by Sharon Lindbloom
21 May 2018
Mormon politician Mitt Romney sent out a tweet a week ago that the media deemed to be highly newsworthy. On May 13th Mr. Romney disparaged well-known evangelical minister Robert Jeffress, tweeting:
“Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew,’ and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.’ He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.”
Dr. Jeffress responded to Mr. Romney’s accusation:
“Historical Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith alone in Jesus Christ. The fact that I, along with millions of evangelical Christians around the world, espouse that belief is neither bigoted or newsworthy.”
In fact, Christianity stands on several exclusive truth claims – as do most religions, Mormonism included. Mormon scripture states that the LDS Church is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased” (D&C 1:30) and that “there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10). Is this not equivalent to saying, as Joseph Smith claimed he was told in a vision (regarding all pre-LDS churches) that “they [are] all wrong;…that all their creeds [are] an abomination in [God’s] sight; that those professors [are] all corrupt”? (see Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith—History 1:19)
Consider a few statements made by LDS leaders over the years.
“Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and kicked on to the earth.” (2ndPresident Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:176)
“What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing …Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest of fools; they know neither God nor the things of God.” (3rdPresident John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225)
“…all other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives Baptism or the Lord’s supper from their hands highly offend God, for he looks upon them as the most corrupt of all people …The only persons among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who have authority from Jesus Christ to administer any gospel ordinance are those called and authorized among the Latter-day Saints.” (Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, 255)
“Presumptuous and blasphemous are they who purport to baptize, bless, marry, or perform other sacraments in the name of the Lord while in fact lacking the specific [LDS] authorization.” (12thPresident Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, 55)
“And virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ whom they vainly suppose to be a spirit essence who is incorporeal uncreated, immaterial and three-in-one with the Father and Holy Spirit.” (Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 269)
“To say that Satan sits in the place of God in Christianity after the time of the Apostles is not to say that all that is in it is satanic…Still, ‘the power of God unto salvation’ (Rom. 1:16) is absent from all but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which the Lord himself has proclaimed to be ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth’ (D&C 1:30). Satan’s goal of hindering many of God’s children from returning to their Father’s glory is thus realized.” (BYU Professor Kent P. Jackson, “Early Signs of the Apostasy,” Ensign, December 1984, 9)
These statements are just a small sampling of how Mormon leaders have portrayed non-Mormon religions over that faith’s history. Given the exclusiveness of Mormonism’s truth claims, it’s odd that Mitt Romney would call out Robert Jeffress as a “bigot” for expressing logical conclusions based on biblical truth (i.e., that salvation is received only (exclusively) through faith alone in Christ). Looking at the quotes Mr. Romney chose to include in his tweet, Dr. Jeffress’ commented that, “You can’t be saved by being a Jew.” This is merely stating that those who deny Jesus as God, or that Jesus is the Messiah, or that Jesus is the Savior – that is, those who do not have saving faith in Jesus Christ – will not, in the end, be reconciled to God. This is based on an exclusive truth claim, but it is not bigotry (i.e., treating the members of a racial or ethnic group with hatred and intolerance).
Likewise, when Dr. Jeffress noted that the heretical doctrines of Mormonism do not have the biblical God as their source, he was but standing firm for another of Christianity’s truth claims: That the Bible is the very word of God, true and trustworthy; and any assertions of spiritual truth that contradict those revealed in the Bible are false (heretical).
While Mitt Romney may be offended by Christianity’s exclusive truth claims, Mormonism’s exclusive claims don’t really bother me in that way. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias explains,
“The truth is that every major religion in the world claims exclusivity, and every major religion in the world has a point of exclusion. But before we get upset with such claims, let us remember that it is the very nature of truth that presents us with this reality. Truth by definition is exclusive. Everything cannot be true. If everything is true, then nothing is false. And if nothing is false then it would also be true to say everything is false. We cannot have it both ways.”
Because of truth’s exclusive nature, it doesn’t upset me that Mormonism makes spiritual assertions that seek to invalidate my personal faith. Mormonism and Christianity, at great odds with each other doctrinally, can’t both be true. Mormonism discredits and excludes Christianity, while Christianity discredits and excludes Mormonism. Truth by definition is exclusive.
I am troubled, however, that Mormon truth claims don’t agree with biblical truth; for, according to the Bible, this demonstrates that Mormonism is false, and those who seek salvation through it will be eternally lost. Mormonism is a false religious system that cannot provide the eternal life it promises to its followers. Dr. Jeffress (or anyone else) saying so is not an act of intolerance and hatred, but rather one of loving concern. It’s a call for Mormons to critically examine their faith in light of the Bible, and carefully evaluate the differences they find. It’s the first step in the God-given instruction for Christians found in 2 Timothy 2:24-26:
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
For whatever reason, Mitt Romney is overlooking Mormonism’s history of exclusion. In these later latter-days, Mormons often choose to downplay the exclusive truth claims of their Church. For example, 15th LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley remarked,
“Let me say that we appreciate the truth in all churches and the good which they do. We say to the people, in effect, you bring with you all the good that you have, and then let us see if we can add to it.” (“Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, 8/1998)
Mr. Hinckley’s inclusive mention of “truth in all churches” is a long way from Mormonism’s historic exclusive insistence that all other religions are wrong in their abominable creeds and corrupt professors, and, in fact, were all “hatched in hell.” In his effort to sound benevolent Mr. Hinckley side-stepped a foundational truth claim of Mormonism, choosing to be patronizing instead of transparent.
Personally, I’m thankful for Mormons who are courageous enough to own their religion’s exclusive truth claims, uncomfortable though they may be. Their refreshing honesty about what Mormonism actually teaches opens the door for Mormons and Christians to engage in respectful and meaningful dialog together – a God-honoring Second Timothy conversation marked by patience, gentleness, and truth.