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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Christian Unity

As the Republican primary winds to a close, let me get something off my chest. As a Mormon, I'm very proud of my party right now. We've proved that we are not a bunch of intolerant hicks, that Evangelical Christians may not see eye to eye with all of Mormon doctrine but can think beyond those differences when electing a president. I am very encouraged for the future of conservatism right now. I am even more encouraged for the future of the religious Right. We may just be able to stop fighting among ourselves and turn that energy into something beneficial to society. We are on the verge of uniting against those who threaten all of our right to worship Jesus Christ openly and in public. We may just turn the tide.

We know from the story of the prophet Daniel in the Bible that the enemies of faith will gladly ban the worship of God in public. This is nothing new historically. The Romans did it, the Babylonians did it, and the Left has been doing it now for years. If we, as Christians, allow ourselves to waste energy attacking each other, we will never have the resources necessary to overcome the secular-minded world. At this point, all God-fearing men and women need to stop picking each other apart and instead stand up for their right to worship. The election of Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee is a huge leap in that direction.

However, for those of you who may have questions about just what differentiates Mormon Christianity from other branches, let me offer a few points of clarification.

1. Mormons do not accept the doctrine that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one being. We believe that they are three divine beings who are united in purpose. All power emanates from the Father, who has granted it to Christ as His emissary. Christ represents the Father here on earth and is the intermediary between Man and the Father. All salvation comes through a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice enables the reunion of fallen mankind with God the Father. The Holy Ghost serves as a comforter and revealer of truth on an individual basis. We believe Jesus Christ ascended bodily into Heaven and retains that glorified body today.

2. Mormons accept the Bible as the revealed word of God, but understand (as all modern Bible scholars do) that the translations we have today are imperfect and thus may be easily interpreted to suit the predispositions of those who preach from them. For example, in what is considered mainstream Christianity there is a lot of disagreement about what precisely one must do to be saved. Some argue that a verbal confession of faith is sufficient while others argue that salvation is predestined and thus any effort toward it would be futile. As for those who hold that baptism is essential to salvation, some argue that a sprinkling of water on the head constitutes baptism while others maintain that only complete immersion is acceptable. Thus, even the requirements for salvation vary depending on how one interprets the Bible. This does not diminish the importance of the Bible, but simply makes it clear that there is a need for clarification.

3. Mormons believe that as part of God's effort to clarify His intent, He has called prophets in modern times and revealed His word through them. The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price are three examples of modern revelation Mormons consider to be equally as important as the Bible. While such a thought might seem blasphemy to some, the same dilemma occurred at the addition of the New Testament to the canon of holy scripture. However, if it is true that God still reveals His will to men today, the written account of that communication would indeed be the word of God and thus scripture.

4. Mormons believe that God will have work for us to do in Heaven. The exact type of work will depend upon our own nature as spiritual beings, which we are learning and shaping during mortality. Some will be engaged in extending God's creation, while others will serve as angelic messengers. Whatever the case, our eternal destiny will not be to sit around chatting idly. The work of creation is infinite and we will assist in various ways depending on our faithfulness and obedience.

There are other doctrinal differences, but these are no more distinct than those that exist between most Christian denominations. If a Lutheran, a Calvinist, a Baptist and a Non-denominational Christian can all accept each other's Christian credentials, there should be no problem accepting Mormons into the fold.

As for Mormons, we accept the honest efforts of our fellow Christians to become closer to God (an aspiration we all share) and wish them the best. When people ask what Mormons believe, I often reply, "We believe everything you do about Jesus, and then some."

I hope there is no one who will take offense from the above doctrinal points. You don't have to agree with all of them; this is America and, thank the Lord, we are free to believe and worship as we choose. As Christians, it is imperative that we unite and fight to keep that freedom.

A few good resources to clarify Mormon doctrines are the following:

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