Monday, February 6, 2012

Romney's Mormonism

I should start this off with two disclaimers:

1—I still don't know who I want to vote for for president this year. Although I don't particularly dislike Obama, I think he's lost his steam. I know I don't like Gingrich.

2—I'm Mormon.

But here's the main point of this post: I read article after article about how Evangelical Christians say they have trouble supporting Romney because of his Mormonism. (Most recently, this one.) That is stupid. I'm trying to think of an analogy to illustrate its profound stupidity, but its stupid stupidness is hedging up my neurons.

Painting by J. Kirk Richards
Mormons are Christians

I am so tired of having to say this, largely because any argument to the contrary is so bafflingly stupid. The actual name of the church, which appears on all the publications and chapels, is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Anyone who's even casually read the Book of Mormon knows that it is swarming with references to Jesus. In fact, it's not a stretch to claim that Jesus is what the Book of Mormon is all about. These are the last words of the Book of Mormon:

And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.

In two verses, this writer underscores the basic tenants of Christianity: We're saved by Christ's grace (if we accept it) because he died for us. We'll be resurrected and brought back to God. Now I'm sure some theologian will take issue with the wording, but I would hope that any honest Christian will agree that Mormons and Evangelicals share the same fundamental belief and hope in Jesus of Nazareth.

Doctrinal Differences

I won't pretend that there are no differences between the theology of Mormons and Evangelicals. Mormons believe in an embodied Jesus and an embodied Father. Thus, it becomes hard to believe in the traditional idea of the trinity where all three Gods are one God in substance. But really, who cares? I mean, I care when it comes to the theology, and I have my reasons for believing what I do, but when it comes to public policy, isn't such a difference enormously inconsequential? But believe it or not, this difference is why the majority of Evangelicals think Romney's Mormonism is fundamentally non-Christian. Well guess what, the idea of the trinity (whether it's right or wrong) didn't develop until centuries after Jesus and the apostles (AD 325, in Nicaea). So I guess John, Paul, Peter, and Jesus weren't Christians or suited for public office.

My point is this: to non-Christians, the doctrinal disputes between Mormons and Evangelicals are irrelevant. What would they care if one faction thought God was corporeal or incorporeal?

Mormons' Political Activism

Some people say that they're concerned that Romney would take all his orders from Salt Lake, were he elected to the presidency. With the notable exception of Prop 8, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really isn't politically active. The First Presidency has issued church policies on abortion and welfare, but as a rule they do not support particular parties or candidates. But do you know a church that does issue political mandates all the time? The Roman Catholic Church.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love the Catholic Church. I actually have a lot of Catholic envy. But the truth is that they are aggressively political. And Newt Gingrich, whom the majority of Evangelicals support, is Catholic. Whether he's a good Catholic or a really practicing Catholic is another question.

By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

This is a harsh thing to say, especially since I've never been married, but seriously. Gingrich. Thrice married. Twice unfaithful. If Evangelicals are really interested in electing someone who lives a Christian life, shouldn't Gingrich give you pause? I mean, we can't know the heart of any candidate, but we can observe some outward behavior and make an educated guess. And I'm not saying that Romney is perfect or even that he's never had an affair, but we have no evidence to believe that he has. While Gingrich…is Gingrich.

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