What in the world precipitated this description of C.T.? Brooks is a good researcher and not often given to overstatement. He, like myself and a number of apologists around the country, subscribes to AR-Talk which is a resource that we use to keep one another posted on current issues. Brooks was responding to the recent article Mitt's Mormonism and the " ˜Evangelical Vote' in Christianity Today which had been brought to the attention of AR-Talk by our friend, Keith Walker of Evidence Ministries. The article is written by Robert Millet, professor of ancient Christian Scriptures at Mormon owned Brigham Young University, and Gerald McDermott, professor of religion at Roanoke College. Millet is a Mormon in good standing. In the article Millett and McDermott state:
Besides, Mormon beliefs are not as un-evangelical as most evangelicals think.
As I mentioned in Is Holding Rick Warren Accountable Uncivilized and Rude? MCOI and C.T. have enjoyed a good working relationship over the years and I know that many there are very fine believers on staff. Realizing that some have concerns about C.T.'s orthodoxy, C.T. recently began stating the assurance that Christianity Today Magazine is A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction. This assurance raises the bar of importance on Millet and McDermott's article and claims a bit further. What were they trying to accomplish and were they successful?
Is the purpose of C.T.'s article to point out that non-Christians have held the office of president in the past and voting for a candidate who is Mormon is no different? Perhaps and if that is the case it is a worthwhile discussion. As I pointed out in Romney - A god for president? this is an issue that many are already discussing within evangelical circles and secular media. However, if that was the purpose it doesn't appear to have been well served by Millett and McDermott who seemed to split the article about half and half between the question of voting for a Mormon and seemingly trying to assure Evangelicals that any differences between Mormons and Evangelicals are in perhaps important but secondary issues of the faith. This is where this article became a problem.
Millet and McDermott write:
Evangelicals accuse Mormons of adding new revelation (the Book of Mormon) to the Bible.
Is it simply accusation or have Mormons added the Book of Mormon as well as the Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants to the canon of Scripture? Or is it C.T.s view that it wasn't added but should have always been there? We are not told.
Millet and McDermott further state:
They think Mormons teach that humans are saved by good works rather than by Jesus Christ, and that humans are of the same species as Jesus and can someday attain his status.
The devil is in the details on these issues for Mormons have become very adept at redefining and distracting. A Mormon today would say that they are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But what do they mean by saved? In Mormon parlance "saved" is the opportunity to be resurrected and has little if anything to do with eternal life. Receiving eternal life is something that is earned and equates to becoming god in the same sense that Jesus Christ and the Father are gods. It should also be noted that Robert Millet, one of the authors of this article,how to play fast and loose with the truth when asked these questions. Why would we expect him to act any differently than he trains his students?
Millet and McDermott go on to say:
In addition, evangelicals say, Mormons reject key Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and creatio ex nihilo (God creating the world out of nothing).
Again, these things can be demonstrated from their own official teachings. This has little to do with what "evangelical say" but with what Mormonism teaches. In an effort to strengthen their case they appeal to biblical illiteracy and lack of orthodoxy amongst certain denominations:
For Latter-Day Saints, Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists agreed that Jesus was "without sin," Mormons were among the "most likely" to say that Jesus was sinless.
There are two points to be made here. First, it is true that Mormons would affirm that Jesus is the Son of God and is also God the Son but that means very little once their definitions are understood. In their teaching we too are Sons and Daughters of God who also can be God the Son and God the Daughter. In other words, it is a different Jesus and a different gospel which they proclaim than Evangelicals worship. Second, citing a survey which demonstrates that 66% of "American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists "are heretical in their view of the sinless nature of Jesus doesn't demonstrate that Mormons are orthodox in their fundamental doctrines.
Whether or not Mitt Romney will get the nod to run for president is yet to be determined. If he does I suspect his church affiliation will play less of a role then than it does now. On the other hand regardless of what Romney does C.T. will likely still be publishing and will probably want to be regarded as "A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction." I would submit, as a friend, that the interests of the Body of Christ and Christianity Today Magazine would have been better served to have had an article demonstrating the differences between official Mormon teachings and sound biblical teaching. With that lacking C.T. comes across as misrepresenting Mormonism. Perhaps they will do a follow up article on this right away.