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Tuesday, December 04, 20071196788800

Is Romney a Christian?

Cohen, R. (2007). Un-Mormon and unchristian. Washington Post. December 4, 2007. Available online: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/03/AR2007120301620.html (from The Corner).

Maybe.

Mormonism is as close to/far from Christianity as is Islam or Judaism. The main difference is one of emphasize: in spite of fundamental theological differences, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints writes the middle part of their name very large. The religion of submission, in spite of its origin as a variant of Arian Christianity, downplays its historical roots with the carpenter.

Broadly, Christians believe in the existence of two general natures, a created nature and a divine nature. God has a divine nature, man has a created nature. Uniquely, Jesus Christ has both natures residing in one person: hence the titles Son of Man and Son of God. Christ himself is one person of the Trinity, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

In Islam, man has a created nature and God has a divine nature. There is no "confusion" of these natures, no co-residing natures in any one person. Judaism is similar: Judaism differs from Islam not in its basic theology, but a more technical question of what was said when, where, and to whom.

Mormonism disagrees with Islam and Judaism, but with Christianity too. In Mormon theology, there is only one nature, which man and God shares. Mormonism, like Scientology, makes factual claims about the real world without pleading in the existence of a separate, divine realm. The difference between God and Man in Mormonism is essentially one of technology, wisdom, and power.

(While Mormonism is sharply different from most forms of Christianity, it probably approximates the beliefs of those early monolaters who spoke of El, Yahweh, etc. better than either Christianity, Judaism, Islam. Christianity, Islam, and Rabbinic Judaism emerged after exposure to Greek philosophy that dwelt on forms, nature, and persons. Mormonism, by contrast, was heavily influenced by the rise of science and a rejection of the natural-supernatural dichotomy.)

That said, the answer is not as simple as a "no."

Christ taught that the servant who says "no" and obeys his master's will is a better servant than that which says "yes" and disobeys. Christianity, in the end, boils down to hope, faith, and love (love most of all). Putting faith before love is putting the cart before the horse!

Secondly, there's the question of self-identification. While watching Amazing Race: Asia, I was surprised to see a team-mate speaking about how she is good friends with her partner in the game, "even though she is Catholic and I am Christian." By contrast, socioculturally Mormons in the United States are essentially indistinguishable from Christians.

Ultimately, the question shouldn't matter. Mitt Romney is a flip flopper to make John Kerry proud, has run away from the one thing he did right (health care reform), and now embraces an extreme position that he was rightly above as governor (immigration). Romney should lose fair and square.

Not because he (is? is not?) a Christian.

Comments

Cohan - Where did you get your information about what the Mormons belive? This is a direct quote from the offical "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints"

We can be thankful that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ reveals the true nature of man and gives purpose, meaning, and direction to life’s challenge of putting off “the natural man” King Benjamin taught that fallen man or “the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord”

Posted by: tp | Tuesday, December 04, 2007

But is the natural/supernatural dichotomy really something that is traditionally used as a dichotomy between Christianity and non-Christianity? Mormons believe in Jesus as the literal Son of God, have a concept of the Trinity (albeit a very different one than most Christians, but the nature of the Trinity has long been debated within Christianity) and see the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ as essential to salvation.

They don't quite fit in with C.S. Lewis's definition of "mere Christianity," but they get pretty close, and they self-identify as Christians, so that's good enough for me.

Posted by: Adam | Tuesday, December 04, 2007

tp,

The post is mine, not Cohen's.

Mormonism can be seen as a retcon [1] to Christianity, which keeps the same terminology but tries to place it in a more scientific context. While Mormons and Christians may believe that God lives in Heaven, for instance, Christians understand a supernatural realm, while Mormons believe that Heaven orbits Kolob, possibly Saggittarius A [2].

Now, that said, Mormonism has come closer to generic American Christianity over the years, and Christian authors have emphasizd that aliens could themselves be supernatural [3], so I don't want to make the distinction sharper than it has to be.

Adam,

Well said.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retcon
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolob#Modern_Mormon_interpretations_of_Kolob
[3] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/05/13/post-modern-christianity-post-modern-war.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What's with all the horrific spelling errors? They really wound your credibility.

Posted by: Eli | Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Welcome to tdaxp, where spelling, like pronounceability, is optional ;-)

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I don't know much about theological stuff but it's great to read about the different opinions of each people when it comes to religions. There should be more like this site on the internet.

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