While conducting a Question and Answer session at The Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, N.C. last week I was handed this question:
“What do you think about a Mormon becoming a president? What is the basic difference between the Christian and Mormon religions?”
A second, similar question was more sarcastic:
“How does a Bible-believing Christian choose between a Mormon and an anti-American Muslim who professes to be a Christian?” (While President Obama claims to be Christian many followers of Christ are perplexed by his anti-Christian positions and pro-Muslim comments)
My answer, as closely as I can recall, was as follows:
The primary difference between Christianity and Mormonism concerns the deity of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that Jesus is Immanuel, which means, “God with us.” John’s gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and lived among us.”
MORMONISM DOES NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THE DEITY OF JESUS
The Mormon faith contends that Jesus is not equal with God. In their teaching He was birthed from God’s wife (as was Satan). Jesus became God-like as an example of how we all can become God-like. That’s a huge difference! Second Corinthians 11:3-4 warns against those who preach another Jesus. The Jesus of the Mormons is not the Jesus of the New Testament.
That’s why our forefathers in the Christians faith categorized Mormonism as a cult. There are several definitive characteristics of a cult. Cults regard a book other than the Bible as divinely inspired, follow a person other than (or in addition to) Jesus Christ and believe salvation is secured through good works rather than by grace.
The book of Mormon is considered a divinely inspired book superior to the Bible even though it contains passages that have been proven to be plagiarized and erroneous. Joseph Smith is revered as a prophet even though he was a polygamist and many feel he was dishonest . Salvation is promised to Mormons who perform enough works to earn God’s favor. Admittedly, many Mormons are very good moral people and upstanding citizens but that doesn’t make them Christians. (See 1 John 4:1-3.)
Governor Mitt Romney is apparently a good family man and a good moral person but that doesn’t mean he will be an advocate for the Christian faith. Nevada Senator Harry Reid and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah are both Mormons but represent diverse political views.
WE ARE NOT ELECTING A PASTOR-IN-CHIEF BUT A COMMANDER- IN-CHIEF
On the other hand, President Barak Obama professes to be a Christian but has stirred up strong opposition from Evangelical believers for his pro-abortion, pro gay marriage and anti-religious liberty stances. In a recent television interview, Franklin Graham hesitated to affirm the President’s assertion of being a Christian by quoting Jesus who said, “By their fruit you shall know them.” While God is the ultimate judge, President Obama has not taken Biblical stands on issues vital to most Christians.
So this fall, Bible-believing Christians will face a choice between voting for a man who belongs to a cult and a man who claims to be a Christian but promotes causes that are diametrically opposed to what conservative Christians stand for.
If you were adding a room onto your house and had a choice between hiring a Christian contractor with stellar credentials and an equally gifted non-Christian which would you choose? Most of us would probably choose the Christian contractor.
But what if you had a choice between a non-Christian contractor who had 30 years of experience and excellent recommendations and an eighteen year old Christian carpenter who wanted to do your additional room as his first project which would you choose? Most of us would probably choose the man who was the most capable. We recognize that being a dedicated Christian does not necessarily equip a person to perform a task that demands considerable knowledge and expertise.
When voting for a President we need to understand we’re not electing a preacher but an administrator. (One military chaplain at The Billy Graham Training Center commented that we’re not electing a pastor-in-chief but a commander-in-chief.) That’s an important distinction! Jimmy Carter, a Sunday School teacher and a very outspoken Christian is generally considered one of the poorest presidents in recent memory.
SIGNERS OF THE MANHATTAN DECLARATION CONSIDER THREE MORAL ISSUES AS TAKING PRECEDENT OVER ALL OTHERS
All things being equal let’s vote for the Christian. But since all things aren’t equal we would be wise to consider experience, philosophy of government and the track record of the candidates when casting our vote. Even more important to Christians should be the politician’s stand on vital moral issues.
Hospital emergency rooms find it necessary to prioritize cases. A heart attack takes precedent over a broken arm for example. Christians need to prioritize political issues. The sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious freedom are the three issues the 600,000+ signers of the Manhattan Declaration* (of which Chuck Colson was co-founder) consider of utmost importance. Those are the game-changers on which those of us who have signed that pledge will not budge.
I, personally, will not support candidates who are pro-abortion and pro gay marriage regardless of their stance on economic matters and regardless of their stated religious affiliation.
When voting for a President, if we must choose between a non-Christian who pledges fidelity to the right to life, Biblical marriage and the freedom of the church and someone who calls himself a Christian but who undermines those critical values, it’s certainly not an ideal choice…but it’s not really a difficult one for me to make.
* The Manhattan Declaration was released on November 20, 2009 by a group of prominent Christian clergy, ministry leaders, and scholars at a press conference in Washington, DC. The 4,700-word declaration speaks in defense of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty. It issues a clarion call to Christians to adhere firmly to their convictions in these three areas.