Tag Archives: Al Mohler

Politics, Christianity, and Joseph Smith

Just over a year ago, I published a blog post that discussed in detail the beliefs of then Fox TV host Glenn Beck, namely his Mormon faith, as it related to Christianity.  In that article I discussed how despite Beck’s efforts to blur the lines between his faith and Christianity, even being endorsed as commencement speaker of Liberty University, the two religions are very different.  Confusion arises primarily because Mormons like to use the same words from the Bible, i.e. Jesus, salvation, justification by faith, etc., but instead of orthodox meanings Mormons twist and distort their biblical meanings.  For example, you may have heard Glenn Beck refer to Jesus and he may even mention His death on the cross, but digging a bit deeper into Mormon beliefs we see that it’s a different Jesus altogether and their belief in Him is not through faith alone, but instead faith + works (see articles below).  In that article, I took a lot of heat, mainly because unbeknownst to me several major publications picked up the following quote I made with regards to Beck and Liberty University:

“Alliances such as these are not glorifying to God, in that what association has God with false religions?  The tangential dangers when the evangelical community unites with the secular world for the sake of social or political agendas are numerous because it leads to a dilution of truths from the Word of God, opens the door to give credence to non-believers within evangelical circles and ultimately leads to the eternal destruction of lost people.” (see ChristianPost.com link for context )

Well here we are a year later with 2 presidential candidates (Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman) who are Mormons and recently an outspoken pastor, affiliated with presidential candidate Rick Perry, has received criticism for publicly stating Mormonism is not Christianity, but is instead a cult and has traditionally been thought of as such by Protestants.  Predictably, this has started a media firestorm and once again thrusts Christianity into the spotlight. 

In her USAToday pieceCathy Lynn Grossman asks, “Is it Christian vs. Christian now in the GOP primary race?”  Alluding to Mitt Romney vs. Rick Perry (questions certainly arise over Perry’s dominionist Christian beliefs, but that for another day).   What’s fascinating in Grossman’s article is that a Mormon quoted in the article distances his beliefs from that of Christianity, but then asserts “we use the same Bible.” The quote, by Mormon spokesman Michael Otterson, says the following, “It is perfectly true that Mormons do not embrace many of the orthodoxies of mainstream Christianity, including the nature of the Trinity. It is not true that Mormons do not draw their beliefs from the same Bible.”  Note here that Otterson says Mormons draw their beliefs from the same Bible as Christians, but do not embrace the nature of the Trinity. 

Friends, if you’ve got a different Trinity other than that described from the Bible as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one in which all three are equally God yet distinct in person and one in which the Son, fully God, took on human flesh becoming fully man lived sinless as the God-Man, died on the cross for sinners, and was raised again on the 3rd day then simply put you’ve got a different Trinity, a different god, and you’ve got a false religion.  Is that narrow and exclusive?  Absolutely, but remember Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No man comes unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6  There is but one way to salvation and that’s through Jesus Christ, His personhood and work on the cross being defined by Scripture alone, not any additional books/thoughts.

Despite this, the public debate seems to be centered not on the differences between orthodox Christianity and Mormonism, but instead on whether the word “cult” can be applied to Mormonism, as Perry’s pastor Jeffress declared.  In his article, Ed Stetzer attempts to address this question, but leaves us with additional questions and the definition of a cult being “understood as a religious group with strange beliefs out of the cultural mainstream (which many today increasingly consider biblical Christianity).”  But, “Is Mormonism a cult?” even the right question to be asking?  Let’s not be so quick to dismiss the differences between Christianity and Mormonism, as it is in fact antithetical to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ (as Stetzer points out) and as such blasphemes the name of the Lord God Almighty and leads many people astray, ultimately to hell.  The crux of the issue is a lack of clearly defined terms, in the minds of so many, between Christianity and false religions such as Mormonism, not whether or not it meets the requirements to be classified as a cult. 

Largely ignoring this, and muddying the waters further is Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in his CNN.com religion blog.  In his article, Mouw, does similar work as Stetzer (though admittedly the latter clearly defines theological differences) in that the question of Mormonism as a cult is his focal point.  Again, he is arguing from the wrong presupposition.  The question cannot be reduced to “Is Mormonism a cult?” and if it’s not then it’s ok.  The central question must remain, “Is Mormonism, Christianity, or is it not?”  To this Mouw begins to systematically defend Mormonism and while he admits he won’t go so far as to “reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology, I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior.”

Shockingly, Mouw follows up that statement with this one:

“I find Mormons to be more Christ-centered than they have been in the past. I recently showed a video to my evangelical Fuller Seminary students of Mormon Elder Jeffrey Holland, one of the Twelve Apostles who help lead the LDS church. The video captures Holland speaking to thousands of Mormons about Christ’s death on the cross.  Several of my students remarked that if they had not known that he was a Mormon leader they would have guessed that he was an evangelical preacher.”

With this statement we return front and center to the post I alluded to at the beginning of this one, where I mentioned the primary difference between Mormonism and Christianity resides in terminology and the necessity of defining the terms on which we are speaking.  Here, Mouw asserts Mormons are “more Christ-centered” than in the past, but he fails to understand that this Mormon Christ is not the same biblical, Son of God.

Interestingly, James White of www.aomin.org , a Fuller Theological Seminary graduate and Christian apologist in the video below systematically refutes the terms thrown out by the very same Mormon Apostle, Jeffrey Holland, that Richard Mouw showed his students (perhaps even the same video).

For a more thorough overview of Mormon beliefs, see the post by Kevin DeYoung here: Mormonism 101 and James White’s work here: Mormonism

So what’s a Christian to do and how does this relate to who a Christian votes for?  Are we to not vote a person for the presidency because of differing religious views?  First and foremost, a Christian’s duty is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and this sometimes means refuting those false gospels.  We must make clear the Gospel and if this means we are to clarify what the Bible says as opposed to what false religions and unbelievers think it says, then so be it.  But we must do so with grace and truth.  Secondly, as to politics, Al Mohler’s article on this very issue offers the following conclusions:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Evangelicals stating a desire to vote for candidates for public office who most closely identify with our own beliefs and worldview. Given the importance of the issues at stake and the central role of worldview in the framing of political positions and policies, this intuition is both understandable and right. Likewise, we would naturally expect that adherents of other worldviews would also gravitate in political support to candidates who most fully share their own worldviews.

At the same time, competence for public office is also an important Christian concern, as is made clear in Romans 13. Christians, along with the general public, are not well served by political leaders who, though identifying as Christians, are incompetent….

Furthermore, Christians in other lands and in other political contexts have had to think through these questions, sometimes under urgent and difficult circumstances. Christian citizens of Turkey, for example, must choose among Muslim candidates and parties when voting. Voters in many western states in the United States often have to choose among Mormon candidates. They vote for a Mormon or they do not vote at all.

None of this settles the question of whom Evangelicals should support in the 2012 presidential race. Beyond this, those who support any one candidate for the Republican nomination must, if truly committed to electing a president who most shares their worldview and policy concerns, end up supporting the candidate in the general election who fits that description.”

Summarizing, what’s at stake here is not simply a voter declaring, “I’m voting for a president and not a pastor,” but instead it’s the fundamental misunderstanding between Mormonism and Christianity and this has a great potential to lead people astray, while simultaneously watering down the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ through inclusivity.  Our political decisions take a back seat to the clarity and proclamation of the Gospel, but we must, as Mohler summated, be wise as Christians to vote for a competent candidate that most shares our worldview and policy concerns. 

As Christians, we cannot afford to simply bury our heads in the sand when it comes to understanding the religious beliefs of others, especially when they seek our vote for the most powerful political office in the world.  In the coming election season, we’ll be engulfed with political ads, propaganda, debates, etc.  This will likely spill over into our conversations at work or around the dinner table, but instead of the usual polarizing discussions of Republican vs. Democrat, maybe, just maybe it could be an opportunity to explain the true Gospel of Christ, for it alone “is the power of God unto salvation.” Romans 1:16

For more on Mormonism, see the posts below, especially the comment section where I interact with a commenter who has been teaching Mormonism for the last 20 years:

http://voiceoftruthblog.com/liberty-university-an-unbiblical-alliance-with-the-world

http://voiceoftruthblog.com/glenn-beck%e2%80%99s-divine-destiny

http://voiceoftruthblog.com/glenn-beck%e2%80%99s-%e2%80%9crestoring-religious-pluralism%e2%80%9d-not-honor

Bucket Drops 9/2/11

Youth Return to Apologetics –  I have seen this on display within my own youth ministry.  Teens want to hear the truths of the Bible and where the Bible stands on major issues in today’s culture.  Likewise, they are tired of not having answers or knowing where to find answers to questions that non-believers and people of other faiths bring to them.  Simply put, apologetics has its place among the youth.

Adam and Eve, Clarifying Again what is at stake – This article, by Albert Mohler, is a good follow up to the stories on evolution that I linked to last week.  In this post, Dr. Mohler shows what is at stake when the Bible’s creation account is discounted and rejected.

Burial Box reveals fresh clues about Jesus’ Death – What greater insight into the death of Jesus could anyone possibly want other than eyewitness accounts as recording in God’s Word? I don’t know what these “fresh clues” about Jesus’ death people are looking for, but the Bible gives a detailed, historical account of exactly what happened.  Maybe the scientists should read that for “fresh clues”?

DWTS and Chaz Bono – I think this is just another example of how far as a society we have fallen from Biblical morality.  Popular show, Dancing with the Stars, announced earlier this week that Chaz Bono, daughter of Sonny and Cher Bono will be one of the latest contestants on DWTS.  The controversy over this decision stems from Chaz Bono’s openly “transgendered” lifestyle choice.  Bono now considers herself a man, not merely dressing the part, but anatomically and hormonally as well.  Here is what one defender of Bono’s had to say, “Until you have walked in his shoes you have no right to judge. What would Jesus do? You are mostly all a bunch of hypocrites. Clean up your own backyard.

What would Jesus do?  He may say something to the effect of, “Go and sin no more.” John 8:11 The Word of God is clear on its stance against sexual immorality of any kind, specifically homosexuality as outlined in Romans 1:18-27 and generally in Ephesians 5:5 “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”  She needs to repent of her sin and by faith, turn to Christ for forgiveness.

The Offense of the Gospel restored a man from homosexuality – This is an excellent follow up story to the previous one, as a former homosexual tells of his thankfulness that his family and friends “offended” him with the Gospel, by calling him to repentance of his sin. As he states, “Each of them offended me. Each of them made me angry. I viewed them as bigoted, unenlightened, ignorant, prejudiced and hateful. If they truly loved me, I told them, they would accept me and affirm me in the lifestyle I was living. I ignored their calls and I viewed them with skepticism. I did my best to sever my relationships with those who were offending me. But they would not let me go. They did not coddle me, but they refused to give up on me.”  He is now an associate pastor and concludes his article with, “Thank you, dear friends, for your offense to me. At the time, the truth you shared was the aroma of death to me (2 Corinthians 2:15) but today it is the sweet fragrance of life.”

Finally, the video below shows just how far technology has come, literally faster than an earthquake.

 

 

Isaiah 40:15a “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales.”

Time Magazine, Rob Bell, and Pastoral Commentaries

Just in time for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the grave, 3 days after dying on the cross for the sins of all who believe in Him, and taking upon Himself the wrath of God, Time Magazine is set to release a cover story devoted to Rob Bell and his controversial new book Love Wins.  I’ve posted the link to that article below, along with commentary to it written by Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The Time article is in essence an apologetic for Rob Bell and it is theologically shallow and biblically inaccurate.  It represents the mainstream [theologically] liberal media view that would call into question the veracity and inerrancy of Scripture.  When the “world” begins to gravitate towards so called “Christian” books, then that should immediately send up a red flag because the Bible is crystal clear that its message of Christ crucified is a stumbling block and folly (1 Corinthians 1:23) and the natural man cannot accept nor understand the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).  Books such as The Purpose Driven Life, The DaVinci Code, and The Shack, should serve as recent reminders of so called Christian books that have been popular in the mainstream, but woefully unfaithful to the Word of God.  Such is the case with Love Wins.

While I offer up those articles below, I also commend in its entirety, yesterday’s blog post written by Pastor John MacArthur entitled: “Rob Bell: A Brother to Embrace, or a Wolf to Avoid?”  Below is that post.  Tomorrow, I’ll continue to post the blog series regarding Bell, that Dr. MacArthur mentions.

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From: http://www.gty.org/Blog/B110412

If Christopher Hitchens or Deepak Chopra penned a book that scoffed at the biblical teaching on hell, we would not be surprised. So why would anyone be shocked or confused when Rob Bell writes Love Wins? Has Bell shown any more commitment to gospel truth, or any more devotion to the principle of biblical authority than Hitchens or Chopra?

Is Rob Bell truly a Christian, or is he one of those dangerous deceivers Scripture warns us about repeatedly (Acts 20:29; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Colossians 2:8; 2 Peter 2:1; etc.)?

It’s a fair—and necessary—question. Christ’s famous warning about wolves in sheep’s clothing is given to us as an imperative: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). Our Lord clearly expects His true disciples to be able to spot spiritual imposters and wolves in sheep’s clothing—especially those who are purveyors of deadly false doctrines.

Rob Bell certainly fits that category. He relentlessly casts doubt on the authority and reliability of Scripture. He denies the Bible’s perspicuity, disavows its hard truths, and ridicules some of the most important features of the gospel.

Granted, Bell (who was raised in the evangelical movement and is an alumnus of Wheaton College) still insists on calling himself “evangelical.” He reiterated that claim recently in a March 14 interview with Lisa Miller, where he stated, “Do I think that I’m evangelical and orthodox to the bone? Yes.”

A careful examination of Bell’s teaching suggests, however, that his profession of faith is not credible. His claim that he is “evangelical and orthodox to the bone” is, to put it bluntly, a lie. Bell’s teaching gives no evidence of any real evangelical conviction. If “each tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:44), we cannot blithely embrace Rob Bell as a “brother” just because he says he wants to be accepted as an evangelical.

If, as Jesus said, His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27), then we ought to look with the utmost suspicion on anyone who doubts and denies as much of Jesus’ teaching as Rob Bell does, and yet claims to be a follower of Christ.

Scripture is crystal-clear about this: “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Timothy 6:3-4).

Historic evangelicalism has always affirmed the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of Scripture, while declaring (as Jesus and the apostles did) that the only way of salvation for fallen humanity is through the atoning work of Christ, and the only instrument of justification is faith in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the gospel.

Rob Bell believes none of those things. His skepticism about so many key biblical truths, his penchant for sowing doubt in his hearers, and his obvious contempt for the principles of divine justice as taught in Scripture all give evidence that he is precisely the kind of unbelieving false teacher Scripture warns us about.

Bell is an inveterate syncretist who loves to blend “progressive” and politically correct dogmas with eastern mysticism, humanistic jargon, and Christian terminology. His teaching is full of barren ideas borrowed directly from old liberalism, sometimes rephrased in postmodern jargon but still reeking of stale Socinianism.

What Bell is peddling is nothing like New Testament Christianity. It is a man-centered religion totally devoid of both clarity and biblical authority.

Given those facts, you might think any true evangelical would reject Bell and his teaching outright. But evidently many in the American evangelical movement think they are obliged simply to accept at face value Bell’s claim of orthodoxy. No less than Mart DeHaan, voice of Radio Bible Class, decried Bell’s critics, portraying them as the divisive ones for pointing out the unsoundness of Bell’s teaching. DeHaan wrote,

I’m left wondering… are we allowing love (and truth) to win now… by using threats of group pressure and blackballing of brothers like Rob, and those who openly or secretly stand with him? Is that really the best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy? [emphasis added]

The biblical answer to DeHaan’s question is clear and fairly simple: The best way to maintain a strong and healthy orthodoxy is to “[hold] fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching . . . to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers . . . who must be silenced” (Titus 1:9-11).

We have a duty not only to expose, refute, and silence Rob Bell’s errors, but also to urge people under his influence to run as fast and as far as they can from him, lest they be gathered into the eternal hell he denies. It won’t do to sit by idly while someone who denies the danger of hell mass-produces sons of hell (cf. Matthew 23:15).

In a series of posts this week, we will demonstrate from Rob Bell’s own published works that he has long been hostile to virtually every vital gospel truth; we will consider some of the questions he has raised about what the Bible has to say about hell; and we will compare and contrast what Bell is saying about hell with what Jesus said about it.

Buckle in and get ready to be challenged. These are admittedly some of the hardest truths in the New Testament, but there’s no reason anyone holding authentic evangelical convictions should find the subject confusing or controversial.

John MacArthur
Pastor-Teacher

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See also Time Magazine article “Is Hell Dead?”: http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,2065080,00.html 

Al Mohler’s Response to the Time Magazine article: http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/04/15/a-massive-shift-coming-in-what-it-means-to-be-a-christian-time-magazine-considers-rob-bell/