07 September 2005

Peddling Mormonism as mainstream Christianity

Greetings from Salt Lake CityBack in May, a few weeks before I joined the Christian blogosphere, there was quite a lot of controversy when an erstwhile evangelical publisher (Eerdmans) released a book by Mormon scholar Dr. Robert Millet (professor of religion at Brigham Young University). The book, (A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints) was Millet's attempt to argue that Mormonism is both biblically and creedally within the bounds of historic Christian orthodoxy.

I realize the controversy over that issue is yesterday's news as far as the blogosphere is concerned. Both Eric Svendsen and James White (among others) did a superb job responding to some of the post-evangelical quislings who thought it was wonderfully even-handed and genteel for Eerdmans to be broad-minded enough to publish an apologia for Mormonism. (Ironically, some of these very same quasi-evangelicals who plead for pious deference to Mormon theology can't seem to find it within themselves to treat Baptists with any kind of respect al all.)

Even though I missed the initial buzz about Millet's book, I still want to weigh in on a certain aspect of this controversy that has annoyed me for some six or seven years. I'm talking about way Dr. Millet and his fans (both Mormons and post-evangelicals) continually invoke my pastor's name as if he were friendly to their cause.

He's not.

This is neither mine nor John MacArthur's first attempt to set the record straight. (I'll be posting some past correspondence on the issue in the next few days.) John MacArthur has repeatedly attempted to make his position absolutely clear: He does not regard Mormonism as legitimate Christianity—not even close. But you might get the opposite impression from some of Millet's publicity, and especially from his Internet groupies' postings.

Tuesday I read an Internet forum where a Mormon missionary was attempting to convince some naive evangelical that MacArthur's "lordship doctrine" asserts the very same soteriology as Mormonism. The Mormon guy claimed the Bible is full of verses that deny the principle of sola fide and make salvation a cooperative work between God and the sinner, just the way the Mormon "gospel" teaches. That, he insisted, is also John MacArthur's view.

No, it's not.

Millet's Internet fan club also seems intent on trying to get as much public-relations mileage for their side out of the fact that MacArthur once met personally with Millet (at Millet's request) to discuss theological issues. Floating around in various Internet forums are some romanticized accounts of the Millet-MacArthur talks that would have you believe the two men see one another as fellow-warriors in a common battle against easy-believism.

Millet's book itself strives to leave that same impression. Although Millet hasn't really grasped the first principles of what MacArthur actually teaches, he quotes frequently but selectively from MacArthur, apparently attempting to give the impression that MacArthur believes the sinner's own works are instrumental in justification.

How familiar, really, is Millet with the doctrinal stance of John MacArthur? The publicity for Millet's book at Amazon.com includes a snippet from a Publishers Weekly review that says, "Millet is as at home in the writings of such evangelical heroes as C.S. Lewis, J.B. Phillips, John MacArthur and Max Lucado as he is in the teachings of LDS prophets like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Gordon Hinckley."

"At home in the writings of . . . MacArthur"? Hardly. No one who has been even casually attentive to John MacArthur's ministry could possibly imagine that Millet is representing MacArthur correctly. MacArthur has always regarded Mormonism as a dangerous, heretical cult that is opposed to true Christianity. And he said so plainly to Millet when the two of them met.

It was a conversation between theological adversaries, not a conclave of potential allies.

John MacArthur's meeting with Dr. Millet took place in August 1997. That meeting was nothing more than a discussion of Mormon-evangelical differences in a cordial environment. It was not, as some have suggested a "dialogue" about Mormon-evangelical rapprochement. MacArthur was congenial but clear. In the meeting itself he repeatedly stressed his conviction that there is a great gulf between Mormonism and true Christianity. He told Millet in plain, unvarnished words that Mormonism worships a different god, follows a different christ, and proclaims a different gospel from authentic New Testament Christianity.

MacArthur's position on this has never wavered. He believes and teaches that Mormonism is not true Christianity in any historic or biblical sense, but is a classic cult. Indeed, Mormonism is similar in many ways to the Gnostic heresies that plagued the church for centuries. Mormonism and genuine biblical, evangelical Christianity are in effect antithetical, sharing no common spiritual ground whatsoever.

Mormonism is pseudo-Christianity.

In the eight years since his meeting with Dr. Millet, MacArthur has often summarized his concerns about Mormonism by pointing out four significant, unbridgeable chasms between Mormonism and authentic biblical Christianity. Here, in writing, is MacArthur's own list of four foundational truths where Mormons and evangelicals take perfectly incompatible positions. (This list is routinely sent to people who ask about MacArthur's stance on Mormonism).

  1. The issue of authority. Christians believe the Bible is God's authoritative, inerrant, unchanging and complete self-revelation (Jude 3). Scripture is the touchstone to which all other truth-claims must be brought (Isaiah 8:20). The sole and sufficient authority by which all controversies in spiritual matters are to be determined is none other than God's Spirit speaking through Scripture.
         By contrast, Mormons consider The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants as additional authoritative revelation, thereby undermining the true authority of Scripture and violating the principle of Revelation 22:18.
  2. The doctrine of God. Christians believe there is one God who eternally exists in three co-equal Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
         Mormons reject the doctrine of the Trinity, believing that there are many worlds controlled by different gods.
  3. The supremacy of Christ. Christians believe Jesus Christ is pre-existent God who became a man in His incarnation while maintaining His full deity.
         Mormons claim Jesus was a "spirit child" of Mary and Elohim (and the brother of Lucifer) who has now been elevated to the level of deity.
  4. The means of justification. Christians believe justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
         Mormons believe a person's works in this life will determine his or her status in the life to come, and that "salvation" is actually a progression toward godhood.

Why is Dr. Millet nonetheless courting evangelical acceptance?

Robert L. Millet
Robert L. Millet
I have no way of knowing whether Dr. Millet's meticulous attempt to reconcile Mormon doctrine with certain evangelical ideas and terminology reflects an authentic interest in better understanding the biblical principle of grace—or a carefully-crafted PR campaign to gain mainstream acceptance for Mormonism. I wish I could believe it is the former. It has all the earmarks of the latter.

After all, a few other cults and "-isms" have already successfully mainstreamed themselves by simply appealing to the ever-broadening evangelical consensus. Most of the books that ever treated Seventh-Day Adventism as a cult are now deemed out of date and unsophisticated. Roman Catholicism has sought and received the evangelical imprimatur from dozens of key evangelical leaders in recent years. Even the Worldwide Church of God—a cult that was virtually a monument to one man's ability to assimilate almost any heresy into one elaborate labyrinth of spiritual mischief—sought and received widespread evangelical acceptance by tweaking their beliefs and adopting evangelical terminology, but without ever formally renouncing their founder's religion as false. After a decade-long public-relations campaign, the WWCOG has still not settled into a truly evangelical doctrinal position, but they have nevertheless found warm acceptance from the evangelical mainstream.

Hey, if it worked for them, why shouldn't the Mormons try it, too?

Phil's signature

55 comments:

Jeremy Weaver said...

As a person who has read MacArthur's books and heard his preaching via radio, I think I can say with this with some authority. Anyone who has ever read any of MacArthur's books or heard any sermon preached by him should know that he would not regard Mormonism as another Christian 'Denomination'.

Thank you for stating with clarity Dr. MacArthur's position.

Jeff Wright said...

Interesting.

I hadn't heard of this particular rumor before.

Considering the all-inclusive nature of contemporary evangelicalism, I suppose I shouldn't be suprised.

Thanks for posting. And thanks to your Pastor for continuing to stand for truth.

Joe L. said...

Thanks for the info Phil, keep it coming.

SDG,
Joe

Finrod said...

My suspicion is that Millet, who serves as an unwitting pawn for a master quite different than the Christian's Master, is attacking at this time because a weakness is being exploited by the enemy. Is this not usually the case?

The true Church - wherever it is found, in part or in whole - is battling on a lot of fronts at present; many of the fronts are internal. Open theism, the emergent church, new perspectives on Paul, continuing battles over inerrancy, the question of lordship salvation, etc. We have turned on ourselves for far too many years now and made ourselves vulnerable for exploitation.

Evangelicalism means anything, everything, and nothing. In our pursuit of political influence, we have compromised purity. If we sleep with some unholy partners, why not others? Or so Millet must assume.

Of course the enemy is going to attack. Hopefully, we'll respond with increase clarity and purity, reaffirming our commitments to the essentials of the gospel and orthodoxy. If this means the loss of political influence, so be it: we have confused influence for power, sadly. If it means the demise of evangelicalism as an institution, dig a hole: it has out-lived its usefulness anyway.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Mike,
Maybe a few councils are in order? But then again, who do we invite?

Steve said...

Eerdmans, which published Millet's book, is a member of the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association). Given that more and more supposedly evangelical publishers are leaving the gate wide open for wolves to enter in among the sheep, ECPA might need to change their name to Ecumenical Compromise Publishers Association.

mrclm said...

Phil,
Thanks for posting this. We need every voice possible speaking out against the cult of Mormonism. They are enormously dangerous for those on the fringe of Christianity as they use similar terminology but with vastly different meanings. Years ago I took a trip in a car with a Mormon guy and a person seeking Truth, and had to continually correct the Mormon guy about how his view of god is not the Christian view of God as he tried to convince the seeking man that Mormonism is the true faith.

Big Chris
Because I said so

Jerry Wragg said...

Phil - Just wanted to echo your comments about the meeting with Dr. Millet. At one point near the end of the meeting, I recall John graciously saying, "My desire is that you would repent and come to know the true gospel of Jesus Christ". Dr. Millet smiled nervously, the two men stood and shook hands...the chasm between them was obvious.

Renee said...

Phil,
Having read the writings and heard the sermons of Brother John MacArthur, there is no doubt in my mind as to Who holds his heart and mind captive. John has continuously over the years presented a clear message that was never changed and always came from the bible. although I do not know him personally, his sermons and his appearances (on tv interviews) have always given me the impression that he would confront false teachings and teachers whenever and where ever. Your post just validates what I already believed about him. I can undertsnad the frustration with the misconception being presented (I felt it also reading your comments about this situation) however I was then reminded of what the Lord has revealed to us in the scriptures and that these things will happen and people will try to mislead many (even believers) and turn them away from those who are teaching the true Words of God. As Mike said in a commnet above:

"The true Church - wherever it is found, in part or in whole - is battling on a lot of fronts at present"

All the more reason that we study the scriptures so we can discern what is truth and what is a lie. Those who's eyes and ears have been opened will hopefully discern the truth from lies like this.

Thanks for posting.
Renee

Renee said...

Just another note in response to "why he would do this"???...

Ummm, the lucrative christian book business comes to mind. After reading James White's post about an LDS book in christian bookstores just brought that to mind. Doesn't seem to be a lot of money probably in only being sold in a mormon bookstore (and "chrisitans" seem to be buying anything that's sold in the bookstores while using very little discernment)

just an observation

John said...

Great stuff Phil! The cults are on the run! Whenever I see them trying to assimilate into true Christianity, I know they are worried that their doctrines won't stand alone.

Thanks for having the guts to post this Phil, we need more of it to let them know where we stand.

GBYAY

ThirstyDavid said...

Having read everything Dr. MacArthur has ever published in hardcover (except the commentaries), and a fair amount of the paperbacks, I must say that I am shocked to learn that he is a crypto-Mormon. How could I be so blind? I am so gullible!

Jeremy said...

Could I possibly speculate that while the Mormon's are seeking to be included into the evangelical mainstream, and the main-stream media would certainly lump them in with evangelicals because, for the most part, they are politically conservative, it seems that the modern lay-person knows very little about what Mormon's really believe, but knows Mormon people. Therefore they are less likely to dismiss them as being a cult because "they are nice good folks." I have a few friends that think Mormon's are okay, merely because they talk about Jesus, they seemingly worship Jesus, and they evangelize for Jesus. So they see them as just another Christian denomination. That being said I believe we need to do a better job of teaching the truth of who Christ is and pointing out the heresy that Mormonism really is. Our people need to see that Mormonism is a cult, and be warned of it. Am I right on that, or am I missing something?

One Salient Oversight said...

Open theism today, Mormonism tomorrow... next week??

Phil Johnson said...

YnottonY: Thanks.

BAG said...

Phil said,

"Even the Worldwide Church of God—a cult that was virtually a monument to one man's ability to assimilate almost any heresy into one elaborate labyrinth of spiritual mischief—sought and received widespread evangelical acceptance by tweaking their beliefs and adopting evangelical terminology, but without ever formally renouncing their founder's religion as false. After a decade-long public-relations campaign, the WWCOG has still not settled into a truly evangelical doctrinal position, but they have nevertheless found warm acceptance from the evangelical mainstream."

Do they assert belief in the trinity? Belief in faith alone in Christ alone, by grace alone? Belief in the full inerrancy of scripture?

I realize this post is primarily about LDS, but I think the WWCOG has asserted a genuine affirming "yes" to all of the above questions, I mention. Are these not the "essentials" of the Christian faith? What else does it take to be considered, "part of the historic orthodox evangelical Christian fold?"

Theteak said...

Very interesting and somewhat disturbing. I don't see how Christianity, which is based on the risen Christ and has transformed millions of people and changed the world can be reconciled with Mormonism which is based on the lies of a village idiot and inspired 'Battlestar Galactica.'

Libbie said...

Is this a reverse version of 'poisoning the well'? Is there a fancy debate term for that? Or is it just called name-dropping?
It does interest me that a lot of these cults started off pointing out that they were the only true believers and are now bending over backwards to shyow they really are part of the mainstream, honest...
You see it with Roman Catholicism and the Mormons.. what next, are Jehovahs Witnesses going to start encouraging Christian bookshops to stock the NWT?

James Anderson said...

What I find remarkable is that these Mormon apologists don't realize just how shallow it makes their religion appear. They're more concerned with how Mormonism looks than what it actually teaches. The spin is far more important than the substance. Just think: if you happened to believe that the universe has existed eternally, that there are myriad gods, that these gods are wholly material beings, and that you have the potential to become one of these gods through moral effort, then why on earth would you want to encourage the notion that your faith is just a variation on a religion that has historically repudiated all these claims -- unless perhaps you were embarrassed by them? Why else would you want to play down the most central and distinctive claims of your faith? (Sadly, one might ask these questions of more than a few evangelical leaders as well.)

One Salient Oversight said...

I've just posted an essay that addresses some of the things Phil raises:

http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/2005/09/evangelicalism-begins-to-crack-apart.html

Joe said...

Me too! Me too! I have read and heard John McArthur's materials. I'll take his over any writing of any member of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" any day.

The whole key is, "What do you do with Jesus?" If He is Part two of the Godhead and the John 1 Creator, then you might be mainstream. If not, you are not. Not even close.

ScoobyDrew said...

Phil:
Excellent post. I had not heard of this controversy before, but I have heard that John is a 32nd degree in the freemasons. I have seen him do some funky handshakes before, and have always wondered...

SJ Camp said...

Dear Phil:

This is nothing more than a publisher and an author trying to generate publicity to market a book that is in desperate need to legitimize its theological error as Christian mainstream.

I don't know anyone who takes Millet's claim seriously that he finds affinity with John MacArthur. John has always been a champion of the faith; Millet is a cultist who needs regeneration; Eerdmans' needs repentance; and the body of Christ needs discernment.

SJ Camp
2 Cor. 4:5

JRODFOSS said...

Phil,

Excellent post.

You hit the nail on the head. Mormonism has been making great strides to try to fit in within mainstream Christianity for some time now. Most of them don't understand why they are not a Christian and more and more Christians are falling into the same trap.

A few years ago we had a Temple opening in Richland Washington. There were several groups that met together to hand out gospel tracts and information on Mormonism. We received many accusations of not loving the Mormons from the "Christians" up the street, that just happened to be providing the Temple with overflow parking, than we did from the Mormons. Most churches in the area avoided the conflict for fear of being unloving.

I hope that Christians soon wake up to the fact that Mormonism is still a cult and they need the Gospel. Gently confronting a Mormon with the Truth of the Gospel is true Love.

Jerod

Jonathan Moorhead said...

(1) I know MacArthur’s “Free Grace” opponents are going to love this one. In their mind, this will be another proof text that he teaches works salvation.

(2) It’s a Fuller thing. Another cult desiring evangelical standing is the United Pentecostals (Modalists that deny the Trinity). Mel Roebeck of Fuller Theological Seminary has an earnest expectation that both sides of the issue will exchange apologies in the future. He comments, “We’ve been calling each other names since 1916, . . . . It may take years, but we need to start arguing out our differences.” It looks like Richard Mouw is in good company.

(3) “Trinity Broadcast Network” also embraces non-Trinitarians! TBN has been a, if not the, major purveyor of this trend. During a TBN broadcast in March of 1999, Trinitarian Bishop Clarence McClendon and Bishop Noel Jones (an open proponent of Oneness Pentecostalism; and brother of Grace Jones [of James Bond fame]) engaged in a discussion on how to have unity amidst their views, and to learn from each other despite these differences. Jones said,
And then I’m going to become so Oneness in my presentation that I eliminate the revelatory distinction between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Okay) And if I’m fighting Oneness, I’ve become so extreme in my attitude that I make three Gods, you see so, so, we go from one extreme to the other extreme, instead of coming together on the premise that I need your theology and you need my theology (C. M. "absolutely") to round [sic] the body of Christ (C. M. "absolutely"). So, let’s sit down together and let’s restate the Godhead in terms that are cohesive, comprehensiveable [sic] so that all of us can grasp it. Then, after we baptize and after people receive the Holy Spirit, then let’s get up and do what Romans tells us to do to: transform people by the renewing of their minds (claps from audience).


(4) I think Renee and Campi hit the nail on the head by mentioning $$$. This is one reason why T.D. Jakes and Tommy Tenney don’t want to be exposed, and why Mormons want to be accepted.

centuri0n said...

Phil --

I have been thinking about Millet's book and the Mormon effort to main-strem their cult since the title came out. There is only one question I cannot seem to reason out, and mybe you or the readers of PyroManiac can help me out here.

Why would or should the LDS church seek to become "one" with mainstream evangelical Christianity? That is to ask, what do they gain by fellowship with those whom their earliest prophets have called "false churches"?

I simply cannot undestand why they would want to become more like what their founders rejected more than a century ago.

Libbie said...

Wider audience, Centuri0n. Partly, no doubt, for the untapped market potential, and partly to be able to recruit by stealth.
My husband faces an interesting situation at work, actually, involving a Christadelphian, another one of these 'start-as-the-only-true-church-and-then-cozy-up' groups. This man is part of the Christian Union, and is even allowed to lead studies occasionally. My husband didn't initially know what a Christadelphian was (I'm the one who evangelizes cult members in this house) and even though he has explained this to the leadership, people are so wooly there, they don't seem to care. Hubby has decided on the up-hill battle of trying to correct all the little bits of misdirection that come from this guy, but he's already managed to bag a girlfriend from the whole debacle. (The Christadelphian that is, not my husband.)

It's a whole lot easier to sheep-steal than to do that tiresome door-to-door thang...

Libbie said...

Oh, and another thing, this wouldn't be a problem if evanjellybeans had any grounding in their own theology and doctrine. When you reduce everything down to the level of 'If you believe in Jesus, you're alright with me', why on earth would you have a problem with a mormon?

p.s. I love the word verification thing.. it's like getting an bonus puzzle to solve everytime you post...

Denise said...

You're right Steve re: ECPA. The enemy is no fool. We've allowed the door wide open starting a few decades ago with the change of heart re: the RCC. Now 'we' accept Oneness Pentecostals as 'brothers'; the Trinity isn't a die-on-the-hill issue, etc. Even the Parable bookstores sell books promoting Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age, Trans-sexuality, Homosexuality, and Roman Catholicism. I'm not making this up.

Interestingly, as I recall, Joseph Smith made up Mormonism in part, because he figured all the denominations of Christianity were wrong (correct me if I'm mistaken here). I think it was the same with the JW's. Now both are trying desperately to wiggle into 'mainline Christianity' and they are welcomed with open arms. Why not? "We" already accepted them on a political basis,showing how much "we" are willing to compromise.

This is making me sick just thinking about it, let alone typing it. I think I need some chocolate now.

Denise said...

Hi Centurion,

Hey, if Rick Warren and Bruce Wilkerson can make hundreds of millions of dollars, Millet's no fool. "Christians" will buy anything....except the truth. No wonder they don't sell much of Spurgeon--if they even KNOW who Spurgeon is.

Now, I'll go read my Prayer of Jabez book while I eat chocolate off my Purpose Driven plate.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

The same holds true for the movie industry. After Hollywood witnessed evangelical dollars being poured into Gibson's Passion don't think that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is coming out for your edification.

Gordan said...

In fact, for a Mormon to seek inclusion within the bounds of historic Christianity is to deny the founding precept of Mormon history. Joseph Smith, so it goes, was illuminated as to the truth of Mormonism precisely because there was no true Christianity left on the planet. "Historic Christianity" had totally lost all the real elements of the Gospel, and so Smith had to restore it all. Now, to say, we're the same as you is an admission that Mormonism had no reason to exist in the first place.

Gordan said...

Sorry, just saw that "surphing" made my point above.

Libbie said...

Jonathan, can I go and see it anyway?

I can't believe Christians aren't storming christian bookshops and raiding the PDL stand shouting 'Edify me!, Edify me!'. It happens all the time round here...

Stan Slonkosky said...

I'm writing in response to BAG's comments.

The Worldwide Church of God does indeed accept the Trinity, they act as if this belief is optional.

On inerrancy...

From http://www.wcg.org/lit/disc/disc9a.htm
"Some WCG members believe the Bible is inerrant; others prefer the term infallible. Our Statement of Beliefs uses the less-specific word, infallible. On that most members can agree, since people who believe in inerrancy also believe in infallibility."

Somewhere along the line, the WCG got sidetracked into Barthian Neo-Orthodoxy. They frequently quote uncritically from Barth and his pupil Thomas Torrance. Do a Google search on site:www.wcg.org and you will see this for yourself.

The WCG has had women giving sermons for a number of years and essentially acting as pastors. They were supposed to announce this year whether they would ordain them, but were not able to come to an agreement among themselves about it. See http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/ministry/women7.htm .

---

http://churches.wcg.org/edmonton/Sermons/tkach2004.htm has a link to audio and video files of a "sermon" given on September 4, 2004, in Edmonton by Pastor General Joseph Tkach, Jr., of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). At about 1:25:20 into the MP3 file, he starts talking about the event that was yet to be held in the Mormon Tabernacle.

He mentioned that the president (Rev. Gregory Johnson) of Standing Together (http://www.standingtogether.org) has a close friend high up in the Mormon Church (from examining the Standing Together website I conclude that this is Dr. Robert Millet of BYU). Tkach said that he and Johnson think that this guy is secretly a Christian, though they hadn't yet asked him if he is.

Steve said...

CenturiOn: Libbie said it well when she said recruiting by stealth is easier than going door to door. Back when I was a university student, I and a couple others set up a Bible study next door to the campus, and the study was open to anyone who wanted to come. We teachers were from MacArthur's church and were committed to teaching biblical truth. Because the study was open to any student who wanted to come, guess who came? A couple of Mormon students along with their missionary friends, for about five or six weeks. They blatantly attempted to proselytize students at the Bible study itself by handing out invitations to go to social functions held at the nearby LDS church. The line they fed to their prospects was, "Hey, we're Christians, too--we worship the same God and use the same Bible."

We teachers immediately confronted the Mormons about the untruthfulness of their claim to be Christians, and forbade them to use the Bible study as a fishing pond for their proslytization efforts. In the subsequent weeks, we met privately with the Mormons to explain to them why they WEREN'T Christians, and at the study itself, we shared with the group the distinctives of biblical Christianity and the key erroneous teachings of the cults. We then told the Mormons they could continue to come (university policy required the study to be open to anyone if we advertised its presence on campus bulletin boards), but we warned that they could not proslytize, nor could they claim to hold to the same faith taught in the study. Finally, after about five weeks, the Mormons stopped coming altogether.

I don't recall where I read it, but I once came across some statistical figures that revealed that the greatest proportion of converts to Mormonism come NOT from the truly unchurched, but from so-called nominal Christians.

BAG said...

My comment is in response to Jonathan Moorehead's post above related to Fuller Seminary. He basically states that Fuller is now endorsing modalism, just because there is someone on Faculty, Mel Roebeck, at Fuller who may have modalistic leanings. Even if he does this does not implicate the whole institution as modalist, or is it necessarily reflective of President Mouw's position. Note Fuller's doctrinal statement, and let them speak for themselves:

". . . Following this evangelical pattern, the Fuller Statement of Faith includes ten central affirmations which we "hold to be essential" to our ministry: 1) the existence, perfection and triune nature of God; 2) the revelation of God in creation, history and in Jesus Christ; 3) the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures; 4) God's creation of the world and humankind, with humanity's rebellion and subsequent depravity; 5) the person and work of Jesus Christ, including his deity, virgin birth, true humanity, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, and ascension to heaven; 6) the Holy Spirit's work in regeneration and justification; 7) growth in the knowledge of God and Christian obedience; 8) the church as the creation of the Holy Spirit; 9) the worship, mission and service of the church; 10) the return of Christ to raise the dead and to judge the world."

It seems like Moorehead engages in a bit of the "guilt by association fallacy" here.

I would need to see further documentary evidence (contra their doctrinal statement, I just posted) in order to substantiate Moorehead's view, that Fuller is now endorsing modalism (albeit they do have a "lacking" view of scripture).

It's really a stretch (ridiculous) to try and link Fuller and LDS theology, BTW.

P.S. Doesn't James White have his MA (Theology) from Fuller Seminary?

Habitans in Sicco said...

Bobby:

It's rather curious how easily you dismiss the problem of a faculty member at a supposedly evangelical seminary who "has modalist leanings." Allow me to answer you by adapting something you yourself recently said at your blog:

They paid for this message to be taught in their classrooms--denying that they tacitly affirm it is like a jurisprudence tactic in the courtroom when the defense wants to attack the credibility of a prosecution witness, they blurt out some damaging personal information, knowing full well the judge will "strike that from the record", but their message has already gotten out there and into people's minds--whether or not there is a disclaimer or been "striken from the record."

Jonathan Moorhead said...

BAG, (1) nowhere did I explicitly “implicate the whole institution [Fuller] as modalist.” For the record: I, Jonathan Moorhead, do in no way accuse Fuller Seminary as being a Modalist institution. However, they do employ professors who are sympathetic to Modalists, Mormons, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, etc.

(2) I think Roebeck’s comments (my above comments) speak for themselves, and Mouw’s comments on Mormonism should be read by everyone here at this Belief.net link.

Sample of Mouw: I personally take great encouragement from words that Joseph Smith uttered on the occasion of the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April of 1830: “we know,” Joseph said, “that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.” And then he added: “And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, and we know also that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.”

Does Mouw really think there is a 1-1 correspondance between the Christian and Mormon conception of the terms he is using? Some of my friends say Mouw is too smart to make such a naïve error, but I cannot think of any other explanation.

BAG said...

Thank Jonathan for the clarification. It just seemed that you were implicating all of Fuller by naming them, you did say: "It’s a Fuller thing".

If indeed Roebeck and Mouw are endorsing modalism then I want nothing to do with them, theologically.

Habitans in Sicco quoted me on something I had posted relative to starbucks overt endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle. They give a prominent homosexual platform via their cup, and then place the disclaimer that they don't necessarily endorse the message on their cup--the quote Habitans provide, by me, is pointing out the fallacy of creating a "false distance" from the statement.

I'm not sure how this relates to the Roebeck and Mouw comments relative to modalism and LDS theology? Unless he thinks, my posting of Fuller's doctrinal statement parallels the disclaimer starbucks uses on their cups.

Cultural Savage said...

The issue of Mouw and what he (among other people) has said is allot bigger than a few statements mad in a conference setting. He is part of an "on going discussion between evangelicals and Mormonism". The point is not to find common ground and compromise Gospel, but rather to find common ground to begin talking about what is real Gospel, as opposed to LDS falsehood. Right or wrong, and weather you agree or not, these are his *stated* intentions.

Sharing the Gospel (whatever way you choose to go about it) with LDS people is hard. I live in Utah, and I tell you it is hard. I don't agree with all of Mouw's methods, but I do applaud his efforts to engage in a difficult task.

Jerry Wragg said...

Jonathan -
For the record, a friend of mine, "stuart", is the primary Disney exec. who has worked to have the Narnia series put to film. As you indicated, there are many in Hollywood who simply see these projects as cash-cows...but I can assure you that my friend's initial interest/motive throughout has been the straightforward communication of Lewis's redemptive themes. In fact, according to "Stuart", this was one of the bottom-line contractual agreements between Disney and the other major financial proprietor on the project.
Just wanted you to know of "Stuart's" integrity and passion for Christ in his work place. He's under no illusion that Disney will suddenly become a Christian company...just that some of the great Christian classics might be brought to life in full-length feature films.

Thanks.

MARK JOHNSTON said...

Phil,

I'm glad you are addressing this issue. The sad thing to realize is that a lot of Christians think that Mormons are there brothers in Christ, but they have no clue what the Mormons believe about Jesus. By the way, speaking as someone who is in ministry trying to make sure that we do not provide junk and fluff to our churches, I'm not surprised that this book made it to the book stores.

DOGpreacher said...

John MacArthur has been, and still is, one of the few orthodox christian leaders of the past 30 years who administers rebuke and reproof where needed, as scripture instructs. I was broken and let down over J.I. Packer signing the E.C.T. agreement, and others in the past years who have decided ecumenism is more important than Gods' word. I believe John does not truly like (salivate over) these confrontations, but there is not a chance that he will shrink back from anyone who is subverting the cross of Christ with false doctrine, or 'another gospel'. Now that is a man with a fire inside (a la Jeremiah), and obviously some has rubbed off on the 'Pyromaniac'. Thanks...I am...
Grateful For Grace,
The Dogpreacher

DOGpreacher said...

oh...by the way...I believe they are begging for a lawsuit (slander), and I think after a couple of times of trying to make it clear that he is not in any kind of agreement with them, he should demand a retraction...or just take them to court.

John Schroeder said...

I wonder if the Mormons are in that process of joining the mainstream? If so, at what point in the process can they be said to be truly Christians?

MTG said...

One evening the mormons showed up at our house. We invited them in and proceeded to discuss point by point and refute their assertions point by point. They were SO angry that they told us "We will not leave our book of mormon with you because you will ot read or appreciate or come to believe its' truth.'

YA THINK?????

Point being......if my husband and I as LAY PEOPLE can present an apologetioc SO strong as to make them angry...what is wrong with the rest of us?

tmssteve said...

This topic is fascinating to me. I spent 20+ years in the LDS church. Subsequently, the Lord saved me, I began attending Grace Community Church, sitting under the ministry of John MacArthur. I now serve in a small church in Massachusetts.

I have been shocked to see the changes in the approach of the Mormon leadership. Growing up, we never would have considered ourselves "Christians." Why? Because Christians had a "lesser knowledge" of the truth than we did.

Now, one has to have some knowledge of Mormonism to be able to pin them down on some differences. I had to ask a returned missionary several questions to get to this point: Was there ever a time when Jesus did not exist? He sounded thoroughly orthodox until I phrased the question in that manner.

As for salvation, Mormons completely redefine it. This is necessary because they don't have a 'hell' in the orthodox sense. 'Heaven' was obtained by virtue of our (alleged) faithfulness in the "pre-existence." Our degree of reward is what is being determined in this life. Only those--like Judas Iscariot--who have an absolute knowledge of the truth and work against it can go to hell. The Mormons call them the "Sons of Perdition."

The mainstreaming of the Church is the brainchild of Gordon B. Hinckley. It began with trying to mainstream the Book of Mormon and the effort has been escalated to other areas as well. As someone who was once 'inside,' this is a very strange change of course. Why would they want to be identified with those who have less of the truth (as they believe)? Because it will open doors that have been closed to them--like Christian publishing companies.

ed said...

I have listened to Dr. MacArthur preach for almost 20 years, and never have I went away with the impression that he thought that Mormonism was anything but a cult.

DaveC said...

I ran into a Mormon via a business relationship and he made the comment, "I just can't seem to figure out this redemption thing". I turned to my wife, took a deep breath and presented the gospel. I did my best John Mac imitation in presenting the gospel. He smiled and thanked me and told me he listens to John on Grace to you everyday. He said," we are very close in our beliefs". I politely disagreed and gave him C.J's book entitled, "The Cross Centered Life" and made asked him to have lunch with me soon. His name is Greg S...please pray for his soul and wisdom for me. This little story supports this false notion of Mormonism being close to our historic faith. How sad to see the effectiveness of Satan's tactics.

Blake Ostler said...

As a Latter-day Saint Christian (who you refer to as "Mormons") I find the tone of these responses far from Christian. It would take some time to respond to all of the various comments here -- suffice it to say that I am glad that Christ will judge me and has received me rather than leaving it to you so-called "christians".

I would be willing to take the "dialogue," but it seems quite clear to me that most of you regard dialogue with a "Mormon" demeaning and impossible (and unless there were a change in tone, why would any sane person want to engage the dialogue?).

I am quite familiar with the various soteriological doctrines and where LDS views come down. The reprensentations made here of LDS doctrine and thought are not mere caricatures, they are false witness.

That said, I would agree that the views of salvation between LDS thought and MacArthur are certainly not isomorphic. However, there are interesting similarities which you refuse to see (just as there are similarities between LDS and Arminian thought in general).

So here is my call for you to repent, seek to make all of your comments and so-called dialogue holy and loving. It is also a call to the rule of charity in discourse -- stating another's beliefs in such a way that the other would say, "yes, that is a fair statement of my beliefs." You have certainly not come close to doing that.

Tristan said...

You are sitting in your home with your brothers and sisters having Thanksgiving dinner. You all have your little children with you and you are sharing about “old times” when a knock comes from the door. Standing at the door is a man, a perfect stranger.

“Hello brother!” the man beams with outstretched arms. You wave reluctantly, uttering a suspicious “hi.”

“I am your brother Moroni!” the man claims with a smile.
“Moroni? I don’t have a—"
“I come all the way from Salt Lake City to join the family for Thanksgiving.” He picks up his bags and moves toward your home’s entrance.
“Hey, hey! Wait a minute. I don’t have a brother named Moroni!”
“Sure you do! What’s your father’s name?”
“Gerald.”
“Yup. Mine too. Your mother?”
“Betty.”
“Okay, well. My mother is Lucille. She was the first of our father’s ten wives. I don’t recall his having a ‘Betty’ as a wife, but it could easily have been. Wife number two was Ellen, and number three was—”
“What are you saying! My dad was no polygamist!”
“I can understand how you might believe this. But in his day it was very common for men to take on several wives. It would have been highly unusual for our dad NOT to have taken on several of them. I am almost certain the family tree has a 'Betty,' but she was one of the last wives our dad took on.”
“You, sir, are a liar!”
“Well that is not very kind. I am just as much a part of our family as our other brothers and sisters. We just have slightly different histories. But we all have the same father!”
“No we don’t!”
“Ah, but we do!”
“Well you can claim this trash as much as you wish, but it is a lie.”

Your brother, the “wayward son,” hears your raised voice and comes to the door. “Everything okay here?” he asks.

“Yeah." you say derisively. "This clown keeps claiming he is our brother when I know for a fact he is not!”

Your brother looks him over a moment. “Well he does look a little like us. I mean, snip off the extra foot growing out of his neck and he might pass as one of us. Don’tcha think?”
“Are you crazy? Look at this guy! He looks nothing like us!”
“Hey. Relax. All I’m saying is that the guy does look like us JUST A LITTLE, and that we ought at least not be so hostile. I think I heard him say his dad was named Gerald too. So, you know, we all at least have the same dad.”

The man nods and says “Yes. Same father, but we just have slightly different ideas about how we shared him. But that shouldn’t matter much.”
“It DOES matter!” you explode. “It makes all the difference in the world!”
“Why?” asks your brother. “As long as he had the same dad, what difference does it make how we all shared him?”
“Exactly,” says the man calmly.

Three of your sisters come to the door. Your brother turns to them and then pointing to the stranfer says “This guy is probably our brother. He’s come for Thanksgiving."

Two of your sisters welcome him immediately. The third sister rejects him out-of-hand. “He is no brother of mine.”
“I tried to tell them. But they aren’t listening!” you exclaim.
The sisters grow irate. “Well we think he IS our brother," they shout. "Same as you! Dad never would have had you be so divisive. Even if you really thought our brother was a stranger.”
"What? He isn't even our brother!"
“I’ll tell you what,” says your brother to the stranger. “I bet our little kids would love to hear your stories about their granddad and their other grandmas.”
“Not my kids!” exclaims your third sister.
“And not in my home!” you exclaim as you kick your brother and two sisters out of your home, nearly out of your mind with their stupidity.

This is what is happening within Christianity with regard to the damnable cult known as Mormonism. Christians have lost sight of what Mormonism claims. They merely accept Mormonism's claims and think they owe charity to Mormons because of them. We should show love to those Mormons who wish to meet Jesus, the real Jesus. As for he rest, we should not so much as even entertain the notion of showing their beliefs any respect at all. Christians flirt with fire when they erroneously think they are bound by some code to treat Mormonism kindly. That system is full of lies about our Father, about His Son and about us. Ultimately it wants to teach us and our children these lies, which can only condemn souls to hell. (I wonder how many of us still believe in a real hell. Mormons sure don't).

KentJ said...

Responding to Blake Ostler, let me express some sympathy for great offense you seem to feel by remarks honestly shared by Christians who cannot accept the expanded/improved revelation claims of LDS. Your remarks indicate your presumption that yours is THE correct position and should never be questioned. I recognize as an outsider to LDS that one can be so steeped in the teachings of any group--especially one so highly and intensively structured as LDS--that any questions or disagreements as to "our Church" can be nothing but attacks and falsehoods. May I challenge you to this prayer, however: "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the Name of Jesus Christ whose blood was shed at Calvary as the only propitiation for our sins, I humbly and honestly ask for your guidance as to the truth, and let me not be cast away from You but be truly sealed to You not by tradition but by Your Holy Spirit that I would know, as the Apostle Paul knew and taught, the wonders of Your salvation by Your grace through the Lord Jesus Christ."
Blake, you may have become almost unshakably convinced of your Exaltation as a part of the LDS, but I appeal to you to find the Jesus Christ whom Paul earnestly preached.

Blake Ostler said...

Nice ad hominem Tristan. I can see that acting as a Christian and being a Christian are apparently two very different things for you.

Blake Ostler said...

KentJ: You are quite presumptuous. As one who has taught world religions and Patristic and Medieval theology and philosophy (as well as the philosophy of religion), I am hardly the narrow-minded and uninformed oaf that you assume -- but then all LDS must be so absurdly narrow-minded in your view I suppose.

I do state boldly, however, that the Holy Spirit has borne witness to my soul and spoken to me very clearly about the path to follow -- after prayer. I know Christ who lives within me vibrantly.

My frustration with a blog like this is the sheer ignorance and thinly veiled hatred borne of that ignorance. Can't you see that we all have something to learn from each other?

I find the bigotry expressed on this site especially interesting in light of the attacks on MacAurther's views by other evangelicals and hard-lined Calvinists. They are no more charitable with him than y'all have been with LDS. To refuse relationship because you disagree with how I see things is not merely a hallmark of the narrow-mindedness you accuse me of harboring, but a very clear sign that the love command plays very little part in your so-called christian views. Can't we do better? I don't ask you to agree with what I say, but to refuse improved relations lacks charity.

Look at it this way. Millett knows that his views are no the same as MacArthur's in all respects -- even significant respects. Yet he was willing to treat him kindly and to learn from him. I suppose we LDS are so used to some evangelicals treating us so uncharitably in the name of christinanity that we tire of it. We LDS have every bit as much right to call ourselves Christians as you claim for yourself. No LDS person I know would treat another with such contempt and hostility. I know a true Christian when I dialogue with one -- and they seem to be in short supply around here. But if evangelicals are so contemptuously hateful toward each other as the debates over MacArthur show (or as Phil did with Owen and Mosser on this blog), I suppose we LDS can hope very little better.