Today I sat in the front row in Sunday service listening attentively to my pastor talk about the inevitable suffering and persecution that Christians will face for their faith. Though it wasn’t the main point of the message – the message was about hope for the impatient and the suffering, an excellent sermon – I walked away thinking about my life and whether I was ready for such persecution. The idea intrigued me, that more and more the Gospel of truth would be resisted and hated. Was I ready to stand steadfast for my Savior who gave his life for me?
Then I returned home to this, and article on CNN. Written by none other than Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, essentially endorsing Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith.
Now to be clear: I have no interest in dialoguing about the presidential nomination nor do I have any stance on what Mitt Romney should be labeled. That is not my concern.
What I am concerned about is that the president of one of the most well respected evangelical seminaries – through a widely read media source, nonetheless – calling Mormons “good citizens whose life of faith often exhibits qualities that are worthy of the Christian label.” Mouw goes on to talk about how Mormonism shouldn’t be labeled a “cult” but should be accepted along the Christian religion because “they promote the kind of scholarship that works alongside others in pursuing the truth” (referring to Bringham Young University).
The label “cult” is beside the point, really, especially how Mouw defines them: as closed off, exclusive entities who don’t engage with religious dialogue across faiths. To me, it doesn’t matter if you don’t call Mormonism a cult. Call it a false gospel, and their leaders false teachers, or their beliefs “cleverly devised myths” if that better suits the situation.
My issue ultimately isn’t with Mormons, but rather with President Richard J. Mouw. To him I ask this: how can you be so welcoming to a group that teaches a false gospel, and welcome them in “pursuing the truth” when Christians already have the truth in Scripture? Your dialogue with different Mormons add no credibility to your opinion, your view of BYU as an elite educational institution matters not in the heavenly courts because you are promoting – to your own students and to the world – a wholesale compromise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as portrayed in Scripture. And that scares me.
It confuses me when Mouw writes colluded sentences like this: “While I am not prepared to reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology, I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior.” How do Mormons not possess “undeniably Christian theology” and yet be considered “genuine followers” of Jesus? What are your readers supposed to think about such statements? For a man who holds such a high position in a respected evangelical institution, it seems clarity should be of the utmost importance considering your audience.
Mormons do not believe in the same Jesus that Christians believe in. Nor do they believe in the same God as Christians. They believe that God had a wife who gave birth to Jesus, the devil, you, and me. They believe that we all have the potential to be gods. Mormons are not Christians. There should be no hesitation there.
Our world is collapsing upon us everyday, and not only is society filled with anti-Christian rhetoric, but believers must now be discerning within our own faith. It seems that some Christians will experience persecution, but others will wilt under the pressure of the world, instead condoning and compromising with the false gospels we are so warned against in Scripture. To say I am disappointed in Fuller Seminary’s president would be an understatement. It is indeed a sad day when the visible church is no longer a pillar of truth (1 Timothy 3:15) but rather a sinking ship chalk full of holes.
I pray that our conviction of the Christian Gospel would not wane, and that the church would stand steadfast in the face of pressure from our departing world. In the end, I can’t help but echo the thoughts of the apostle Paul in his letter in Galatians 1:6-9 some 1,950 years ago – words that hold as much weight today as when he penned them to a compromising church:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”