We’ve all heard about the comments made by Robert Jeffress - labeling Mormonism as a cult and as not being in line with “Historical Christianity”. By saying this, I feel that Jeffress is acknowledging one part of history and ignoring several others.
I have heard three basic arguments for why Mormons are not Christians. Two of them are based in ignorance and one has some merit, but creates the historical problem that I feel Jeffress has.
#1 Mormons don’t believe in Jesus at all. Any Mormon will tell you that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior. This argument is clearly false.
#2 Mormons worship a different Jesus than other Christians. This doesn’t really make sense and it makes me think of the praying-to-baby-Jesus argument from Talladega Nights.
Christ is Christ.
#3 Mormons are not Christians because they don’t believe in the Trinity. This point has validity. Mormons reject the 3-in-1 concept for a “Godhead” in which Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three separate beings that function as one God. Since belief in the Trinity is considered one of the defining characteristics of Christianity, the argument can be made that Mormons are not Christian. (I’m assuming that’s what Jeffress means by “Historical Christianity”.)
Here’s my problem with that: This definition of Christians as Trinity worshipers was solidified during the First Council of Nicea (AD 325). The issue came up because of debates about Arianism (named for the Egyptian presbyter Arius and completely unrelated to Aryans, who are racist bastards) One of the core beliefs of Arianism was that if Jesus was begotten by the Father, then the Father existed before Jesus and they cannot be the same being. They also believed that the Father created the Holy Ghost through Jesus and that it was subservient to both of them.
So what’s the problem? Arianism was heresy and the council crushed it. No big deal, right? Well, my question is why did they crush it? There is a lot of history to show that the church in Rome was less concerned about spirituality than they were about consolidating their power through politics. This was certainly the case with Arianism. Arians were all over Egypt and, at the time, Egypt was where the world went to be educated. Arians were enjoying a huge amount of influence because of this. Influence that threatened the supremacy of the church in Rome. This wasn’t the first time a council had done this. The Gnostics had been condemned just 40 years earlier.
Seems to me that “Historical Christianty” is somewhat based on a series of power grabs. This is not to say that everything about Christianity is terrible and wrong, I just don’t think it’s completely authoritative.
My point: People should be able to believe whatever the crap they want. 1700 year old Bishops are not the boss of me.
My other point: Labeling confessed Christians as non-Christian for political gain seems a bit un-Christian.