All of us found the below, which came in from a reader, to be a very moving description of one man’s relationship to our Lord:
I read your blog daily and have always appreciated (deeply) the respectful treatment that you have afforded my church (I’m LDS), even coming to its defense against unfair attack. It shows depth of character to be able to stand up for a religion with which you have disagreements. Thanks.
I know there are a lot of Mormons who are ambivalent about Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency. I think Romney could be an excellent President, and he is (as far as I can tell) a great representative of our religion. At the same time, I know that his candidacy is going to draw a lot of negative attention to the Church. I served a mission in South Carolina. Southerners are the greatest. But there is some very virulent anti-Mormonism that I ran into, and I have a good idea of what is coming.
The criticism I wanted to write to you about, is the assertion that “Mormons are not Christians.” I know you are familiar with our beliefs, but let me just briefly tell you the core of what I believe about Christ, and what that accusation means to me, in hopes that perhaps you can help your audience better understand the issue, if that issue presents itself on your blog or comes up when you are making public appearances (or in private conversations for that matter).
I believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. He was not Joseph’s son, He was God the Father’s Son. He was not mortal, but divine. He held the keys of death and hell, and was not subject to mortal death–except by His own submission to His Father’s will. I believe that Christ willingly submitted to the cruel abuse, and then the tortuous death he suffered on the cross when it was fully within his power to end his own physical suffering at any moment. I believe that he died, and that he arose three days later as the first fruits of the resurrection. I believe that Christ’s resurrection opened the way for the physical resurrection of all mankind. Without Christ’s death and resurrection, all mankind would languish, unresurrected, for eternity. Christ overcame physical death for us–and for me personally.
Infinitely worse than the physical suffering Christ endured was the spiritual torment that he went through in Gethsemane. In some way that is not fully comprehensible to man, Christ accepted the punishment for the sins of every human who has ever lived. The suffering was so great that it caused Christ, the greatest of all, to shrink and question whether it was possible that the cup be passed from him. Nevertheless, he chose to allow the Father’s will to be done. I know that my own sins added to the suffering that Christ experienced, and that he paid the price for my individual sins in a personal, direct way, for me. The atonement of Jesus Christ is the greatest event that has ever happened in the history of the world, indeed, it is the very purpose for which Christ created the world. I know that, regardless of how hard I try, I cannot return to the presence of God except through repentence, calling on God for forgiveness, which forgiveness is only available because of Christ’s suffering for me in Gethsemane. Without Christ’s atonement, I would be forever cut off from my Heavenly Father with no hope of return. Christ’s mercy overcame spiritual death for all those who will receive it–and for me personally.
These are not just abstract beliefs to me. I have prayed and studied and had the confirmation of the Holy Ghost that they are real. I have plead for forgiveness, and felt it come. It is the most sublime and humbling, and gratitude-filling experience I know. I have suffered some (mild) slings and arrows for these beliefs, both on my mission (where one physical attack was attempted against me for no reason other than the nametag I wore) and since.
So, as the next 18 months pass, I expect to hear people say that I am not a Christian. That message can be delivered in two ways. Sometimes it is delivered maliciously, by those who want to insult and defile. When it is delivered that way it is perhaps the most hateful thing that can be said to me. Sometimes it is delivered ignorantly, in which case it is merely hurtful, but not hateful. But whenever someone says I am not a Christian–and this is the point I have been trying to get to–it is an attempt to take Christ away from me. To tell me that Christ does not know me, that I do not reverence Him and love Him and worship Him, when I do. That statement reaches into my heart and tries to tear out what is at the very center–my faith in my Saviour. It attempts to invalidate, nullify, and erase the forgiveness I have received from Him. I cannot believe that Christ is directing someone to do that to me and to the millions of faithful Mormons who are committed to Christ and rely on Him as their Redeemer. And I just hope that other Christians, with whom I differ on much, much less important points of doctrine, will understand what it means to tell a Mormon he is not a Christian. They may still choose to do so, but I hope they will wrestle with what it means before making that choice, and make it with their eyes open to the effect of those words.
Thanks for all you do.
As we have said before, EFM has no position on the great “Is Mitt Romney a Christian?” or “Are Mormons Christians?” questions. We aren’t posting the above in order to prove that one side or the other is right. We have also never hesitated to say that we have very important doctrinal differences with Gov. Romney–as, I am sure, we do with the above reader.
But that does not mean we are not still supposed to speak the truth in love. We try to do that here, and it’s encouraging that at least one reader thinks we’re doing a good job.
As for those important doctrinal differences, whether they can render impossible a saving reliance on Jesus is for him, not us, to decide–and it is not relevant to the 2008 presidential race. So we’ll leave it aside and keep illuminating the ways that one particular Mormon clearly shares our values and should be the next president. Thanks for reading.