By Jack Kinsella
The Omega Letter
First it was the definition of marriage that was up for debate. Then, the definition of conservative. Now, the redefinition of what it means to be a ‘Christian’.
Before going on, let me make the following observation.
The ones most loudly questioning the definition of marriage are not married. The ones most loudly questioning the definition of conservatism are not conservatives.
And those questioning the definition of Christianity the most loudly are not Christians.
A married conservative Christian has no struggle with any of these definitions.
According to most mainstream media outlets, particularly early on, the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik was a “right wing Christian fundamentalist.” “Right-wing” is disparaging code for ‘conservative’ just as “left-wing” is code for ‘liberal’.
So the NYTimes was delighted to call Breivik a ‘conservative’. Adolf Hitler was also an example of a European ‘right-wing conservative.’ Hitler was a Catholic, so one might label him a right-wing Christian conservative.
It all depends on what one is trying to conserve - and how. Hitler wanted to conserve white German nationalism he claimed was being undermined by the Jews. Breivik wanted to conserve white European supremacy from the Islamic invasion.
To this end, both Hitler and Breivik spoke of their desired conservation of “European Christendom.” Breivik’s identification as a ‘right wing Christian fundamentalist’ emerged from this concept of conserving European Christendom.
One can also refer to ‘Christendom’ as ‘cultural’ Christianity. In that sense, as Breivik wrote in his manifesto, there is room for both ‘atheist’ Christians and ‘agnostic’ Christians.
On that basis, Breivik the mass murderer was declared a 'fundamental Christian'. Based on that principle, I am declaring myself Emperor of Europe.
Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck are both Mormons, but they bristle, as do most Mormons, at the suggestion that Mormons aren’t Christians.
Let me say up front that I like Mitt Romney for president. His religious views are irrelevant – I’m talking about Romney for President of the United States, not for pastor of my church.
(And, frankly, John McCain wasn’t exactly my definition of a devout evangelical Christian, either.)
And I like Glenn Beck’s politics. I agree with his assessment of the current state of the world. I concur with his understanding of the founding principles of American government. I am proud of his willingness to stand with Israel.
That doesn’t mean I think Mormons are Christians. I am not anti-Mormon. (I don’t think Jews are Christians, either. That doesn't make me an anti-Semite.)
The Washington Post published an op-ed piece entitled “Five Myths About Mormonism” that listed “Mormons Aren’t Christians” as Myth #2. The op-ed was prompted by a comment by Fox News host Ainsley Earhart who said that as a Mormon, Mitt Romney was “obviously not a Christian”.
Not so, says the op-ed’s writer, Joanna Brooks:
“We Mormons view ourselves as Christians. Many Christian pastors and scholars, however, point to theological technicalities that disqualify us from the mainline tradition. Some evangelicals do not see us as Christians for reasons rooted in antiquated anti-Mormon prejudice.”Let me respond in kind. I view myself as Emperor of Europe. There are a few technicalities, however, that disqualify me from claiming my throne.
First, I don’t live there and I’m not European. Secondly, Europe doesn’t have an emperor. Third, none of the actual Europeans believe I am the Emperor. And besides, those who don’t are simply giving in to anti-colonial prejudices.
But that in no way means I’m not Emperor. Didn’t you hear me call myself “Emperor?”
(You mean it takes more than merely saying so?)
According to Ms. Brooks, because she celebrates Christmas and reads the New Testament, she is a Christian.
(I know border Canadians who celebrate the 4th of July and watch Fox News. Does that make them Americans?)
The worldwide LDS Church chain of command — including all positions of clerical, institutional and fiscal authority — is entirely male. Women cannot hold the lay priesthood shared in by men age 12 and older. The church’s Proclamation on the Family declares that men “preside” over the household. Unequal gender language is also a part of Mormon temple worship and marriage ceremonies.An LDS apologetics website, entitled “The Christian Century” explained Mormonism using quotes from LDS officials from the past.
But Mormonism also has more progressive elements. Our concept of God is not exclusively male: We believe in a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother.
LDS apostle Orson F. Whitney continued that line of reasoning in a later speech, in which he said many figures outside Mormonism - including "Confucius, the Chinese philosopher; Zoroaster, the Persian sage; Gautama or Buddha of the Hindus; Socrates and Plato of the Greeks" - were "sent by the Almighty into many nations to give them not the fullness of the Gospel, but that portion of truth that they were able to receive and wisely use."“So-called” Christians do not live lives acceptable to the True God. If they could, then there would be no need of a Redeemer. “So-called” Christians cannot accept that Confucius, Zoroaster, Gautama or Buddha were Divinely inspired or that they were sent by the Almighty to share only a portion of the truth.
Whitney's views were ratified by then-LDS Church President Heber J. Grant and Apostle George Q. Cannon, who added, "Other nations and races have not been forgotten by the Lord. They have had great truths taught to them; and, in many instances, they have profited by them. There have been millions of pagans whose lives have been as acceptable to the true God as the lives of the same number of so-called Christians."
I am not slamming Mormonism. Every Mormon I've ever met was a wonderful individual. The Mormon family ethic is enviable. Their devotion to their faith is admirable.
It isn’t anti-Mormonism to say that Mormons aren’t Christians. If Christianity is defined by its doctrine, then that is simply an observation of fact.
Christianity is simple. It is so simple that even a little child can grasp it. It is that simplicity of doctrine that makes it so powerful. And so unique.
Salvation cannot come from church membership. Salvation does not come through good behavior. Salvation does not come through the observance of rites and rituals. Salvation comes by faith. Faith in what?
Faith that God, Who is eternal, stepped out of eternity and into space and time in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Jesus Christ, knowing our inability to save ourselves, lived a life acceptable to God in our place.
Having no sin debt of His own, He then suffered the penalty due for sin on MY behalf. Having paid my sin debt for me, He declared, “it is finished” and sat down at the Father’s right Hand.
That is the basic doctrine of Christianity. If you believe that, then you are a Christian.
On the other hand, if you believe that God was once a man who worked his way up to becoming God of this universe and that one day, you will also work your way up to godhood of your own universe, you are a Mormon.
And things that are different are not the same.
Glenn Beck Affiliation Leads to Calls for Boycott of Christian TV's TBN - Christian Post
How Complicated is Salvation? - BPB (Andy Woods)
Glenn Beck Speaks at First 'Restoring Courage' Event - BPB (James M. Hutchens)
Gallup: Perry Now Leads Bachmann, Romney by 21 Points Among Tea Party Supporters - CNS News
Is Mormonism Christian? - Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM)