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January 26, 2012

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I don't view Roman Catholics as Christian either - they've got a neolithic fertility goddess tacked on, and a human treated as divine - in the sense of being infallible. So like the Mormons, they believe in Christianity Plus.

****I’ve never heard Mormons called Protestant before. Mormons don’t consider themselves Protestant.****

It's nice to see you offer an accurate observation about religion for once, HS. The NYT writer is similarly (surprisingly) on the money:

****The real issue for many evangelicals is Mormonism’s remarkable success and rapid expansion.****

This, coupled with Mormons' insistence that they are Christian when they are not, is what drives evangelicals NUTS. That's why I hated Mormons, at any rate. (I don't hate them anymore, because maturity has made me realize that they share my values and are mighty fine folks, but I did when I was younger and more tribal.)

Mormonism is the Christianity what Bernard Madoff is to Judaism.

"Mormonism is Christianity, plus some rather stupid ideas" -- Sam Harris

The US military considers Mormonism a protestant faith, and Mormon chaplins are considered protestant.
Not saying that's authoritative.

There's some dispute in the Christian circles I run in about Mormons. Some hold that Mormons are a particularly odd sort of heretics---appealing to the way the Moslems were viewed (Nestorian heretics on steroids) when they first burst onto the scene. Others hold that Mormons are an entirely different religion altogether--one might view them as Moslems minus most of the bad parts, 'bad parts' being relative to the sensibilities of a typical Westerner in our era.

In his "The American Religion," Harold Bloom classifies the Mormons as Gnostic Christians, but not Protestants. This seems to be the most useful viewpoint. Of course, Bloom believes that much of American religion is infused with gnosticism, including Judaism and the various forms of Christianity.

As to whether Catholics are Christian, the Catholic Church predates the Christian Bible, and the Catholic Church created the Bible. Meaning, the Church chose the books, the authoritative texts for each book and the arrangement of books. Protestants repudiate the Catholic Church's choices for some of the books of the Old Testament, but they accept the Churches choices for the New Testament. And therein lies a problem, because the New Testament authors quote the Catholic Church's Old Testament (basically the Septuagint, which is of Jewish origin), which is one reason the Church chose the books it did.

It is possible to see Mary as a fertility goddess, but then for consistency you probably should take Jesus to be Osiris.

Does anyone really care nowadays?

If a Mormon wants to join a Christian church, of any denomination, he or she has to be baptized.

So why are most Mormons so nice? Every single one I've ever known was decent. Now these were all White Mormons in the US. But I doubt it's the religion. It must be something specific to that population. This would seem like support that different White populations can have differing temperaments based on genetics. Isn't most of the growth in that religion from having so many children from the original population? I mean here in US.

I grew up in Mormon country, because of large families our high school was probably half LDS. I'd agree they're a separate religion but more broadly close to Protestants than anything else (they share deification of Christ, a personal relationship with God, salvation in Christ, immersion baptism). I don't know of any Protestant church that considers them Christian, though.

Christians who do not accept the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church... well, they're either Orthodox or Protestants. Mormons ain't Orthodox, ergo they're Protestants. And they're a lot more Christian than Unitarians or the Episcopal Church USA or similar degenerate creeds.

"Mormonism is to Christianity as Christianity is to Judaism.'

No, Islam is to Christianity as Christianity is to Judaism.

Are Anglicans Protestant? I was in an Anglican church in England and they had some literature that stated they are not Protestant. Protestantism comes from Martin Luther and Anglicanism come from Henry XIII. I never really thought about that until I read that.

[HS: King Henry VIII's breakaway from Catholicism is a key chapter of the Protestant reformation.]

If you can get past all of the crazy Mormon beliefs, they are very good people.

@dearieme
"I don't view Roman Catholics as Christian either - they've got a neolithic fertility goddess tacked on, and a human treated as divine - in the sense of being infallible. So like the Mormons, they believe in Christianity Plus."

When I was growing up I was told that the "Catholics pray to Mary" thing was an ignorant slander propagated by Protestants. Then as an adult I saw a priest habitually do just that at the end of Mass. Also some Catholic churches place their patron saint (rather than JC) above and behind the altar (even some Catholics find this heretical).

But their intellectual tradition is second to none.

Nice job by Romney in tonight's debate. Someone mentioned he had hired a new debate coach. It shows.

Suppose there was a guy who believed everything that mainstream protestants believe, but also believed that Elvis Presley was the most important prophet (besides Jesus), and that his music was divinely inspired. Would he be a protestant? I would argue yes, and would make the same case for Mormons.

HS -- Anglicanism kept the form and doctrine of the Catholic Church, save replacing the Pope with the King. Otherwise the theology and belief system and CULTURAL aspect is the same. Very "Catholic" that is Saints Days, lots of parties, a crowded liturgical calendar, ornate services, and the like.

CALVINISM is very ... Nordic. Fischer of Albion's Seed compared Puritan services to a "Meeting and a Lecture." Calvinist churches tend to be modest, spare, uncomfortable, suited to a sober, inward navel gazing (the cultural/ethnic fault of Nordic peoples) and self-absorption. Its theology of absolute depravity of man, an elect pre-ordained saved few, God's absolute will, basically a few godly among the unholy wicked, has no counterpart among Catholics. Say what you will, the Dominican Friars among the Conquistadors (and Bernal Diaz del Castillo himself) had concerns for the native Indians souls, and figured they could be saved and should be; Calvinists thought that even if CATHOLICS adhered to Calvinist doctrine they'd all go to Hell.

Again this is probably ethnic/cultural based. A legacy of Nordic/Viking/Germanic tribal inwardness and navel gazing/self-obsession. Everything is always about them, sometimes in good or bad ways. For Catholics, it is a universal faith. A reminder of Roman ways.


"
[HS: King Henry VIII's breakaway from Catholicism is a key chapter of the Protestant reformation."

I did some research and found this:

The word “Protestant” is often loosely and to a large extent inaccurately applied to Anglican Churches. It is unfortunate that many Anglicans think of themselves as “Protestants.” In fact, Anglicanism is “Protestant” only in a most limited sense. It is Protestant in that it “protested’ against and rebelled from the supreme authority of the Pope over all other bishops. It is also Protestant in that it “protested” against and set out to reform the many abuses which had crept into the worship and faith of the Roman Church of which the English Church had so long been a part.
In these limited senses, Anglicanism is indeed “Protestant,” and honorably so. However, the objection to thinking of all Anglicanism primarily in terms of “Protestant” is that it serves to obscure the fact that, theologically and historically, Anglican Churches are Catholic. They retain the full and complete faith of Christianity, in its Sacramental form, and they are in continuity with the primitive Church, adhere to the ancient Creeds and base themselves firmly on the Scriptures. These, after all, are the marks of Catholicism, shared with the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, some Lutherans and others."

http://www.christchurchanglican.org/ang_topix/protestant.html

Are Anglicans Protestant? These days they're not even Christians any more. Gay priests, emphasis on "tolerance" and "inclusion", no respect for Scriptural authority or Christian tradition -- in short, they're a bunch of liberal twits who might as well be Unitarians.

As I understand it, Mormons believe that G-d has a physical body and lives on some planet. That He was originally a human but evolved into being G-d. And that, if we're good Mormons, we can also evolve into a G-d.

This means that Mormons aren't even close to orthodox, historical Christianity. Even Islam is closer.

Of course, Mormons argue that historical Christianity doesn't accord with what Jesus taught, and that's why he re-established his Church in the US of A.

But this doesn't explain why Jews also belive that G-d is a spiritual. As Maimonides summarized it some time later, "I believe with perfect faith that G-d does not have a body. physical concepts do not apply to Him."

Kill them all, the Lord will know his own.

eggwhite: Mormons are ethnically New Englanders. New Englanders have self control, refrain from violence, and have a strong work ethic.

I think that Mormons are Christian, but just a more divergent branch than we are used to. In the US we tend to have a very narrow view of what is Christian but there were all sorts of offshoots in Asia and Africa. Even eastern Orthodox seems exotic. The fact that they have another book isn't that big of a deal, some Christians don't believe in the trinity, and Copts have a different view of Jesus.

Logically Orthodox and Lutherans should be considered very similar because they both are set apart from Catholicism by rejecting the Pope, but in practice Lutherans and other Protestants are considered to be closer to Catholicism because of history. History and culture matter more than theology. Theology isn't all that important to religion unless you are a priest.

Still if we go from a purely theological point of view Mormons are still Christian. My definition of Christian is someone who would fully agree with this statement: "Jesus Christ was the son of God and died for our sins"

Off topic but Robert Hegyes who played Juan Epstein on Welcome Back Kotter passed away. I'm so sad. That show was great. Sure a crime wave was overtaking America and the show perhaps inaccurately portrayed NAMs and prole whites as jovial and benevolent but I can't help but feel the 70's were a more innocent time despite whatever the media says about the era.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVS3WNt7yRU

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that American Protestants, by and large, have deviated a long way away from the traditional Christianity practiced in Europe from say, 300 AD to now. So while theologically Mormons are in no way Christians, culturally Mormons are certainly very close to American Protestants. Of course culturally Mormons are not close to traditional Christians, i.e. Catholics, Greek Orthodox or even European Lutherans.

Just goes to show the difference between what people profess to believe, and their actual behavior. Theologically Islam is actually much closer to traditional Christianity than is Mormonism. LDS is almost as wierd on paper as Scientology. But luckily most Mormons (like most Catholics, or adherents of any major religion) seem to care more about the lifestyle and cultural aspects of their religion than what they are supposed to believe.

@ eggwhite "So why are most Mormons so nice? Every single one I've ever known was decent."

It is cultural. As I think Razib Khan pointed out, Mormons are mostly descended from New England Puritans. To this day even atheistic descendants of New England Puritans in NH, VT, and Maine tend to be more decent, more law abiding, and more conscientious than other American Protestants. White evangelicals tend to be white trash (i.e. Scots-Irish), and so less intelligent, more violent and with less self control than Mormons.

unless you believe its true, I think you'd have to say it belongs to the protestant tradition, emerging from the same place and time and from the same metaphsical, moral and social assumptions as 7th day adventism, jehova's witness, pentacostalism, etc.

Peter A. makes some very good points two commentators above.

I'm an Episcopalian. Much of the difficulty of identifying Anglican churches as Protestant or Catholic comes from a movement of Anglican priests and intellectuals in the 19th century to deliberately make the Anglican communion more Catholic. Before there was no confusion, the Anglican Church was definitely Protestant, albeit with bishops, and the numerous leaders who established American independence in the late 17th century all thought of themselves as Protestant (and there weren't even Anglican or Episcopal bishops here then, though that is a side issue).

The Anglo-Catholics of the nineteenth century, a few of which wound up converting to Catholicism, were the first who argued that no, the Church of England was the medieval English Catholic Church that just got separated from Rome, and after a struggle they succeeded in reintroducing Catholic elements into Anglican architecture and services. The movement influenced the quite separate Episcopal Church in the United States (which historically originates more with the Church of Scotland than the Church of England). For a small denomination, there are several traditions within the Anglican/ Episcopal Church, some more Catholic, some more Protestant or even fundamentalist.

And not all are liberal, though it is news to me that liberalism disqualifies someone from being a Christian.

And as I pointed out above, every Christian denomination, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or whatever is quite clear on the fact that the Mormons are not Christians and that baptism is required for Mormons to join the Church. Among other things, the main Christian statement of faith is the Nicene Creed, which Mormons (along with other non-Christian groups like Unitarians) reject. Some commentators pointed out that there is more theological overlap between Christianity and Islam. Why the Mormons have chosen to obscure this is interesting, it could be a legacy of their being the only religion in the U.S. to be persecuted.

"the 70's were a more innocent time"

Not to mention the fact that adult women back then actually looked like adult women.

"it is news to me that liberalism disqualifies someone from being a Christian"

In principle this need not be true, but in practice it is clearly true. Liberalism has turned the Episcopal church into something nominally Christian but that actually worships the liberal gods of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion. The Episcopal Church has had bishops like John Spong who have denied core Christian doctrines like the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection of Jesus (and of course they have ordained women and homosexuals). Frankly I don't see how you can deny these core doctrines and still be a Christian even though you call yourself one.

The Mormons brought in "New Blood" from "refugees" from industrial wreckage from Northern England and Southern Sweden, Scotland and to a lesser extent Ireland, so definitely the original settlers

Also Joseph Smith had an old Irish descent (Nial of the Nine Hostages) and this marker is common in Mormons today.

Ed writes: "Why the Mormons have chosen to obscure this is interesting, it could be a legacy of their being the only religion in the U.S. to be persecuted."

Yeah. Well it wasn't exactly one-sided.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_massacre

Most of the animus Mormons drew early on had to do more to do with their polygamy than with the more heretical aspects of their faith by Christian standards. Polygamy is a serious threat to the cartel agreement that is monogamy that prevailed in the Anglosphere for a long time but is starting to break down in recent generations. The fact that I call it a cartel agreement should not be taken to indicate that I do not fervently support said cartel.

Mormonism is a product of a spiritual awakening era in America. It is basically only major religion created by America.

Go, America!

It looks like they were an weird offshoot of the protestants that found fertile soil in one of the awakening eras.

Judaism was one of the contributing streams to what became Byzantine civilization. It was also a source for Western civlization.

I tend to view Islam as what amounts to the Protestants of the Byzantine civilization.

I suspect that the Roman Catholic Church would like to reabsorb many of the Protestant churches. I don't think Mormonism is on their list.

I wonder how fast the Mormon church is growing in the US? I have heard different things. I read somewhere that they actually make very few converts. Most of their growth is beucase of the big families. But I don't know if that's true?

One thing I do know. The Morman church demands a lot. YOu can't just show up once in a while for a service. Mormons tithe. They fast one day a month. They attend long services. They have required family nights. I suspect that this all builds a lot of discipline which explains some of their success in the world.

PSP, a religion that demands sacrifice from its members will defeat a religion that demands nothing from its members. Mormons vs. Unitarians? No contest. How many people would die for the Episcopal Church? The Catholic Church? For Islam? Answer that question and you know which faith will prosper over the long term.

One of my favorite websites is the Recovery from Mormonism website at exmormon.org.

You have to have some working knowledge of Mormonism to really enjoy that site.

"One thing I do know. The Morman church demands a lot."

They also exclude non-Mormons from Temple Weddings.

It´s pretty simple: if you accept the Nicene creed, you´re a Christian. if you don´t, you´re not.
The Creed is pretty straightforward: "credo in unum deum, ect: It is basically the same for all christian Churches, Catholic,Orthodox, Lutheran, Evangelical, Armenian, Coptic, etc.
I´m not sure Mormons can be said to adhere to the Nicene Creed: Even if they did, the problem is the other stuff they believe in that Joseph Smith made up/added to the faith.
I can´t speak for other denominations, but I´m sure the Roman Catholic Church does not consider Mormons to be Christians. They probably don´t even qualify as heretics. Too far gone is the verdict. And believe me, modern day ecumenism knows no bounds in its attempts at outreach.

"Then as an adult I saw a priest habitually do just that at the end of Mass. "

Huh? What? A parish priest can't just make up his own Order of Mass. Where do you see this in the Mass?

Mormons do reject the Nicene creed. I'm not going to go into the reason why, and I'd reject the notion that accepting the creed (an uninspired invention of the 3rd century) is necessary in order to be a Christian (I'd argue that it is accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, the only source of salvation), but then I'm also biased.
This comes down to definitions. From a purely scholarly POV, a reasonable argument can be made to include Mormons in the Christian branch of religion, but as an off-shoot that could be described as 'restorationist' (a term I've heard used by the more scholarly Mormons). There are enough differences between Mormons and Protestants that it doesn't make sense to mix them together, but they are clearly ascribing to Christian theology when it comes to issues of salvation.

Finally, a topic that I have some expertise on.

"Islam is to Christianity as Christianity is to Judaism."

No. Islam has some Christian/Judaism-themes within it, most likely stemming from the Gnostic Christians that mohammed interacted with, but mohammed was never himself a Christian like Jesus was a Jew, but whose followers were different.

Mormonism can be rightly called the heresy of the heretics.

One recent Baptist preacher complained that Mormons aren't true Christians because their Church was founded back in the 1830s, as opposed to his denomination which was founded back in the 1630s...

Protestantism can rightly be called a heresy against unity. Protestant ecclesial communities can agree with the Church on every single issue, except that they have to be a part of the Church founded by Jesus, and submit to the successor of St. Peter, then that makes them a heretic.

In that regard Mormonism is considered to be a protestant denomination, in that they/Joseph Smith are protesting what the Church is and teaches, and want to make their own Church in their own image.

On the other hand Mormons are also not considered Christians in the eyes of the Church, their understanding of the Trinity is disordered, among many other aspects of their beliefs. When a Mormon converts to the Church, he or she must be baptized in the Church. They have lost too much of the Truth to be called "Christian".

The Church tends to view Mormonism the same way it views Hinduism, or any other non-Christian faith: 1. They are wrong. 2. They are a fact of life in this fallen world in which we live in. 3. They should be treated with respect. 4. We should work like hell to get them into the Church.

I personally have a lot more respect for Mormons than most mainline Protestants. Joseph Smith, and all of Mormonism for that matter, have taken the insane and anti-Biblical idea of Sola Scriptura to its logical conclusion: When scripture doesn't say what you want it to say, simply add or subtract books from it until it does.

Mormonism is a perfect example of why we need things like the Pope, the Magisterium, the Church hierarchy with all of its aspects. They are there to make sure that crazier members of the Body of Christ don't go Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard on us.

"Mormons are NOT Protestant"

Why in the world should anyone care what the theological doctrines of Mormonism are if Mormons don't act differently than Protestants do?

Mormons are so similar to other Christians that I had them mentally categorized as generic Interior West Americans and had no idea they were different from other Protestant groups until Romney started running.

"the more heretical aspects of their faith by Christian standards."

Protestants are technically a heretical sect of Christianity, as far as conservative Catholics of old are concerned, because Protestants deny the supremacy of the pope.

The Mormons' only real political mistake is that their heretical Christian sect's doctrines is younger than the older heretical Christian sect's doctrines.

Anti-Mormonism is a ridiculously stupid bias.

"Protestants are technically a heretical sect of Christianity, as far as conservative Catholics of old are concerned, because Protestants deny the supremacy of the pope."

Actually, most Protestant sects are older than the doctrine of papal infallibility, which became dogma only in 1870. In fact, one can find pre-1870 Catholic catechisms that state the idea of an infallible pope is a Protestant lie.

"I'd reject the notion that accepting the creed (an uninspired invention of the 3rd century)"

As opposed to the biblical canon, which was crystallized in the 4th century. (the Council of Nicea was also 4th century)

"is necessary in order to be a Christian (I'd argue that it is accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, the only source of salvation), but then I'm also biased."

What verse says anything about accepting anyone as one's personal savior? What about baptism?

Anyone who doesn't believe that authentic Christian creed was fully crystalized in the council of Nicea in the fourth century is a snake handler plain and simple.

Now some aspects of Catholic metaphysics are attempts to rationalize the world based upon the creed (i.e., purgatory etc.). But in general as an atheist who went to mass every Sunday as a kid, the Mass really is the most authentic form of Christian worship, most closely tied to the biblical texts (not just cherry picked texts), but the whole damn thing.

Nah.

Mormons believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ and of no one else. That makes them Christians.

They also were a development from New England Congregationalists (Puritans) and Presbyterians, primarily. That I think leaves them as Protestants.

Many people compare and constrast the Mormons with the other Religion spawned in that period Mary Baker Eddys Christian Science. Unlike the Christian Scientists Mormons have always embraced medical technology, partly because Joseph Smith was saved from a deadly bone infection as child by an Experimental surgery at Dartmouth College.

In turn, it seems Dartmouth Medical school is becoming of an honorary LDS ward, as many western born LDS young people come back to New England for education.

1) Not all Protestant faiths insist on rebaptism of converts from Mormonism. At least one (Episcopalians or Lutherans, I believe) accept Mormon baptism as valid.

2) Mormons in some ways are closer to Catholics than Protestants, including numerous sacraments and a strict hierarchy, including a human intermediary with G-d (a "Prophet" instead of a pope).

3) Whether you want to define them as Christian depends upon how broadly or narrowly you choose to define Christianity. Mormons have most of the basic Christian tenets down, but diverge in fairly signifcant ways. They are still much closer to traditional Christianity (Catholic or Protestant) than Christianity is to Judaism.

4) I suspect that many or most Catholics, Jews, and even mainline Protestants would feel more comfortable at a Mormon church service than at an evangelical one. Bored, but comfortable. Increasingly, evangelical = stupid.

5) Whoever said that Muslims are closer than Mormons to Christian theology is an idiot. Perhaps on certain theological points they are, but overall it's not even close.

6) Where Mormonism excels as a religion is in the practice, not the theology. Whatever its theological weaknesses, the LDS Church does a great job in making your "ward" (congregation) into a second family, where people look out for each other and are held to high standards of personal conduct. Unlike most other denominations, in the LDS Church it is the better educated who generally remain members, in part a reflection of the self-control (e.g., abstinence from alcohol, drugs, and pre-marital sex) expected of a faithful Mormon.

If Mormons weren't actively recruiting new, mostly Third World converts, I suspect their average IQ and income would be rising relative to the general population. Not only are the better educated more likely to remain, but there seems to be a strong positive correlation between income and family size.

As for the Book of Mormon, the scripture Smith claims to have translated from "golden plates" given to him by the angel Moroni, I have read it twice but for the life of me can't figure out what the book adds to the LDS Church's day-to-day practice.

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