Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Extremely Brief Comparative of Mormonism and Christianity

It has been years since I took my last comparative religion course so I will keep this to what I remember. In other words, this will be brief.

As this is an election year much of social media is a buzz with the topic of religion, especially Mormonism. I am too young to remember the first Catholic who won a parties nomination but I have done some reading on the subject and find things today are quite similar to then. People still fear what they don't know, and they still spread that fear via misinformation. Today however, we have an advantage of setting the record straight with an ever widening audience because Al Gore created the internet. It's alright if you didn't laugh, I'm quite happy with an 'ugh'!

It is not my intent to prove one right the other wrong nor one better than the other rather to point out the similarities and differences in two schools of religious belief.

I've made it easy if you are a non-believer or a religious scholar. Just use the links provided and follow along.

On God
Mormons believe that God the Father was once a man who progressed to Godhood. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity but I am going to refute that idea." Smith also taught, "We are precisely in the same condition and under the same circumstances that God our heavenly Father was when he was passing through this, or a similar ordeal."

The History of The Church Vol. 6, Ch. 14, p. 305-6  reads, It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and that He was once a man like us. Yea, that God himself, Father of us all dwelt on the earth the same as Jesus Christ Himself did. You have got to learn to be gods yourselves.

"It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God has once been a finite being." LDS Presiednt Brigham Young

According to the Mormon Articles of Faith, "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be." (see Isaiah 43:10)

According to the Christian Bible, God has always been eternal God, (see Malachi 3:6) God was never a man, (see Numbers 23:19) God is Spirit (see John 4:24) not flesh. Nowhere in the Bible can it be found that God 'progressed' to Godhood rather just the opposite; God is God, always was God, always will be God.

On Jesus
Mormons say because they believe Jesus is divine, they are Christians. Christians respond that because Mormons don’t believe in accordance with the Nicene Creed (see below) promulgated in the fourth century that Jesus is also the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Jesus that Mormons have in mind is someone else altogether.

Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was the firstborn spirit-child of the heavenly Father and a heavenly Mother. Jesus then progressed to deity in the spirit world. He was later physically conceived in Mary’s womb, as the literal “only begotten” Son of God the Father in the flesh (though many present-day Mormons remain somewhat vague as to how this occurred).

Mormons also believe Lucifer is Jesus brother. Before you freak out about that let me explain; they are brothers in the same way all of humanity are brothers. We are all created by God the Father, and as His children, all are brothers. According to Mormon doctrine we are all created spirit beings who live in heaven with God where we develop into the person we are. When we reach the limit of our ability to progress in Heaven with God as spirit, we can choose to live away from Him on earth for a while by being born into a family. Now I've strayed ...

Biblically, the description of Jesus as the “only begotten” refers to his being the Father’s unique, one-of-a-kind Son for all eternity, with the same divine nature as the Father. Jesus is eternal (see John 1:1) deity, (see John 8:5) Jesus did not progress to deity but has always been God. (see Hebrews 13:8)

There are some similarities and stark contrasts between Mormonism and Christianity. This post only scratched the surface in two areas. I hope even in its brevity this information is helpful. If you read something here you believe posted in error, please leave a comment.

*Revision: My links work fine in draft form but for some reason are not translating to the post so I've added (see passage) after each entry.

The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Christian Choice

While there are many issues to discuss I will try to keep this post to a single topic or at least not stray too far. This year, not unlike every election year, I find myself thinking about abortion. I consider this topic not only because I am asked about it but also because like many other issues my thoughts are in process. I used to be a single-issue voter admittedly because I didn’t take the time to educate myself enough to make an informed decision nor did I take the time to deeply consider more than just my adopted view. This is no longer the case.

Single-issue politics are used to divide, making the one issue a cornerstone on which all others rely manipulating Biblical text to suit a personal agenda. The Bible is neither a conservative nor a liberal collection of literature rather a widely scoped story of hope. To take passages out of context knowingly is spiritually abusive.

I used to be bothered when people would ask why I am pro-abortion, or how could I be a Christian and vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Firstly, I don’t think I know anyone who is pro-abortion. Many of my brothers and sisters who are pro-choice are deeply concerned for the well being of the mother as much as an anti-abortion advocate for the unborn child. My problem with pro-life politics is the definition of life is exclusive. Pro-life politics excludes the lives of the mother, those on death row, women children and non-combatants living in countries considered our enemy as well as billions struggling to stay alive faced with disease and a scarcity of food or clean water. Pro-life politics does not consider those in this first-world nation who lack proper healthcare without which life would not be sustainable. In fact, many pro-life politicians have fought vigorously for an elimination of initiatives aimed at reducing infant mortality and early childhood problems, initiatives essential to promote health of the most vulnerable citizens. No, I am not pro-abortion, in fact, I am more pro-life than most.

The choice to take any life, whether by abortion, capital punishment, war, the inability to pay for healthcare, or withholding life-giving resources is always a cause for careful and prayerful consideration.