According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Text & Culture - The Relevancy of God's Word to Contemporary Culture


Attending "Talking Points" a week ago I met each of the speakers (except Doug Moo who was being interviewed at the time), revisited many friends and made new friends. From the conference I came away with feeling "How vast is the spectrum of human experience found within the bible" as God uses those ancient experiences of believers and non-believers alike to speak to our own, more contemporary experiences, in new and personal ways! And that within the bible's rich tapestry of story and narrative is discovered again and again the salvific themes of "renewal, restoration, reformation, redemption, and resurrection."

For it is to these rich biblical themes that gives us warrant to discuss the Bible's relevancy between its ancient manuscripts and texts-of-yesteryear to that of our global cultures today. Which very themes have been presented within the body of this blog in a variety of forms and functions: to the ancient text, we've discussed hermeneutics, various theologies, and subject matters on personal awareness and apprehension; to culture, we've discussed, or have shown, how the bible is made relevant to our common lives and lifestyles. So that none of these subject matters are new here, but only revisited again and again by way of helps and decorum.

Overall, my favorite lecture was by Scot McKnight as he heatedly ripped through the several themes of (emergent) Christianity (at least to my way of understanding the Gospel) to some of my overly conservative evangelical brethren's consternation. These themes have most recently appeared in Scot's latest book, "The King Jesus Gospel," just newly published by Zondervan this past month. Here are the themes as I hastily captured them without further review to date:

  • What is Biblical Relevancy? Neither a mirror of culture nor a reduction of message
  • Culture, Compromise, and Corrupted Christian Traditions
  • The Primacy of Christology (New Covenant) over Soteriology (Calvinism)
  • God's Love Expressed in the New Covenant and through Salvation History
  • Biblicism and the MultiVocality of Scriptures (sic, Christian Smith)
  • Authority of Revelation v. Authority of Church Tradition
  • Discerning Truth & the Wisdom of God: All good theology leads to the gospel of Jesus
  • The Comprehensive Gospel v. Reductionism (creeds and confessions)
  • Cultural Criticism (sic, Peter Rollins): What is most relevant is most anti-cultural
  • Family Terminology in the Bible: God's love in the midst of family dysfunctionalism
  • Critique of the Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic (sic, Bill Webb): Paul is not a prisoner of a pre-set cultural hermeneutic (Ex. "slavery")
  • The Ethics of the Kingdom of God: - Personal & Social Justice in the Gospel of Jesus

I say to the consternation of some of the brethren present, but not to all of the brethren who were present. Simply because it was my unhappy experience to have had lunch with one group of pastors struggling with the reception of these emergent Christian themes - themes not intended for the conference's topics per se, and would only appear an hour later at McKnight's afternoon presentation when speaking to the "Relevancy of God's Word (text) to Contemporary Culture" (thereby making these emergent themes very relevant!). Which is why I intended to be present on this day, hoping to hear the emergent themes of Christianity freshly enacted in the ears of my fellowship's very conservative Reformed and Baptistic brethren, and to watch audience's reaction (which were graciously received in humble and studious fashion).

I began this blogsite six months ago because of the severe backlash which I had witnessed firsthand to Rob Bell's Love Wins book - both to sort out my own thoughts as well as to correct the many misstatements,  popular jokes and poor opinions of so many of my friends, family and fellowship. Thus, we have here explored each theme and topic of Emergent Christianity from a variety of perspectives and discussions, and I am beginning to find hope that my fellow conservatives and evangelicals are beginning to understand and embrace these same topics as well in their own way, however belatedly, if this conference is any indication.

Anyway, back to my story. I had unwittingly sat down amid a lively discussion about my pastor and church (Rob Bell of Mars Hill) as he is transitioning from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Los Angeles, California, to begin new ministries (announced but only a week earlier). And as quickly identified myself to help quiet the conversation down and then found as quickly again a layer of ice 3 layers thick extending across our lunch table making for my discomfort, try as I did to crack and break it at the simplest levels of gracious communication. Consequently, McKnight's later lecture was unforeseen, but a most welcomed reminder to my serving brethren, that Christ is larger than our ideas of Him, His message, or even his servants. And it was my prayer that God ministered to my tablemates that hour by opening their hearts just a crack to understand the courage it took for someone like Rob Bell to speak to the church's cultural conditions in its misconstrued Christian messages and misplaced tasks.

Later I found Dr. Watson to be pleasant and helpful as we talked at day's end on several matters of eschatology and hermeneutics - especially relating to Webb's Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic. His patient teaching earlier in the morning on several OT passages will give to the listener tremendous examples on how to relevantly exposit the bible in its original texts to today's culture. His method is at once plain and simple, but peppered with humor and personal insight, and was a solid review of how to teach the bible using the careful, considered means with which we have on hand through the Internet, research tools, and informed websites; helping to make plain and meaningful God's word in our studies and to those around us. As you listen you'll discover indeed that the Scriptures are relevant to our culture when discerned, divided, and handled aright without any additional need for hermeneutical gymnastics, delusions, misled suppositions, forced imaginations and whatnot.

Doug Moo presented at length a pedantic discussion on the new NIV Study Bible and the translation work he has done in committee with CBT (Committee on Bible Translation) as its long-time chairman in conjunction with  Biblica and Zondervans, as they together created an up-to-date dynamic equivalency version of the English Bible. The NIV's initial publication date was 1984 and after several transitions has produced its latest release during this month, October of 2011 (see the CT article further below). Hence, we all received as part of our attendance package, a gift from Zondervan Publishing of the new 2011 NIV bible.

Doug went on to explain how a common English word is translated into the vernacular which ended up not being too common at all when exposed by regional biases of linguistic naunce; the efforts of the many teams of scholars who work on their translation teams; and the difference between literal bibles (NASB, ESV), dynamic equivalency bibles (NIV, TNIV, HCSB), and meaning-by-meaning bibles (NLT, The Message) that occur along a wide spectrum of publications each serving a specific purpose for their readership at-large. Several articles ago within this blog, a video clip by the BBC was submitted showing how a team of scholars (not the CBT) were working on updating the ESV bible and was reviewed here: http://relevancy22.blogspot.com/2011/09/difficulties-in-translating-bible-esv.htmlReferring back to this blog article will give the reader an idea of the difficulty of splitting a word's nuance from its literary syntax found within a biblical passage and how a translation team cooperates to meet its objectives.

Lastly, Zondervan Publishing was present to vouchsafe several displays of academic study tools and pastoral/personal wares along a couple of tables where, to my surprise and great pleasure, I found my cousin's son (and thus my second cousin) representing the marketing department. From time-to-time I mention Mason's blog, "New Ways Forward," and was glad to visit with him; he is a very astute young man, showing broad and good discernment in matters of the Christian faith, and I would highly recommend reading his blog as you can (http://masonslater.com/). Mason's blog may also be found listed along the sides of this blog as well in the blogger section.

As always, may God's grace and peace be yours.

R.E. Slater
October 2011

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You can listen to each of the talks here:

Daniel R. Watson
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Kansas City, MO


2 - Click here for Doug Moo's Lecture
Douglas Moo, Ph.D.
Kenneth T. Wessner Professor of New Testament
Wheaton College, Chicago, IL

3 - Click here for Scot McKnight's Lecture
Professor of Biblical & Theological Studies
North Park University, Chicago, IL




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Talking Points at GRTS

by Scot McKnight
October 9, 2011

Last week Grand Rapids Theological Seminary hosted an event for pastors and students (and anyone else) interested in the connection of ancient text to modern culture. The event was called Talking Points: Text and Culture. Three different speakers, with Q&A, flexibility, and a generous break for lunch permitted all of us to interact over the presentations.

Dr Dan Watson, of Midwestern Theological Baptist Seminary, got us going with a talk about how culture informs the Old Testament, and his theoretical as well as illustrative examples were a good warm-up to the topic. Showing how culture informs that text is what many need to see all over again, and Dan offered plenty of examples.

At the heart of the issue of text and culture, of course, is translation, and GRTS invited Doug Moo, of Wheaton, who heads up the Committee on Bible Translation, which provides the translation for the NIV 2011 (all NIVs actually), discussed how the NIV translators worked: how they examined original text in original language, how they sought to create “natural” English, and how that involves both interpretation and seeking for natural English equivalents to what the text says. By all accounts, this was a special time for all of us.

My talk, after lunch, which had one of its goals to keep everyone awake and away from those early afternoon naps, was devoted to the theme of “cultural relevance,” and I developed seven themes — briefly of course.

Not enough thanks can be given, but to Joe Stowell and John Verberkmoes and Nate Clason I offer my appreciation for hosting a fine event — and to Zondervan for providing an NIV 2011 to each person.


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Correcting the 'Mistakes' of TNIV and Inclusive NIV, Translators Will Revise NIV in 2011
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2009/09/breaking_transl.html

"We fell short of the trust that was placed in us."

Ted Olsen
September 1, 2009

Note: An earlier version of this blog post said that Keith Danby's remark that "some of the criticism was justified and we need to be brutally honest about the mistakes that were made" was in regard to the Today's New International Version. He was discussing the earlier New International Version Inclusive Language Edition, released in the U.K. in 1996. I sincerely apologize for the error.

TNIV.jpgIn announcing a major revision of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society and Send The Light; or, IBS-STL) CEO Keith Danby said decisions surrounding the release of the NIV inclusive language edition and the 2002 revision, Today's New International Version (TNIV), were mistakes.

"In 1997, IBS announced that it was forgoing all plans to publish an updated NIV following criticism of the NIV inclusive language edition (NIVi) published in the United Kingdom. Quite frankly, some of the criticism was justified and we need to be brutally honest about the mistakes that were made," Danby said. "We fell short of the trust that was placed in us. We failed to make the case for revisions and we made some important errors in the way we brought the translation to publication. We also underestimated the scale of the public affection for the NIV and failed to communicate the rationale for change in a manner that reflected that affection."

Danby said it was also a mistake to stop revisions on the NIV. "We shackled the NIV to the language and scholarship of a quarter century ago, thus limiting its value as a tool for ongoing outreach throughout the world," he said.

"Whatever its strengths were, the TNIV divided the evangelical Christian community," said Zondervan president Moe Girkins. "So as we launch this new NIV, we will discontinue putting out new products with the TNIV."

Girkins expects the TNIV and the existing edition of the NIV to phase out over two years or so as products are replaced. "It will be several years before you won't be able to buy the TNIV off a bookshelf," she said.

"We are correcting the mistakes in the past," Girkins said. "Being as transparent as possible is part of that. This decision was made by the board in the last 10 days." She said the transparency is part of an effort to overhaul the NIV "in a way that unifies Christian evangelicalism."

"The first mistake was the NIVi," Danby said. "The second was freezing the NIV. The third was the process of handling the TNIV."

Gender-inclusive inclusion?

Doug Moo, chairman of the the Committee on Bible Translation (which is the body responsible for the translation) said the committee has not yet decided how much the 2011 edition will include the gender-inclusive language that riled critics of the TNIV.

"We felt certainly at the time it was the right thing to do, that the language was moving in that direction," Moo said. "All that is back on the table as we reevaluate things this year. This has been a time over the last 15 to 20 years in which the issue of the way to handle gender in English has been very much in flux, in process, in development. And things are changing quickly and so we are going to look at all of that again as we produce the 2011 NIV."

I don't think any member [of CBT] would stand by the NIVi today," Moo said. "But we feel much more comfortable about the TNIV." He expects many of the TNIV's changes to appear in the updated NIV.


"I can predict that this is going to look 90 percent or more what the 1984 -IV looks like and 95 percent what the TNIV looks like," he said. "The changes are going to be a very small portion of the whole Scripture package."

Nevertheless, Moo said, the NIV does not currently reflect developments in the last 25 years of scholarship in Bible translation. CBT has made 1200 changes to the text in its database since the TNIV's most recent 2005 revision. (About 100 of these, such as typos, appear in current print editions.)

"I sit in a church where the NIV is a pew Bible," he said. "But Sunday after Sunday I hear the preacher say, 'I don’t think the NIV is quite right here.' And I feel like saying as a member of the CBT, 'Yes, but we've changed that!'"

Likewise, he said, the NIV is a translation that strives to reflect contemporary idioms and there have been significant changes to the English language in the last quarter-century.

"The English is understandable but not natural to people anymore. It's not what people are saying day to day," he said.

For example, Girkins said, the NIV uses the term alien rather than foreigner. Using contemporary English is particularly important internationally, Danby said, because that in some parts of the world the NIV is used for teaching English as a second language.

A question of process

Most translation revisions are not met with as much fanfare as today's announcement. But most translations have not been on top of the best-seller list for a quarter century. Nor had other translation committees previously announced that they would not update their text. Most importantly, other translations had not been the focus of boycotts, Christian bookstore chain bans, Southern Baptist Convention resolutions, and other outrage that accompanied the TNIV's release.

"We're trying to do this right and be as transparent as possible," Girkins said. The NIV team has already created a website, NIVBible2011.com, to solicit comments from scholars and Bible readers. Moo says the CBT will read and consider every suggestion received by the end of the calendar year.

Is the team's repeated emphasis on transparency and openness an admission that World Magazine was right when called the TNIV a "Stealth Bible" in a 1997 cover story that was the first volley against the translation?

"We're not saying the TNIV was a stealth Bible," Girkins said. "But the ways it was brought to market weren't transparent. We didn't bring people with us and caught people by surprise. ... We made a big press announcement today because want people to get on the page with us. We don't want to imply that we're going to overhaul the NIV. We could be giving the impression that this is a lot bigger than it is."

Best seller

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association reports the NIV is still the best-selling Bible translation overall, though specific Bibles in other translations are outselling NIV Bibles. Last month, for example, the English Standard Version's Outreach New Testament and the New King James Version's Text Bible outsold the NIV's Adventure Bible. The TNIV is not among the top ten best-selling translations and no TNIV edition is among the best-selling Bibles. One bright spot for the TNIV, however, has been in sales to the Amazon Kindle e-reader, where the TNIV is the third-most popular translation (behind the NIV and King James translation).

The New International Reader's Version, a version of the NIV translated into simpler English in 1996, will stay as it is, Girkins said. The translation has had more commercial success than the TNIV; The NIRV Adventure Bible for Early Readers, for example, was last month's tenth-best selling Bible.





Mormonism & Christianity

My Take: This evangelical says Mormonism isn’t a cult
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/09/my-take-this-evangelical-says-mormonism-isnt-a-cult/?hpt=hp_t2

October 9, 2011

Editor’s note: Richard J. Mouw is President of Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school in Pasadena, California.

By Richard J. Mouw, Special to CNN

Some prominent evangelical pastors have been telling their constituents not to support Mitt Romney’s bid for the 2012 presidential nomination. Because Romney is Mormon, they say, to cast a vote for him is to promote the cause of a cult.

I beg to differ.

For the past dozen years, I’ve been co-chairing, with Professor Robert Millet of Brigham Young University - the respected Mormon school - a behind-closed-doors dialogue between about a dozen evangelicals and an equal number of our Mormon counterparts.

We have talked for many hours about key theological issues: the authority of the Bible, the person and work of Christ, the Trinity, “continuing revelations” and the career of Joseph Smith, the 19th century founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), better known as the Mormon Church.

We evangelicals and our Mormon counterparts disagree about some important theological questions. But we have also found that on some matters we are not as far apart as we thought we were.

I know cults. I have studied them and taught about them for a long time. It’s worth noting that people have wondered whether I belong to a cult, with a reporter once asking me: “Evangelicalism, is that like Scientology and Hare Krishna?”

Religious cults are very much us-versus-them. Their adherents are taught to think that they are the only ones who benefit from divine approval. They don’t like to engage in serious, respectful give-and-take dialogue with people with whom they disagree.

Nor do they promote the kind of scholarship that works alongside others in pursuing the truth. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, haven’t established a university. They don’t sponsor a law school or offer graduate-level courses in world religions. The same goes for Christian Science. If you want to call those groups cults I will not argue with you.

But Brigham Young University is a world-class educational institution, with professors who’ve earned doctorates from some of the best universities in the world. Several of the top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have PhDs from Ivy League schools.

These folks talk admiringly of the evangelical Billy Graham and the Catholic Mother Teresa, and they enjoy reading the evangelical C.S. Lewis and Father Henri Nouwen, a Catholic. That is not the kind of thing you run into in anti-Christian cults.

So are Mormons Christians? For me, that’s a complicated question.

My Mormon friends and I disagree on enough subjects that I am not prepared to say that their theology falls within the scope of historic Christian teaching. But the important thing is that we continue to talk about these things, and with increasing candor and mutual openness to correction.

No one has shown any impulse to walk away from the table of dialogue. We do all of this with the blessing of many leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some of whom have become good friends.

While I am not prepared to reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology, I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior.

I find Mormons to be more Christ-centered than they have been in the past. I recently showed a video to my evangelical Fuller Seminary students of Mormon Elder Jeffrey Holland, one of the Twelve Apostles who help lead the LDS church. The video captures Holland speaking to thousands of Mormons about Christ’s death on the cross.

Several of my students remarked that if they had not known that he was a Mormon leader they would have guessed that he was an evangelical preacher.

The current criticisms of Mitt Romney’s religious affiliation recall for many of us the challenges John Kennedy faced when he was campaigning for the presidency in 1960.

Some well-known Protestant preachers (including Norman Vincent Peale) warned against putting a Catholic in the White House. Kennedy’s famous speech to Houston pastors clarifying his religious beliefs as they related to his political leadership helped his cause quite a bit.

But the real changes in popular attitudes toward Catholicism happened more slowly, as Catholic Church leaders and scholars engaged in a new kind of dialogue with each other and representatives of other faith groups, most dramatically at the Second Vatican Council during the early years of the 1960s.

Cults do not engage in those kinds of self-examining conversations. If they do, they do not remain cults.

Those of us who have made the effort to engage Mormons in friendly and sustained give-and-take conversations have come to see them as good citizens whose life of faith often exhibits qualities that are worthy of the Christian label, even as we continue to engage in friendly arguments with them about crucial theological issues.

Mitt Romney deserves what every politician running for office deserves: a careful examination of his views on policy and his philosophy of government. But he does not deserve to be labeled a cultist.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Richard J. Mouw.


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Mitt Romney Responds To Anti-Mormonism:
‘Poisonous Language Doesn’t Advance Our Cause’
http://www.mediaite.com/tv/mitt-romney-responds-to-anti-mormonism-poisonous-language-doesnt-advance-our-cause/

by Frances Martel | 1:02 pm, October 8th, 2011

After half a weekend where the top news story was a debate whether his own religion was a “cult,” Mitt Romney took the stage at the Values Voter Summit today and shot back at those who would undermine his political prowess based on his religion, decrying “poisonous language” and, particularly, “one of the speakers who will follow me,” referring to anti-Mormon American Family Association representative Bryan Fischer.

RELATED Anti-Mormon Pastor To Anderson Cooper: Romney May Belong To A ‘Cult,’ But He Is Better Than Obama

Romney, preceded by a speech in which Bill Bennett explicitly shamed pastor Robert Jeffress for calling the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints a “cult” and hurting the Rick Perry campaign by proxy, thanked Bennett for his speech– “talk about hitting it out of the park,” he joked, a comment Perry had made about Jeffress. During his speech, Romney took a respite from political issues to remind the crowd that “decency and civility are values, too” and to note in particular that “one of the speakers who will follow me today has crossed that line, I think.” Attacking his “poisonous language,” he argued that it “does not advance our cause; it’s never softened a single heart or changed a single mind.” While he did not mention Jeffress, Fischer has made similar comments about the LDS church.

A report on Romney’s comments Fox News below:




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Bill Bennett: Jeffress comments on Mormonism 'bigotry'
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/65475.html

By ALEXANDER BURNS | 10/8/11 9:40 AM EDT Updated: 10/8/11 6:58 PM EDT


Conservative commentator Bill Bennett, speaking at the Values Voter Summit, rebuked the Texas pastor who described Mormonism as a “cult” here Friday afternoon.

Bennett, the former education secretary and conservative author, said that Baptist church leader Robert Jeffress had given “voice to bigotry” in his remarks.

Jeffress gave a fiery speech endorsing Rick Perry for president and later told reporters he did not believe Mitt Romney is a Christian.

“Do not give voice to bigotry. Do not give voice to bigotry,” Bennett said in his speech Saturday morning. “I would say to Pastor Jeffress: You stepped on and obscured the words of Perry and Santorum and Cain and Bachmann and everyone else who has spoken here. You did Rick Perry no good, Sir, in what you had to say.”

Bennett’s remarks came less than half an hour before Romney was scheduled to take the stage at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington.


Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/65475.html#ixzz1aT2zFOYJ


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For More Information on Mormonism

Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism

Theopedia - http://www.theopedia.com/Mormonism

MormonInfo.org - http://mormoninfo.org/

Scot McKnight's Website: Comments - http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/2011/10/10/romney-a-mormon-is-he-a-christian/#comments


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Jeff Goldberg, a Jew: “Mormonism isn’t Christianity”
http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/2011/11/02/jeff-goldberg-a-jew-mormonism-isnt-christianity/#more-21854

by Scot McKnight
November 2, 2011

Jeff Goldberg thinks he needs to step into this “is Mormonism Christianity?” issue:
One reason why is that Mormonism isn’t, in fact, Christian. Today’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t resemble a cult in any meaningful way. But its relationship to Christianity is similar to Christianity’s relationship to Judaism….

Just so we’re clear, I couldn’t care less whether Mormons are Christian, for two reasons: 1) I’m Jewish, so both Christianity and Mormonism (not to mention Islam) are a bit too arriviste for my taste; and 2) religious tests for public office are profoundly un-American. It says so in Article VIof the Constitution: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”…

Neither does Mormonism offend me aesthetically. I don’t particularly care about what secular culture — on Broadway and off — sees as evidence of its essential ridiculousness: the early dalliance with polygamy; the belief that every righteous Mormon gets his own planet; the sacred underwear; the off-putting absence of both acne and irony among Mormon youths. Christians believe in a virgin birth, after all, and members of my faith remove the foreskins from 8-day-old boys, just as our Bronze Age ancestors did (which bothers me not at all)….

Mormons themselves contend that “Christ is at the center of our worship, study, service and faith,” as a statement released by the church after Jeffress’s comment put it.
But theological honesty demands that we recognize that Romney would be the first president to be so far outside the Christian denominational mainstream.

There is much in Mormonism that stands in opposition to Christian doctrine, including the belief that the Book of Mormon completes the Christian Bible. Christianity had an established creed about 1,500 years before Joseph Smith appeared in upstate New York with a new truth, codified in the Book of Mormon, which he said was revealed to him by an angel named Moroni.

“The Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed settled the basic ideas of Christianity,” said Michael Cromartie, an evangelical who is vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Centerin Washington. “The canon was closed, and then Joseph Smith comes along and says that there’s a new book, an extra-biblical addition to the agreed-upon canon.”…

Nothing in Mormonism is quite as alien to Christian thought as the core assertion that God and man are of the same species.

“This is a canonical belief of Mormons, and it stands in radical opposition to the beliefs of the monotheistic religions,” Richard J. Mouw, the president of the evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary in California, told me. “Your people” — that is, Jews — “and my people would say that the fundamental sin here from the biblical point of view is that God is God and we’re not. There’s an ontological gap between creator and creation.”

When confronted by such questions about his religion, Romney shouldn’t defend its doctrines. He should defend the right of a Mormon to be president. And those Mormons drafted to defend their faith on the political battlefield shouldn’t argue that they are merely misconstrued Christians, a claim that won’t fly with pivotal Christian constituencies. Instead, they should assert that theirs is a legitimate and moral system of belief, and that a country that elected a black man named Barack Hussein Obama as president is certainly ready to elect an adherent of what [Mr.] Land calls the "Fourth Abrahamic faith." (sic, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Mormonism, as used in this sense - skinhead)