September 26, 2012

Mormonism and Mitt Romney: Does It Matter?

By Nathaniel Torrey

Are Mormons Christians? What significance will Mitt Romney’s Mormonism have if he is elected president? These questions were asked at “A Mormon President? Religious & Political perspectives,” an event at Roanoke College on September 14th. It consisted of four speakers: Dr. Robert Millet, a Mormon theologian from Brigham Young University, Dr. Gerald McDermott, a theologian from Roanoke College, Dr. Harry Wilson, Roanoke College political scientist, and Dr. Robert Benne, director of the Center for Religion and Society at Roanoke College.

Dr. Millet and Dr. McDermott see the main difference between traditional Christianity and Mormonism in the rejection of the consubstantiality of the three persons of the Trinity. Quoting Jeffrey R. Holland, a leader in the Mormon Church, Dr. Millet said:

We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true…

In their view, Mormons are the original and only truly Biblical Church. They are rigorous in their application of Sola Scriptura. They reject any and all “post-New Testament” teachings beginning with the Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council that established the precise relations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that are accepted by almost all Christians today. They also simultaneous believe in a new and on-going revelation, beginning with Joseph Smith and continuing today.

According to Dr. McDermott, this shouldn’t bother us too much when we cast our ballots. Americans have a long tradition of electing presidents with unorthodox beliefs about God.  Dr. McDermott points out that:

George Washington was a deist who usually referred to the deity in vague and impersonal terms. He never seemed to have the personal relationship with God or Jesus that evangelicals think is necessary to true faith.  John Adams, a Unitarian, wrote to his son John Quincy that the idea of an incarnate God suffering on a cross made his “soul start with horror at the idea.”  Thomas Jefferson believed the doctrines of the Trinity, atonement and original sin were essentially pagan, and rejected the possibility of most miracles and any bodily resurrection. Lincoln biographer Allen Guelzo reports that our 16th president also rejected the Trinity, believing hesitatingly in a “remote, austere, all-powerful, uncommunicative” God without either Son or Spirit.

It seems that Mitt Romney’s particular theological stances shouldn’t be much of a problem for voters if history is any indication. Also, where orthodox Christianity and Mormonism agree, and where orthodox voters and Mitt Romney agree, is significant. Both affirm that termination of a fetus is not a right and that it is in the interest of everyone that the traditional unit of society, the family, be protected.

It seems these shared values will be enough for most orthodox Christians to assuage their consciences this November. 28 Christian leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, have signed and sent a letter to Mitt Romney, applauding his stances on abortion and same-sex marriage in particular. In contrast, the Democratic Party has affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion and endorsed gay marriage. For many traditional Christians and Mormons this fall, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” may be a common mantra on the way to the ballot box.


28 Responses to Mormonism and Mitt Romney: Does It Matter?

  1. eMatters says:

    Mormons aren’t Christians. Then again, based on his “fruit,” neither is Barack Obama. We should vote based on issues and capabilities. Romney is a far superior choice on the economy, pro-life, international issues, “same-sex marriage,” and more.

    “the Democratic Party has affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion”

    Worse than that, they are now explicitly pro-abortion, the term used for anyone insisting on taxpayer-funded abortions. They don’t want others to have a “choice” as to whether they fund abortions or not.

    • Tom Arr says:

      “Romney is a far superior choice on the economy, pro-life, international issues, “same-sex marriage,” and more.”

      As were many other people of Christian faith, that the GOP failed to nominate. Instead they opted to put a man of an all-together different religion up against a man of a rather ambiguous religion. Good job.

  2. Tom Arr says:

    The answer is no, Mormons are not Christians. Ask what Christian churches recognize Mormon baptisms, while recognizing other Christian baptisms tells you all you need to know.

  3. For once and for all time, Romney is not pro-life. He has stated openly, not that long ago, that once he is president he will not allow bureaucrats to get between a woman and her body. A few minutes later, his team had him clean up this assertion. His own sister is willing to speak publicly about Romney’s pro-death-before-birth stance.

    And if you want to know his governing policy on this matter, then study his actions in Massachusetts when he served as governor.

    He may not be as bad as Obama on this matter, but he isn’t a whole lot better, either.

  4. dover1952 says:

    It is interesting that this question has come up about voting for Romney. In fact, I was not sure if anyone here was even going to raise it. It just so happens that I have given it considerable thought (off and on) over the past several months—based on my deep and detailed understanding of contemporary conservative Christian thought and perspectives on a wide range of issues. As a matter of fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I took a few moments of time and wrote out a clear and succinct description of what I feel is the only real choice available to “true” Christians in this upcoming election. In fact, it is a brief message that I have been trying to convey far and wide, especially to anyone who will take it serious and listen in the so-called battleground states. Here is what I wrote from scratch right here at the computer in the upstairs study in my home:

    “Christian conservatives do have a clear and moral choice in this Presidential election. Because the conservative Christian church has always, both officially and traditionally, defined Mormonism as being a cult outside of Christianity, a vote for Mitt Romney would place a non-Christian heretic in charge of the United States. Although Barack Obama claims to be a Christian, many of his policies are at odds with the most basic and cherished beliefs of conservative Christians. The New Testament scriptures (Romans 14) make it clear that no conservative Christian can make a decision that goes against his/her own conscience without committing sin. Therefore, a Christian conservative vote for Obama would be to commit sin just as much as voting for Romney. However, there is a proven moral and Christian way out of this dilemma. The great 17th century Christian poet John Milton provided it in his epic poem “Paradise Lost” when he said: “They also serve [God] who only stand and wait.” The only clear moral choice open to Christian conservatives who want to serve the Lord in this Presidential election is to “stand and wait” by staying home and refusing to vote for either major party candidate for President.”

    Let me know what you think.

  5. eMatters says:

    Hi Dover1952 — I think it is great that you are thinking carefully about this topic, especially on Romans 14. But my conscience will be clear in voting for Romney: The lesser of two evils is less evil. You aren’t complicit in evil by voting for the less evil option.

  6. David Reagan says:

    Many evangelicals think that Romney appears to share their views if not their beliefs, and so he is a better candidate than Obama and they plan to give him their vote accordingly. That’s fine–if you feel comfortable making a purely pragmatic political decision and believe you can divorce it from your faith. But I have to wonder–as a bible believing Christian–what worse blasphemy can you imagine than inventing an entire additional testament to holy scripture out of thin air, and then claiming that this takes precedence over the Old and New Testaments? That is what the founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith did, and that is what Mormons believe. The Book of Mormon is not one book–it is SEVENTEEN books. I challenge my fellow evangelicals who are planning to vote for Romney to read all of them. They are a satire, a mockery of holy scripture, and if you can stomach reading this entire “new new testament” you will understand what Mormons truly believe. They do not profess the Trinity–one God in three divine persons–rather they believe in many gods. In fact, they believe that God the Father was a Mormon in a previous life on another planet, and that he became god of this planet after his death. Likewise Mormon men look forward not to the resurrection, but to becoming gods of some distant planet after their deaths. Mitt Romney is a bishop in this religion that he claims to call “Christian”.

    Before you pull the lever for Mitt Romney, you owe it to yourself to read what he believes. And while you are prayerfully pondering how God wants you to vote, as you must, consider this. Mormonism is the fastest growing cult in the world, and here in America it is growing by converting lapsed Christians. A Romney presidency will explode those conversions exponentially. Do you want to see those in your own family who have fallen away take up this false faith? Do you truly want to be a part of that, and to answer for it at the judgment seat of God?

    The “Book of Mormon” can be found in its entirety here. I urge you to read it and make up your own minds.

    http://www.bookofmormononline.org/

  7. cabanajudana says:

    To all Evangelicals who believe that a vote for Romney is the lesser of two evils, let me ask you this. As bible believing Christians, can you imagine committing a worse blasphemy than inventing an entire additional testament to holy scripture? And one that replaces the Old and New Testaments? That is exactly what Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, did. And that is what Mormons believe in. I was prepared to vote for Mitt Romney because I thought he shared my views if not my faith. But then a small voice urged me to read the Book of Mormon first–just to see what faith he professes. I was shocked to learn that the “book” of Mormon is actually seventeen books–an entire “new” new testament. And when I overcame my hesitation and began to read it I was repulsed. It is a mockery of holy scripture. Mormons may run away from their heretical teachings that there are many gods, that God the Father was a Mormon man on another planet before his death, whereupon he became god of this earth, but it is all here in the “book” of Mormon. By all means, cast a purely pragmatic vote for Romney if that is what your conscience tells you to do. But not before reading the scriptures of the church that Mitt Romney still serves in as bishop.

    One more thing to consider as you prayerfully ponder your vote. Mormonism is the fastest growing religion in the world–largely by converting lapsed Christians. A Mitt Romney presidency will bring such prestige to his cult that baptisms into this heretical faith will explode all over the word–and here in America in particular. Are you willing to see those in your own family who have fallen away get swept up in Mormonism?

    The Book of Mormon can be found below in its entirety. You owe it to yourself to read at least part of it before you pull that lever.

    http://www.bookofmormononline.org/

  8. dover1952 says:

    Apparently. Pastor Jeffress at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, agrees with my conclusion. In an interview on CNN tonight, he said that Romney needs to quit talking about the economy, because it is getting better under Obama and is now a loosing issue, and start talking about evangelical social issues—or else evangelicals are liable to stay home and not vote at all. I thought that was interesting.

    • Tom Arr says:

      Then Pastor Jeffress is whitewashing the Mormon divide from Christianity, for Romney has no credibility to speak on evangelical matters as he is not an evangelical, he is a Mormon.

  9. dover1952: I think that “staying at home and waiting” is being “a man with one talent” from the parable of talents. In any issue you can say “I’m not sure what is better/worse, so I’d rather do nothing”, and then your life just go by the route defined by other people’s will. In this particular case staying at home and not voting you actually vote for Obama. By doing nothing you actually vote for the more popular candidate, as his percents will be higher.

    • Tom Arr says:

      Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

      So be it.

      For this is also true:

      Romans 13:3 “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.”

  10. Dan Trabue says:

    I’m wondering if our conservative friends here who are okay with voting for a Mormon (and I’m not faulting you for that – I would not let being a mormon stop me from voting for someone, in and of itself), as long as they hold the right, conservative positions, if you’d also be okay with voting for a Muslim, a Jewish lesbian or a pagan, as long as they held to the political positions that you hold dear…

    I’m just curious. Any thoughts?

  11. Dan Trabue says:

    Your thoughts are “the devil…”? or “the Devil Dan…”?

  12. cynthia curran says:

    Obama is probably an agnostic. The church that he belong to was into liberation theology. Obama mention in his book before Trinity and Rev Wright he didn’t believe in the existence of God. As a young man he went to a mosque under his step father and his grandparents took him to a Unitarian church which certainly isn’t christian in any sense either. His family background was a social gospel without true christian belief. And as for Romney the United States is not a theocracy like the Byzantine empire was under the Emperor Justinian, so theology is not require to be president, if theology was required them politicians like Harry Reid on the Democratic side should leave politics as well..

  13. cynthia curran says:

    I think if Harry Reid was running then leftwing Evangelicals would not bring this issue up since Harry Reid is a Mormon but a democratic.

    • eMatters says:

      Good points, Cynthia. Most of what they say about Romney would be ignored if the facts applied to Obama. If Obama donated what Romney did they’d be talking about how incredibly generous he is and not about his tax rates.

  14. Dan Trabue says:

    Bring WHAT issue up, Cynthia? That he’s a Mormon? I haven’t noticed anyone on the Dem side making an issue of that, at least not seriously.

  15. cynthia curran says:

    I would vote for a neo-pagan if they were moderate to conservative,they are a few out there..Among neo-pagans that are conservative most are into Norse mythology, however a few are heavily into white nationalism. Paganism is wrong in theology but many Conservative Christians admire Cicero.

  16. cynthia curran says:

    Romney would do better if he knew how to handle Foreign policy, Reagan got the Reagan Democratic because of Carter’s weakness abroad. Social issues gets some conservative protestants and Roman Catholics but foreign policy would even help more., many lower middle class people don’t like Obama censoring films that offend Islam. Obama handling of the situation where an ambassador might have been sodomized looks like a weakness among the lower middle class than the upper-middle class. Romney has been trying to get the lower middle class to close gaps in Oh in particular.

  17. cynthia curran says:

    Well, I was not a big fan of George W Bush since he helped changed the demographics of the US. Hispanics are not natural Republicans no matter what the man thought. He gave money to Africa for AIDS over American Citizens. He had a mediocre foreign policy, the patriot act was good, the execution of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were mediocre. Good on the social issues, mediocre on the economy since he allowed millions to come illegal to please business interest and legalized them to try to get the vote, cut taxes but ran high deficits as well. So in my mind Romney should be given a chance.

  18. cynthia curran says:

    I mean tried to legalized them George W Bush but his based including conservative Protestants and Roman Catholics didn’t agree with this. Both Sean Hannity and Laura Ingrham Catholics opposed the legalization of illegal Hispanics and some Asian groups with a handful of illegal Irish and so forth.

  19. dover1952 says:

    Could someone here explain to me why Cynthia is locked into the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire? I must honestly say that I have never seen anyone comment on modern Christian issues as if they were a citizen living in Constantinople in 339 A.D. Here in the old South, I frequently here Baptist preachers saying, and it is always preceded by a thunderous cry, something like the following:

    “Oh-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-!!! If we could only go back to those blessed first century days and live out our lives as the earliest Christians did.”

    I think that is silly. People must live in their own time and deal with the problems of their own time. Just sayin.

  20. James says:

    Mormonism does not practice Sola Scriptura. Mormons deny Sola Scriptura by adding books to the scriptures and having continuing revelation. They also deny doctrines which are taught in Scripture, like the Trinity, salvation by grace alone, and justification by faith alone. Mormons believe that God was once a man and that men can become gods.

    Sola Scriptura doesn’t reject the ecumenical creeds because they are not viewed as inspired, rather the creeds are accurate summaries of what the Scriptures teach.

    Mormonism is altogether a different religion from Christianity.

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