SBC Leader Labels Mormonism ‘Fourth Abrahamic Faith’

Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land called Mormonism “the fourth Abrahamic faith” in a discussion of controversy over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s religious affiliation.

Land, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Bloomberg’s “Political Capital” with Al Hunt he regards Romney’s church as neither a Christian religion nor a cult.

“I consider it the fourth Abrahamic religion–Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being the fourth,” he said. “Most evangelicals, certainly the ones I know–the polls show more than half–do not believe that Mormonism is an orthodox, Trinitarian, Apostolic, traditional Christian faith.”

While most observers believe it will be difficult to convince conservative evangelicals to vote for a member of a church that many consider an extra-Christian cult, Land has said from the start he doesn’t think Romney’s church affiliation is a “deal breaker,” but only Romney can address it.

Romney recently picked up a key endorsement from a Southern Baptist leader in South Carolina, Don Wilton, pastor of the largest Baptist church in Spartanburg and immediate past president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. On Tuesday the pastor of First Baptist Church retracted his endorsement, calling it a “personal mistake.”

The pastor of another prominent church in Texas, meanwhile, warned Baptist voters leaning toward Romney not to be misled into thinking they were voting for a Christian.

“Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise,” Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, said in a sermon on Sept. 30. “Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult.”

Land’s Monday comments about Mormonism echo quotes attributed to him in June by the Web site

“I would look upon Catholicism as an erroneous understanding of the Christian faith; that’s why I’m a Baptist, not a Catholic,” Land says. “I would look upon Mormonism as another faith in the same sense that I would look upon Islam as another faith. I think the fairest and most charitable way to define Mormonism would be to call it the fourth Abrahamic religion–Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third, and Mormonism being the fourth. And Joseph Smith would play the same character in Mormonism that Muhammad plays in Islam.”

Land said evangelicals who are “less charitable,” call Mormonism a cult, but he disagrees.

“A cult is a form of faith which does not comply with the essential teachings of the Christian faith but claims to be within the Christian faith or to be the true expression of the Christian faith, as opposed to being another religion like Judaism,” Land said.

According to the LDS Web site, Mormons believe Jesus Christ established his church, which after the death of the apostles was lost in a period called the Great Apostasy, resulting in the formation of many churches with conflicting teachings.

After centuries of darkness, the church teaches, God restored the true church of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith, bringing forth the Book of Mormon, supposedly ancient writings on golden plates that record God’s dealings with indigenous Americans, who, according to the book, are actually former Jews from the Lost Tribes of Israel.

“Jesus Christ, according to LDS doctrine, is also one of Heavenly Father’s spirit children who has attained godhood. Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three of many gods of other worlds.”

Another Southern Baptist seminary president, Albert Mohler, has said the greatest danger of electing a Mormon as president is drawing attention to the church as a mainstream American religion and the instant credibility it would give Mormon missionary efforts around the world.

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2 Responses to SBC Leader Labels Mormonism ‘Fourth Abrahamic Faith’

  1. Steve says:

    Here is the truth about the Mormon Religion.

  2. Bot says:

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Evangelical pastors of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion. The most recent inaccuracy, reported in TIME was Dr. Land’s comments that the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is a “Fourth Major Religion” analogous to Islam. This article helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity’s comprehension of baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. It would be impossible to describe First Century Christianity a “new major religion”. Perhaps evangelical Christians need to study more closely the First Century Christian church.

    Baptism: .

    Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified.

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing them.

    The Trinity: .

    A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration?

    The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: “There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one.”

    Scribes later added “the Father, the Word and the Spirit,” and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .

    Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God. ” . The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

    The Deity of Jesus Christ

    Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless.

    The Cross and Christ’s Atonement: .

    The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.

    Definition of “Christian”: .

    But Mormons don’t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. They believe Christ’s atonement applies to all mankind. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer.

    It’s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. . Early Christians had certain rituals which defined a Christian , which members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue today. . If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

    The Need for a Restoration of the Christian Church:

    The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this:

    “There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America, p. 502.)

    Martin Luther had similar thoughts: “Nor can a Christian believer be forced beyond sacred Scriptures,…unless some new and proved revelation should be added; for we are forbidden by divine law to believe except what is proved either through the divine Scriptures or through Manifest revelation.”

    He also wrote: “I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. The spiritual powers have been not only corrupted by sin, but absolutely destroyed; so that there is now nothing in them but a depraved reason and a will that is the enemy and opponent of God. I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among
    those who should have preserved it.”

    The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession.

    * * *

    · Christ-Like Lives:

    The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):

    1. Attend Religious Services weekly

    2. Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life – extremely important

    3. Believes in life after death

    4. Does not believe in psychics or fortune-tellers 5. Has taught religious education classes

    6. Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline

    7. Sabbath Observance

    8. Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith

    9. Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily

    10. Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen (very supportive)

    11. Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality

    LDS Evangelical

    1. 71% 55%

    2. 52 28

    3. 76 62

    4. 100 95

    5. 42 28

    6. 68 22

    7. 67 40

    8. 72 56

    9. 50 19

    10. 65 26

    11. 84 35

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