotch-Irish American.

    • An interesting bit is Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet”, the first of the Sherlock Holmes stories. One of the characters ends up in Utah, and deals with Mormons. It’s an unsympathetic view, so I did a little reading about it. It turns out that Freemasons (like Doyle) were bothered by Mormonism, because Smith ripped off Freemasonry blatantly in many ways. Smith’s father and brother were Freemasons, and he became one, too, eventually, so he knew what he was doing.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Freemasonry

      The early LDS was honeycombed with Freemasons.

  11. To the extent that Joseph Smith’s Mormonism was sincere, it seems to me like it was at least in part an attempt to address the Christological deficiencies and (in my opinion, false) division of faith and works that is inherent in Protestantism.

  12. Charlton is making worldly criteria (success in Darwinian terms) along with Christian self-identification the basis for actually being a Christian. That Mormonism is transparently not Christian doesn’t even enter into the equation. While Dr. Charlton is often brilliant, there is obviously something seriously wrong with you if you can’t recognize something this blatantly obvious. These aren’t exactly subtle intellectual differences.

    • As I said above, he recognizes the radically different theology of Mormonism, but he downplays its importance. His is an intellectually consistent position, but I am trying to show him (and others) the importance of theology.

    • I don’t think that it’s an idiotic mistake. Assuming that Christianity is true (and thus aligns with nature, given whatever qualifiers we wish to add in dealing with a fallen world), then “worldly” success — at least for a society — may seem a good indicator for one’s fidelity to the divinely appointed path. Of course, we’re dealing with human civilization, not test case Petri dishes. Things are complicated and messy. Carlton is doing what we all do in trying to figure it out.

      • “worldly” success — at least for a society — may seem a good indicator for one’s fidelity to the divinely appointed path.

        It is at least not proof that you have missed it!

  13. Mormons are certainly more Christian than most liberal Christians. A “false Christ” need not come merely in the form of a variant of literal description, but just as spirit is more than body so the spirit of Christ is the most critical aspect. If the path is leading towards the destruction of good works, of the church, of His sheep we may know the teaching is of a false Christ.

    In fact Dr. Charlton has elaborated on this exact point. He admits that the Mormon doctrine may negatively affect someone at the highest levels of sanctity, but for the average Christian, the Mormon church teaches more truth than liberal denominations.

    Most people these days have lost the utter and total importance of family as a central body to civilization and earthly life. This was as dominant theme of Old Testament thought, and the New Testament is totally misunderstood by the left without this common-sense concept that was true for most of human history. Mormons have kept the family as the center of worship, elevating the father as a spiritual leader and avoiding the family-destroying lies of state-worship and homosexual-worship that dominate leftist discourse.

  14. I suppose I should also mention that Mormons do not believe there is one God for each planet. Mormon scripture has God say “And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33).

    However, Mormons believe that God began his career as a man — and as such he must have lived on a planet which he himself had not created. They also believe that men can become Gods in the future and create worlds of their own.

    So the basic point — that the Mormon God is not the God of the entire universe, and that Mormonism is polytheistic in principal (though obviously not in practice) — is correct. But the Mormon God is nevertheless the God of much, much more than a single planet.

  15. I am not qualified to pick a side in this discussion, but just to link casual browsers into a portion of the Gospel where ‘by their fruits ye shall know them’ comes from: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%207:15-23&version=KJV

    It sounds to me like Bruce Charlton is basing his judgment on “neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” — he reasons (and that verse seems to support it) that since Mormonism claims to prophesy in the name of Jesus Christ, it cannot be spiritually neutral in the way that a merely secular doctrine could, and is either a good tree or a corrupt tree; but if it were a corrupt tree, this would have become obvious by now from mere direct and honest observation of the fruit it bears. On the other hand, the people arguing against Mormonism seem to find support in the final part of the excerpt, where it is said that even those who do marvellous works and miracles in the name of the Lord may find that He never knew them.

    • As a tangent to your welcome comments, Arakawa, I’ll question the widespread assumption that the “fruits,” in “by their fruits ye shall know them,” means good works, including the good work of having large families, but not the content of teaching and preaching. People seem to assume that doctrine, teaching, preaching are somehow not “fruits” here. And so they get the idea that, if there are “good fruits,” then one shouldn’t worry too much about doctrine; conversely, if there’s a lot of emphasis on sound doctrine, but one doesn’t see “fruits” (i.e. good works), then one may write off a church — so people sometimes seem to think.

      Maybe I am mistaken, but I would think that teaching, preaching, a sound liturgy, etc. may rightly be considered “fruit.”

      If that is so, then one of the things by which the soundness of a teacher, preacher, or denomination may be judged, is doctrine — not just works of hospitality, fertility, reconciliation, or the like. (I’ll explain a little more below.)

      We cannot judge someone’s heart. That is a truth that we should take seriously. But we not only can, but should, judge doctrine.

      By what standard or norm? Well, surely we should agree that, -at least-, the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures provide a central standard and norm by which to judge doctrine. 2 Timothy 3:15 is one of the commonly-cited texts for this belief.

      A book with some helpful discussion of this and related matters is Samuel Waldron’s To Be Continued? There are probably better books for the case that revelation ceased with the death of the last apostle, but this book could get someone started. (By ‘revelation” here is meant the deliverance of Christian doctrine — i.e. that to believe which is incumbent upon the Faithful. This doesn’t exclude supernatural experiences such as are discussed, from a Lutheran perspective, in Oberman’s Theology of the Heart, or from an Orthodox perspective in Farasiotis’s The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios — etc.)

      It is evident that the later books of the New Testament are much concerned, not with preparing the Faithful to receive further revelations that are on the way and will come forth sooner or later (such as the Mormon canon would purport to be), but rather to concentrate their attention on the existing “deposit of Faith” delivered by the prophets and apostles.

      I remember that, discussing things with a Pentecostal, I was urged again and again that good “fruits” such as rapid increase in churches, appropriate racial reconciliation, and so on as it were “proved” not only the truth of Pentecostalism but that it did not need things, such as sound dogma, that are cherished by older churches. I never quite “got it” that sound dogma is not also a “fruit” of sound faith.

      • Based on your comment, I believe you may have not actually researched Mormon teachings. If you visit Mormon.org I think you will agree that the discourse and teachings mostly count as good

  16. Mormons lead the nation in fraud (they are the American Nigerians there) and other secret sins like pornography purchase. That they are laid-back whites having babies is cool and all, but they are very bad for Christians, offering fruit that looks shiny and pretty externally but which is spoilt inside. As I already noted to Charlton, the Romneys, a well-established, fecund, wealthy family in the Mormon hierarchy use surrogates to bear their grandchildren.

    Embracing surrogacy and other evils of modern bio-technology is neither Christian nor the mark of a subculture that is long-lasting in millennial terms. The Amish are better models, being actually Christians and actually having lasted for centuries.

    • Do you have evidence for the claim that Mormons lead the nation in fraud? Searching Google, I can not find proof that Mormons are more fraudulent than anyone else.

      Perhaps Romney’s daughter-in-law had difficult getting pregnant so a surrogate was chosen. Do you know this? Have you spoken with them or researched it?

      • http://www.watchman.org/lds/scamlds.htm

        Yeah, you really searched high and low, there. And that’s an old link. If anything, it’s worsened over time.

        As for the other, George, how does difficulty getting pregnant (or ANY OTHER REASON) justify the monstrous sin of surrogacy? It’s simply not a Christian view of reproduction, full stop.

  17. Who are the Liberal Christians? (That is, pseudo-Christians)

    I would say anyone who adheres to and argues from the standpoint of a denomination with an average fertility rate below 2, is de facto corrupt (and therefore very probably Liberal),

    UNLESS…

    1. The denomination explicitly, publicly, repeatedly repents its low fertility.

    and

    2. Is doing what it takes to raise that fertility (within Christian bounds, of course).

    Unless the fertility is fixed or being fixed, then it is all just Hot Air.

    *

    (Of course individual persons and individual congregations within corrupt denominations may be uncorrupt – but here we are talking about denominations.)

    *

    Was Christianity corrupt in the decades leading up to the Reformation?

    You bet (and this is true whether you regard the Reformation as a good or bad thing).

    Well, things are much worse *now* among the main Christian denominations than in the pre-Reformation era… much, much worse.

    What are they doing about it?

    Either nothing at all, or Hot Air and yet more Hot Air.

    *

    So, how much validity does criticism of Mormonism have when it emanates from today’s ultra-corrupt, utterly unrepentant mainstream Christian denominations?

    None, is how much.

    *

    (Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?)

    *

    • “The denomination explicitly, publicly, repeatedly repents its low fertility.”

      “Is doing what it takes to raise that fertility (within Christian bounds, of course).”

      Low fertility is caused by contraception (and abortion). Catholicism teaches that contraception is wrong. It is the only “denomination” I am aware of that teaches this unambiguously. Most people (at least in the West) who call themselves Catholics are not Catholics even in the most basic sense. They do not obey the Church on fundamental matters.

      I think you assume that Mormons are more fertile than they are. Utah and Idaho are the geographic and cultural heart of Mormonism. Utah is 70+% Mormon. Their fertility rates are more than 2.0 but less than 3.0

    • The LDS, like all Protestant sects, also has no specific teaching against contraception. They just happen to use it slightly less than everyone else.

      I would not go as far as Dr. Charlton to identify widespread lack of fertility as a sin in itself. Infertility has all sorts of reasons. But I do say that it is at least a symptom of widespread moral errors.

      • The LDS, like all Protestant sects, also has no specific teaching against contraception.

        “Like all Protestant sects lately” would be better. Protestantism held up against the pelvic left for quite a while before it fell.

      • @Bill – It is worth pointing out, for those who don’t know the data, that Roman Catholic theology and teaching on premarital sex, contraception, abortion etc makes precisely zero difference to the actual behaviour of self-identified US Roman Catholics according to swathes of surveys I have viewed over the years.

        Words, words, words…

        This much is obvious, also, from the extremely low fertility rates of supposedly Catholic Nations such as Spain, Portugal, Poland and of course Italy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_territories_by_fertility_rate .

        As another indicator, the behaviour of students at US Catholic colleges is indistinguishable from the secular norm.

        In general, the only mainstream US Christians who show any observable difference from the secular norms are (the multitude of small denominations of) devout conservative Protestants. They are also the most fertile of mainstream Christians (e.g. the Quiverfull movement). And colleges such as Wheaton, Illinois also get a higher standard of behaviour from their students.

        All this is no accident, but flows from the nature of the denominational way of life.

      • Mormons use it less because they are works-based and set up a social structure that encourages and supports women in exercising their fertility. They have their older women explicitly help out new young mothers. This pretty much no longer happens with the other denominations, not even the Catholics.

        The Mormons are adopting the liberal view though and moving away from their broad social support of large families and mothering.

      • @Bruce

        You have data on Traditionalist Catholics? Absent such, I disbelieve that their fertility is roughly overall American fertility.

        Words, words, words…

        Are you even trying to be honest here? Are you seriously claiming that the Catholic hierarchy uses words in an effort to teach sexual morality? Where? When? Why have I not heard of it? Words have not been deployed since 1965.

        As far as I can see, the people who actually hear the words do a reasonably good job of living them.

    • Focusing on the current state of mainstream Christianity in the West as a key criterion for evaluating the truth of Mormonism is a classic hand waving redirect. It’s what the Mormons themselves do. That’s the basis of the Mormon story–the churches are all rotten and corrupt, and the Mormon church is God’s restoration through his prophet Joseph Smith. Are you now become a Mormon yourself?

      But Mormonism would have been identified as false at any point of time in Christianity. The current state of Christianity doesn’t even enter into it, except maybe that only today might Mormonism be considered a truly Christian church.

      Basically, your answer to Alan Roebuck amounts “the churches are corrupt, so your criticisms and evaluations are false.”

    • @ Bruce,

      At first I was going to say that I disagree with you that low fertility is a primary indicator of religious apostasy.

      But it now appears to me that low fertility is one of the simplest indicators of deep social disorder, and in the West this disorder has its ultimate cause in successful, institutionalized, officially-celebrated rebellion against God.

      Not just rebellion against God’s revealed means of salvation through repentance and faith in Christ, but also against God’s clearly expressed standards for individual and social behavior.

      Of course, it would do no good for a Christian leader to rail against low fertility while doing nothing to counter the liberalism that is its cause. To oppose low fertility, oppose the liberalism that is its root cause. And the Church that does not oppose liberalism is liberal, not Christian.

      But whereas deep social disorder is proof of rebellion against God, social order is not proof of honoring God. I would say that whereas Mormons generally do a good job of honoring God’s standards for personal behavior and social order, they do a bad job of honoring His means of salvation.
      That’s why I said “Christian salvation is not visible to the naked eye.”

      • @Alan – I agree with you.

        And that salvation is not visible to the naked eye – in an absolute sense.

        But we must not let abstract categories and the lines between them lead us into abstraction. Perhaps the visibility metaphor may lead us astray if pressed too heard?

        Salvation changes the soul, and what changes the soul changes the body, and thus the world.

        And this change is – potentially – detectable, discernible by others (by use of our God-given faculties; by the Holy Ghost, or Grace, in us). That is the basis on which we live, and for which we live.

      • Perhaps the visibility metaphor may lead us astray if pressed too heard?

        Maybe a better way of stating it is, We walk by faith and not by sight.

      • We cannot see another person’s faith, and it is faith, in the New Testament sense, that determines whether a person is Christ’s.

        The people who make up the Church as the mystical Body of Christ here on earth — we cannot tell who they are because we cannot see their hearts.

        In this sense, then, “the Church is invisible, the saints are unknown.”

        The Church does have visible signs or marks, though, namely the pure preaching of the Gospel of Christ — the incarnate Son of God crucified for the free forgiveness of our sins; and the Sacraments rightly administered. Part of their right administration is that Holy Baptism is said and done as a means of salvation, wherein we are united to the death and life of Christ; and that the Sacrament of the Altar is said to be and is celebrated as the true Body and Blood of Christ given for the forgiveness of sins.

        It is with these things, Dr. Charlton and all, that we should above all concern ourselves. Where these things really are, there we should be, whether or not the people at such a church are living exemplary lives, because it is from the Gospel and Sacraments that we -live-; from them we have, and grow in, our life in Christ.

        I don’t say that people who attend churches or belong to sects such as the LDS cannot be saved. Saving faith, be it ever so small, saves, and there are elements of the Gospel surviving even in the most far-out sects.

        But as our Lord said in a different context, “What is that to thee? Follow thou Me.”

        Church-wise do the best that you can and don’t fret too much about the defects you encounter every Sunday or about the good bits you (you all — any of us) may see in some group to which, nevertheless, we cannot belong.

        Isn’t that about right?

  18. Or, to put it more simply, the difference is:

    Whatever its errors, Mormonism *might* be right, overall and in its net effect…

    Whereas all the mainstream modern Christian denominations, as they *now* exist, with chosen sub-sustaining-fertility, MUST BE WRONG (overall and in their net effect).

    • I think you are falling prey to an error of observation. There is a lag in the Mormon embrace of liberal culture. You (general you) will continue to see many Mormons with 3-5 kids running around, but the trend among younger Mormons is away from young marriage and above-replacement numbers of kids. It just won’t show up for another decade or so.

      • I’ve argued this same point, but the contention is that evidence, as it stands NOW, shows Mormonism as superior, especially when looking specifically at Christian denominations.

        If this changes, as it may in the future, then there is a different point may be argued. Until it occurs in reality though we are only making theory and as yet the evidence stands against this theory.

  19. Mormons represent the limits of works theology. They have strong social support networks, but those are weakening as they attempt to become just another evangelical denomination.

    Essentially, you can’t look at the Mormons having babies and providing support to young couples and go ‘that is enough’. Many wealthy liberals do the same, but I don’t see Christian men lining up to praise their nominally conservative family structures. There are plenty of wealthy New York liberals having 3-5 kids, shall we proclaim that they *might* be right as well?

    Mormonism is grossly evil because they’ve led (sometimes unintentionally, sometimes intentionally) a lot of people outside Mormonism to believe they can replicate the large families without the social support and that has been quite disastrous for Christian families, leaving them rife with abuse and cultthink.

  20. I’m a Mormon.

    Your statements are both morally and factually wrong. With respect, you’ve badly mischaracterized our beliefs.

    Most Mormons have never heard of the obscure theological 19th century musings you’re relying on to condemn them. And in any event, you’ve badly misinterpreted those musings in the first place.

    You: “The Mormon Jesus, for example, is not Jehovah, but a different being, the “spirit brother of Lucifer.”
    The truth: Mormons explicitly teach that Jesus is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. Mormons believe that God is the father of everything, so that makes everyone, including Jehovah and Satan, spiritual brothers and sisters. But they’re not siblings in the sense you imply. So that you can educate yourself, here’s a link from the Church’s website: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bd/jehovah?lang=eng
    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bd/god?lang=eng&letter=g

    You: “God the father, in Mormonism, is not eternal spirit, but an exalted man.”
    The truth: All Mormons believe that God has and is an eternal spirit. You’re plainly wrong on that account. But we also believe he has a tangible body, in addition to his eternal spirit.

    Regarding God the father and his relationship to us:
    From Wikipedia: Latter-day Saints do not believe that human beings will ever be independent of God, or that they will ever cease to be subordinate to God.[12] Rather, the LDS believe that to become as God means to overcome the world through the atonement of Jesus Christ (see 1 John 5:4—5; Revelation 2:7, 11).[13] Thus the faithful become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ and will inherit all things just as Christ inherits all things (see Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 3:21—23; Revelation 21:7).[14]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exaltation_(Mormonism)#cite_ref-12

    You: “Joseph Smith sinfully refused to believe the Bible and Christian tradition on many important points”
    The truth: Mormons believe in the Bible and feel that other Christians do not understand it fully. Mormons accept that both errors in both translation and transmission through the centuries have negatively impacted the Christian faith. That said, we respect the many good things taught and achieved by other Christian faiths.

    It’s true that Smith fully, completely and explicitly disregarded Christian tradition, believing that Christianity had departed from its original, New Testament teachings. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a nutshell, sees itself as a the restored, apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, brought again to the earth.

    Again, your statements are both morally and factually wrong.

    • Short answer to Tim:

      As to what individual Mormons believe, I cannot comment, because I cannot read minds. Some Mormons probably have saving faith in Jesus Christ. What matters for us is what the Mormon authorities teach.

      Mormonism redefines the most important Christian terms, so that they sound orthodox, but actually carry different meanings. Thus Mormonism has a different Jesus.

      As you acknowledge in your last two paragraphs, Mormonism believes that the Christianity taught by current Christian authorities is mistaken (not completely mistaken, but mistaken in many important respects), and therefore it presumes to correct Christianity.

      Mormonism and Christianity are different systems. The reader will have to investigate for himself which system is the one actually taught by Jesus and the Apostles. But as the newcomer, Mormonism bears the burden of proof.

  21. No No. The sine qua non of Christian belief is the Resurrection, not the crucifixion.

    I don’t think that it is possible to quantify precise how many folk the Roman authorities crucified. The evidence to do so no longer exists. Over the 400 or so years that the punishment existed and over the entire empire (which included all the countries in the EU plus Syria, Palestine, and all of North Africa), I would guess that it was many thousands. Anyone can be crucified. Thousands were. That’s no big deal. It’s trivial.

    But only one man is said to have risen from the dead. If you believe he did, you are a Christian. And, if not, not. Note that Paul said precisely that — if Christ did not rise, your faith is in vain.

    Because we believe in the Ressurection, we orthodox catholic Christians venerate the EMPTY cross as a sign of triumph. To venerate a cross with a body on it is to venerate and glorify solely pain and suffering.

    • Not to disagree, but rather only to demur with respect to a few of your points:

      • While it was nothing special to be crucified by Romans, I wouldn’t say that it was trivial. From what I have read, it is among the most painful ways to die.

      • While it is true that belief in the Resurrection is *a* sine qua non of Christianity, there are lots of others, such as that Jesus is both God and Messiah. Viz., the Creeds.

      • Crucifixes represent more than just animal suffering. They represent Divine suffering of all the evil of the fallen creation, which sufficed to redeem the whole world and resurrect it. They convey to us something of the magnitude of that redemptive sacrifice.

    • Is your objection to “veneration” or to crucifixes, or both?

      Crucifixes as devotional aids (as Kristor’s comment might suggest) seem likely to be valuable to people accustomed to them, although introducing them in a church where people are not accustomed to them could cause needless hurt to sensitive consciences on the score of “idols.”

      If the issue is veneration, it would be good to specify what the acts and dispositions involved are.

      A mounted crucifix was introduced, without complaint of which I am aware, into my church some years ago. For me, it is edifying.

    • I don’t think that it is possible to quantify precise how many folk the Roman authorities crucified.

      It is, however, possible to quantify precisely how many Persons of the Trinity they crucified: 1.

      But only one man is said to have risen from the dead.

      Yeah, if you ignore Lazarus (and others).

      The Crucifixion is where the work got done for our salvation. Jesus offered His suffering in replacement for ours, offered His suffering in atonement for our sins, offered Himself as scapegoat for us, stored up the treasure chest of grace we draw upon to be saved.

      The Resurrection was part of an advertising campaign—a campaign which involved several resurrections, not just one. Look! It’s true! I am the God-Man! There’s nothing wrong with advertising, but putting it above and before production?

      Easter is fine, but Good Friday is where it’s at.

      • The difference between Lazarus (and others) and Jesus is that Lazarus (and others) died again. Only Jesus remained alive.

        I’m not sure that it’s worthwhile to try to separate or evaluate the relative values of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Both are necessary. The Crucifixion was the atonement, and the Resurrection was the rebirth into God. Without the Resurrection, God remains dead, and Jesus is not the master of death, freed from its power. There is no promise of eternal life.

        The coequal importance of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection show, yet again, the complexity of Christianity. It is part of why we need to read and re-read our Bibles, to attend church and Sunday School: while the core message can be boiled down to an essence, the breadth and depth of the faith cannot.

  22. Pingback: The Basic Case against Mormonism and Other Pseudo-Christianities « The Orthosphere

    • So you’re saying it’s nonsense to say “We must therefore trust what God says in Scripture about how He forgives us, and not be misled by that which is externally appealing?”

      Christ has told us, in Scripture, who is a Christian. Faith means trusting Him in what He says.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s