A defense of Mormonism

Last week, I expressed my dismay at Mitt Romney’s categorical statement that jihad—the Allah-commanded holy war to spread the power of Islam over all humanity—is an entirely different entity from Islam. I said that Romney’s view departed even further from reality than the standard conservative nonsense that jihad is a perverted form of Islam, when, of course, jihad is the essence and the highest expression of Islam. M. Mason, an evangelical Christian, posted a thought-provoking comment in that entry arguing that Romney’s whitewashing of Islam, his refusal to recognize anything bad about Islam, is symptomatic of the Mormon teaching that man is innocent and destined to progress almost automatically to a god state.

In this entry, Kimberly P., a Mormon, replies to M. Mason.

Kimberly P. writes:

I have spent the better part of two days thinking about how best to address this issue and consulting with friends of other faiths as well. The discussion was spirited and covered a wide range of issues. Since you have posted extensive entries from Mr. Mason making claims about my religion. I would like the opportunity to answer his claims from an authentic Mormon perspective.

First it should be said that Mitt fails, not on religious terms, but on political terms. And we saw how the religious issue in the 2008 campaign was a canard anyway. (Obama is a Muslim, but doesn’t have to account for it, as the media is in league with the libs in covering it up.)

What Romney did—this unequivocal statement about Islam—sprang entirely from political expediency, and not at all from his faith. Why did he do it? Only he can answer that and the vastly more important question, for you, Mr. Auster and everyone who loves “traditional” America is this:

What is it about our beliefs and positions that makes us the barely organized minority party, if we can say we are a party at all, with entertainers like Rush Limbaugh as our (supposedly) most articulate “leaders?”

I won’t make the assertion that you are merely bigoted against Mormons, as I have seen your previous defense of Romney and even to some extent on this string with Mr. Mason. It is interesting though that George W. Bush (not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination) said that Islam means peace, and no one blamed his faith for this liberal whitewash.

So now I will answer the assertions made about my faith being “a form of liberalism.”

There is nothing automatic about salvation in the Mormon faith; we believe we are saved by the Grace of God through the atonement by Jesus Christ and our works. Had Mr. Mason taken the time to look at the actual Articles of Faith (the core beliefs of the Mormon Church) rather than going to anti-Mormon website, he would have understood this from the outset. I include the link to these documents here. Although we do not subscribe to the concept of Original Sin (meaning that every human being is STILL paying for Adam’s transgression), we definitely recognize a need for a savior in Jesus Christ, to save us from our own sins. We see the fall of Adam as necessary in order for procreation to happen, if Adam and Eve had continued to live in complete innocence there would not be a human race. We also believe that Adam and Eve thoroughly repented of their transgression and received the full forgiveness of God.

As for the doctrine of Eternal Progression, again Mr. Mason takes one quote and takes it out of context at that. The doctrine of Eternal Progression is best explained, again, by going to the original doctrine. For this purpose I have chosen the Discourses of Brigham Young here. If you are going to make claims and attack my religion, then you owe everyone reading your claims the courtesy of being intellectually informed about the subject you’re discussing and going to the source rather than an interpretation by an anti-Mormon website.

Mormons place a high value on conservative principles: personal responsibility, self-reliance, economic frugality, family, freedom and faith. Most of us (Harry Reid being a notable exception) find that the conservative movement offers a more welcoming environment for these values than the liberal party.

Thankfully, we have freedom of choice, what we Mormons refer to as “Free Agency,” the gift to choose between good and evil, right and wrong—a gift given to us by the grace of God and a savior who will not make choices for us but will enforce the consequences. “There must needs be opposition in all things.” We humans eventually answer for our life choices according to the law of justice, thankfully if we have done all we can do to live a good and righteous life mercy will bridge the gap between all we could do and meeting the law. Stephen Robinson, Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, wrote a story (The Parable of the Bicycle) that explains the Mormon concept of Christ’s Atonement for humanity here.

All monotheistic religions share some foundational tenets with each other; I find though that Mr. Mason’s link of Mormonism with Islam to be inflammatory on the surface, and ridiculous when one looks seriously at the core beliefs of both religions. Politicians such as Mitt Romney and Harry Reid are not sources of doctrine of the Mormon Church, they are human beings muddling through this life the best they can, just as I am.

To the extent that any President of the United States adheres to the core doctrines of the Mormon Church, the better it will be for the whole of the country.

LA replies:

Thank you for this. For the present, just a couple of points.

You write:

“What Romney did—this unequivocal statement about Islam—sprang entirely from political expediency, and not at all from his faith.”

I don’t think that this is correct. Statements motivated by political expediency do not have the crystal clear, categorical quality of Romney’s statement (not that his statement was true, only that it was categorical); they are muddy and reek of compromise. What Romney was expressing was a principle in which, at least as seems evident to me, he sincerely believes.

Also, as I’ve already pointed out more than once, how could mere expedience force him to take an Islam-apologetic position more far-reaching than anything said by any other conservative? Motives of political expedience propel political men to the middle ground, not to the extremes. And Romney’s statement was not only extreme, but stunningly out of character for a man whose modus operandi is to seek to please everyone. Romney could not but be aware that his total defense of Islam would be offensive to his own conservative base.

On another, passing, point, not earthshaking but worth mentioning, you write:

“Since you have posted extensive entries from M. Mason making claims about my religion … So now I will answer the assertions made about my faith being ‘a form of liberalism’…. If you are going to make claims and attack my religion…”

As a matter of style and presentation, I don’t think it’s helpful repeatedly to describe the religion to which one belongs as “my religion, my faith.” That personalizes it too much. It makes it seem that Mormonism is your personal possession and expression, rather than something larger than yourself which you follow. Also, readers aren’t interested in the fact that Mormonism is your religion, or that Mr. Mason has attacked your religion. The discussion is not about you or Mr. Mason. It’s about the nature of Mormonism.

I’m not singling you out for this. It’s a very common way of talking today. But it has the effect of trivializing religion by treating it as a mere personal expression.

- end of initial entry -

Terry Morris writes:

I should like to point out as well that Kimberly’s description of the Christian Research Institute as an “anti-Mormon site” is completely inaccurate, as well as unfair. It is no more an anti-Mormon site than it is an anti-Catholic site, or an anti-Oneness-Pentecostalism site, etc. The main impetus of CRI is correct biblical-Christian doctrine, or, the propagation of Christian apologetics. Period.

Brandon F. writes:

Re “my religion,” “my faith,” thank you for pointing this out. I find it most irritating and implicitly relativistic. I remember listening to a Glenn Beck show where he repeatedly said this with an over-emphasis on my. In my faith this and my faith that.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 09, 2009 11:42 AM | Send

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