I’m going to vent for a moment. Please forgive me.
Over the last couple of days I’ve been reading with interest Beliefnet’s “Blogalogue” between Al Mohler and Orson Scott Card about whether Mormons are Christians. While the debate is fascinating on its own terms, it is — as both participants acknowledge — taking place only because of the presidential race and only because Mitt Romney has a serious chance to become President of the United States.
So I’m curious, when is Beliefnet going to schedule the debate between Al Mohler and any given pastor or priest in the Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Church, a lapsed Catholic, or some “I never darken the door of any church but I consider myself a really spiritual guy” theologian over whether their respective watered-down, unbiblical, faiths (complete with wholesale justifications of immoral and repulsive acts like adultery and abortion) are “Christian.”
I respect the heck out of Al Mohler. He’s one of the really great and insightful thinkers of the modern evangelical movement, but I just flat-out don’t buy the following concern he expresses about Mitt Romney:
I am concerned that a Mormon in the White House would do much to serve the worldwide missionary cause of Mormonism. I do not worry that a President Romney would push that agenda from the White House. My concern is more about symbolism and perception.
Let me ask this (and it’s a rhetorical question because the answer is obvious): What is a greater threat to orthodox Christianity? Mormon missionaries or our own theological and moral collapse? As we evangelicals circle our wagons around theology when it comes to the Mormon in the race, perhaps we need to understand that one of the great appeals of the Mormon religion is the fact that these guys tend to live what they believe. A bad Baptist is infinitely more damaging to evangelical Christianity than a good Mormon.
So we approach the Mitt Romney candidacy and worry about the “symbolism” of his election. But I’ll tell you the symbolism that worries me more, and that is the symbolism of the evangelical movement embracing the lapsed, watered-down “Chrsitianity” of the other Republicans rather than vote for (eww!) that “Mormon guy.”
Is it the case that “thinking” evangelicals should embrace candidates with multiple marriages, overlook adultery, and not worry about theological niceties so long as someone is at least in the pew next to us and mouthing the Nicene Creed (or used to sit in the pew next to us and used say the creed)? But at the same time it’s just too much to vote for a Mormon who loves Jesus, loves his wife, has raised five great sons who love Jesus and love their wives, and shares every relevant moral and political value with us — because, well, it’s just symbolically a bad message?
We should never forget that debates like Beliefnet’s “Blogalogue” take place in the real world and that tearing down the Mormon candidate invariably helps someone else. And that someone else is not Mike Huckabee. In 2007 and 2008, that someone else will be a person who does not share our moral and political values.
I’m sorry, but that makes no sense at all.