The EFM Feature
Mail, from Flickr user basykes, used under a Creative Commons license

…and I for one am slow in answering it.  Sorry!

Here’s one from reader Jacob:

As a group, how would you define evangelicalism?

How do you think Mitt Romney can overcome his “evangelical problem?”

Do you think that Mormonism is Christianity?

If so, how do you define Christianity?

If not, are you afraid that Romney’s ascendancy to the White House will presume to streamline Mormonism and normalize it as historic, orthodox Christianity, therein rejecting the cardinal truths of the Christian faith?

Here are my answers; I welcome others’.

We don’t have a “group definition” of evangelicalism, and I’d be hesitant about our doing so (we’re bloggers, not theologians).  But the term is certainly fraught these days.  I’d suggest a good starting point, and one with which I suspect my co-bloggers would agree, is the Barna Group’s definition of a “nine-point evangelical.”

Briefly, I’m not sure Gov. Romney has an “evangelical problem” to overcome so much as evangelicals have a confusion problem to overcome.  That is, we get confused about the difference between pulpits and politics, between theology and values.  We need to overcome our ill-considered insistence that the people we elect as presidents meet the same criteria we’d use to elect pastors.  We need to understand that while it is proper–indeed, incumbent upon us–to take theology very seriously, it is foolish to insist that our politicians share it.  Rather, what matters when it comes to politicians is how their theology manifests itself in terms of their values and their policy priorities.  David has explored this more here.

We have been clear over the years that we do not agree with Mormon theology and do not consider it to be part of historic Christianity.

We do not at all agree that electing a President Romney will place souls in jeopardy.  The first reason is that (at least for David, Nancy, and me…I haven’t given Tim a theological examination yet!) we are Reformed.  But even if you’re not, there are commonsense reasons why this very common view is mistaken.  We explored that here.

Thanks for the note, Jacob.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Comments and Discussion

Evangelicals for Mitt provides comments as a way to engage in a public and respectiful discussion about articles and issues. Any comment may be removed by the editors for violating common decency or tempting flames.

22 Responses to We Get Mail…

  1. Valerie Chandler says:

    I think that you are right, Evangelicals do seem confused. They hold a hard-line prejudice that the label “Christian” can not apply to Mormons. This whole evangelical-snub seems kind of arrogant to me. Evangelicals don’t care which Church a person practices their Christianity inside– “all roads lead to the top of the mountain”. That is, unless you are Mormon. That kind of staunch, driven Christianity is unacceptable. Really? Mitt Romney’s faith is founded in Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of the World, the giver of grace and mercy to save, and the author and finisher of redemption. I think that Ralph Reid was right to say that Evangelicals and Mormons have MUCH in common. That is except that Mormons don’t deny Evangelicals of their deep-held faith in Christ.

    • Brandon from NJ says:

      Well, here’s one of my history comments. The sad story is that there is a cycle of bad groups popping up among various groups. KKK is among the worst. I do feel optimistic that Romney, with what he did, sheds a great light on how tolerant a person can be. He represented the Catholic Church in court while governor of Massachusetts, he represented the United States by his actions in the 2002 Olympics. I don’t agree with your theology, but, as Terry stated, it’s not me electing my local minister, so why fret about it. That’s part of why I am here, to add a little insight from a similar side of Nancy and David, as to why Romney’s religion shouldn’t matter much in comparison to his character, and what he is on the record for doing so far. Just know that yeah, there’s plenty of people who shout all out loud about their misunderstanding of the constitution, and there’s people like myself, who just want someone with an executive record to be in the running.

    • Tom says:

      Valerie,

      It all started when LDS “prophets” said “All other churches are an abomination.” So the “snub’ you mentioned, came from the LDS first. Biblical Christian beliefs and LDS beliefs are about as in harmony as Muslims and Jews. They differ by quite a bit and I think your attempts to focus on “common ground” is infantile. The Bible teaches true Christianity, while the BoM, D&C, POGP and all other LDS works teach of man-made substance, not in congruence with the Bible. Jesus is God.

  2. Marvel says:

    Mormons don’t consider themselves mainstream historically orthodox Christians, as most of the world understands Christianity today, but we do consider ourselves Christians. Our claim is that Jesus Christ himself commissioned our movement when He appeared with the Father to the boy Joseph Smith. We assert that Mormonism is a restoration of ancient Christian orthodoxy.

    We believe whole heatedly that the resurrected Son of God, known in mortality as Jesus of Nazareth, is at the helm of our Church today, and we seek to live our lives according to all of his teachings. I think that makes us Christians.

    Watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtEQ8Tjr2EI&list=PL4E784EC0770935C0&index=58&feature=plpp_video

      • Jon says:

        But the question remains unanswered. Does Charles believe that Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are Christian, in any sense of the word?

        • Lisa Hill says:

          Why does Charlie need to answer that question? Isn’t that a question that can best be answered by Christ? Let’s leave it for Him. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has the skills, values and experience to be a good president. That is enough for me!!

        • Terry says:

          Does it matter? This is a political website. We’re electing a president, not a Pastor, Bishop, or whatever. The important thing is that the Evangelical moral compass and the LDS moral compass both are pointing in the same direction. Thus, Mormons and Evangelicals can link hands in this common political to try and get Mitt Romney elected.

        • Kate says:

          Since when is it the responsibility of others to classify whether one is christian or not? Only God and Jesus Christ can know the thoughts and desires in our hearts. I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints all of my life. I know and can never deny that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I go to bed each night and rest easy with the knowledge that Jesus Christ is my Redeemer and only through Him can I be saved and be with Him again one day. Maybe those that think it is so important to debate whether or not I am a christian should find something else to do with their time. Also, Mitt is not running for president as “Mitt the Mormon”. His membership and service in the Mormon church has helped shape him in to the man that he is. It will in no way be an influence on his role as president of the United States.

  3. Jon says:

    “We have been clear over the years that we do not agree with Mormon theology and do not consider it to be part of historic Christianity.”

    Charles, you did not answer the question. Well, you did, but in a very politician-like way. Let me make it a bit more direct. Do you believe that Mitt Romney is Christian, even in any sense of the word?

    • RC says:

      The definition of Christian as contained in the Dictionary is:

      1.) a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity.
      2.) a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ:

      So let’s break it down.

      1.) ” a person who believes in Jesus Christ”. As far as I know and have knowledge of, there has only been one Jesus Christ that has lived on the earth. He lived in the regions of Judea and died around 33-34 bc. If someone says that they believe in Jesus Christ ( and mind you, there is only one) then who are we to say “no you don’t”. There is no one religion on this earth that can hold, monopolize and claim Jesus Christ as their own. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whoso believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The last time I checked, there has been no one that has replaced the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior AND as the perfect Judge. The Bible is very straight forward, blunt and to the point, “whoso believeth in Him”. When Mitt Romney says he believes in Jesus Christ, then Mitt Romney believes in Jesus Christ (and mind you again, there has only been one Jesus Christ), then that makes Mitt Romney a Christian for 1.).

      2.) ” a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ”. What are the teachings of Christ? Well, the Bible is very plain about this subject. Jesus was asked, What is the great commandment. His reply, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, mind and strength and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” In other words: love, faith, virtue, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, charity, hope, humility, diligence, etc. etc. etc. Does Mitt Romney espouse such teachings? Does Mitt Romney show these teachings in his character (and mind you, no one is perfect)? Yes he does. Mitt Romney by definition, both by the dictionary and by the Bible shows that he follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. That makes Mitt Romney, on both accounts, Christian.

      Christianity stems from Jesus Christ. Since then, either the Catholic church was Christian or it wasn’t. If the Catholic Church was Christian, then how is it possible that all of Protestantism is Christian as well – knowing that they are a total breakoff from the Catholic Church? If the Catholic church was not Christian, then how is it possible that all of Protestantism is Christian – when they broke off of a non-Christian church? Does that not mean then that there was no “Christian” church on the earth from Jesus until the Protestant movement? And who gave the Protestant movement the authority to start a Christian church in the first place?

      It’s still puzzling to me, how there are so many “Christian” churches in the world and not one of them, not one, believes the same doctrine. Is God the author of so much confusion? When God sends his Holy Spirit to tell us truth, He certainly ain’t going to lie to someone and tell the truth to someone else. He just don’t work that way. Either it is true or it’s not……………..

      Mitt Romney is Christian, no doubt about it.

    • Charles Mitchell says:

      Jon –

      To be clear, your question was not Jacob’s question, and based on the e-mail I received from him today, Jacob was satisfied with my answer. Having said that, I’m happy to answer your different question. :-)

      As I blogged the other day, I don’t know Mitt Romney personally. I don’t speculate on the eternal destinies of strangers, or the details of which of their church’s doctrines they love and which they don’t. (Do you know whether Sen. Santorum or Speaker Gingrich holds to every Roman Catholic doctrine?) And I don’t refuse to vote for people whose eternal destinies I don’t know or to whom I haven’t given a detailed theological exam. As I wrote above, what matters is a politician’s values. Those can be discerned with relative ease based on his life and actions. I think you’re fooling yourself if you think you can divine with any degree of certainty what a man’s eternal destiny or precise theology is based on what he says on television. You risk falling for people who use the evangelical-ese that you want to hear and then disappoint you in office. Need I name names?

      What is not speculation is what I said: The LDS church is not part of historic, orthodox Christianity as defined by the creeds to which Christians have held for many years. Beyond that, it is between Gov. Romney and God.

      Thanks,
      Charles

    • Brandon from NJ says:

      Jon, whether or not someone really is Christian is a matter of personal conscience. Can I really know if someone down in their heart believes Jesus Christ, or Jesus of Nazareth, was the Son of God? Truth is, I can’t know, because thankfully, knowing the intents of someone is only what God can do. Again, I could argue with the others on this board all day long about whether or not Romney is Christian, it wouldn’t do me any good. A person can apparently say they believe, but really not really believe, as some people have admitted that they were actually agnostic or atheist after supposedly being theist for a time, and vice versa. Again, I don’t know what some person’s thoughts or desires are, but all the more reason for me to recognize some of my issues as being between myself and God on plenty of matters.

      But what I can do is think about how Romney would act, based on what he has done, or how he has acted as a leader so far. Which to me as an observer, isn’t all that bad. Again, it’s not about me electing my local minister, it’s about me electing an executive who can recognize his constitutional role in checking and balancing the actions of Congress and the Supreme Court, and so far Romney isn’t all that bad from the looks of it.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Charles, that was a perfect response to Jon. I do not know if Governor Romney is a Christian or not. I do know that Mormons believe some things that are not in the bible, just like Catholics do. But as far as his personal relationship with the Lord goes, that is between him and God. I don’t know him personally, so I can’t assume I know one way or another. I do know that he has outstanding values and seems to live by them. He has integrity, compassion, humility, and from what I can tell, is a great husband and father. He is pro-life and pro-tradtional family. I respect him greatly for his values. I pray that he would have a deeper understanding of the word of God and be able to accurately interpret it whenever he reads it. I pray that way for all people.

  5. Jon says:

    Charles, Terry, Lisa, Kate, RC, & Stephanie,

    First of all, let me apologize to you all. I never meant to upset anyone, and my question was a sincere inquiry.

    When I read what Charles had written,“We have been clear over the years that we do not agree with Mormon theology and do not consider it to be part of historic Christianity” I wondered if he personally felt, in his own opinion, that Mormons could in any way be labeled as “Christian”. So I asked the question, but did so rather impetuously. My wording of the question was less than stellar, and, as Terry correctly pointed out, this was not the proper forum for asking it. I should have sent an email directly to Charles. I was wrong.

    Part of my impetuosity on this particular topic comes from my own experiences in life. Judging from the responses, it will probably come as a surprise to some of you to learn that I, myself, am LDS, and so is my wife. My wife is the most kind, loving and Christ-like person I have ever known. She agonizes over what she considers to be her “faults”, and truly strives every day to follow the example of Jesus Christ, to be like Him, to say the things He would say, and do the things He would do. She judges no one. All who meet her feel her love and almost immediately come to love her in return.

    Here is the problem. She makes a new friend. This new friend thinks the very things about her that I have described above. They make plans to get together, to have our children play together. And then it happens. This new “friend” discovers that my wife is a Mormon. The reaction varies from cold silence and unreturned phone calls to outright condemnation and being told that she will spend eternity in hell. I cannot count the times that this has happened. And, invariably, my wife, the most Christ-like person I have ever known, is told that she is not a Christian. And why is she not a Christian? Because she does not adhere to a traditional, “historic”, man-made, 4th century creed.

    I guess Charles’ wording triggered something in me. So I was wondering if there was a place, ANY place at all, in Christianity for my Christ-like wife, since there was no place for her in “historic Christianity”.

    I have said my peace. I am sorry to have let my personal issues bubble over into this forum. I promise that it won’t happen again. As I said before, it was not my desire to upset or offend anyone. I must say that all posts made by others as a result of my ill-conceived question were excellent. I fault none of you in your responses. In fact, I greatly appreciate your insights, and agree with them.

    Please accept my apology.

    Jon

    • Kate says:

      Jon,
      No need to apologize. Your post didn’t upset me. I’m just tired of hearing the same old thing over and over again. I know who I am, know what I believe and no matter how hard I try, I guess I need to accept that there some who can not be convinced otherwise. Please tell your wife that I am so sorry that she has had to endure such prejudice and ignorance. We recently lived in Texas and have since moved. It was a bit of a shock when some of my non-LDS friends replied to phone calls and e-mails. They cried when we left and acted like we were such wonderful friends until we were gone. It certainly isn’t Christ-like behavior from some that profess that they are a better christian than myself.

    • Brandon from NJ says:

      No need to apologize Jon, plenty of us have phases of how we understand things, I have had plenty of my own questions to deliver here on these forums, but hey, the group here is quite a hospitable bunch.

  6. Hannah Rebekah says:

    Evangelical’S Highest Authority Says Mormons Are Christians!!!

    The Bible says so….Sola Scriptura! For those Christians who say Mormons are not Christian….well…they are adding to the Bible? Since they claim they are bound by the Bible as their only and final authority…then they are not bound to their Pastors, the demagogues, other Anti-Mormons, the counter-cult movement, other books & websites that say so because it’s just someone’s opinion (Anti-Mormon polemics). The Bible has already defined who is a Christian and is the final authority. If they are not bound by the Bible (Sola Scriptura) as they claim, they are then the biggest hypocrites, they talk out of both sides of their mouths and have lose all creditability…they turn on their own true authority and make it up as they go along.

    Mormons do not need anyone else to define who we are because the Lord has already done that, in the Bible and in modern day revelation. The name given to his saints in this day, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears this out.

    Since the “less than Christian” remarks of the Texas Pastor the conversation has been pretty interesting of how many others hold his views as well as those who may not speak it outloud. I’ve seen a number of appeals that Mormons are Christians based on definitions in dictionaries. I just wanted to take that one step further using the Bible to prove that Mormons are Christians and making an appeal to their Sola Scriptura belief. We know that southern Christians used the Bible (Sola Scriptura) to defend slavery even unto death (Civil War). I’m curious how they are going to dance around this one…because they will or probably already have. If they do then they are turning on their Sola Scriptura belief.

    AND…I would like our very astute LDS minds and scholars here to elaborate on this argument and put forward the very best parts to make a clear, succinct statement that is to the point. Let’s see who can frame it the very best.
    In the Bible the word Christian is used three times in reference to Christ’s followers or disciples. (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28 & 1 Peter 4:16.)

    This is how Strong’s Bible Concordance defined “Christians” and “disciples” as used Acts 11:26.

    CHRISTIAN:
    Christianos – Christos; is Greek; a Christian, i.e. FOLLOWER OF CHRIST:–Christian
    http://www.sacrednam…GRK55.htm#S5546

    DISCIPLE:
    Manqanw – Manthano; is Greek; a learner, i.e. pupil: disciple.
    http://www.sacrednam…GRK31.htm#S3101

    The Lexicon tell us this:

    Christian:
    http://www.bluelette…ngs=G3101&t=KJV

    Disciple:
    http://www.bluelette…1&t=KJV&page=10

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