Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year or two, you’ve heard something about “Mormons”. And, if you live in America, it’s likely you’ve been hearing a lot! Pick your passion, and you’ve probably heard the word “Mormon” connected somehow…whether it’s Broadway musicals, Politics, teen vampire lit., HBO polygamy dramas, or any number of reality TV shows and their famous contestants….In fact, a while back someone started calling this “The Mormon Moment“. Mainly because Mormons are a “hot topic” these days. Lots of people are exploring questions such as Who / What / Where are the Mormons? and, probably most popular of late: Can a Mormon win the White House? We’ve seen feature articles in Newsweek, and The New York Times. Commentaries and editorials have popped up in every outlet from Washington to Tampa. Of course there have also been many responses regarding what it’s like “being Mormon in a Mormon Moment“! (Just Google “Mormon Moment” and you get a plethora of interesting tidbits).
The most recent “Mormon Moment” brouhaha has risen over certain comments made last Friday by a Texas pastor named Robert Jeffress. I don’t know the guy. Never heard of him before. But, he made quite a spectacle of himself at a political rally where he chose to disparage presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s faith, accusing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of being ”a cult“, [therefore inherently evil] and certainly ‘not Christian’.
OK. Allow me a moment to press pause here and just say that I remain incredulous that there are still grown men (and women) out there who profess to be educated human beings, and often Christian no less, who continue to stoop to name-calling and bigotry to get attention and feel better about themselves. Seriously Not Cool.
But, I digress. This latest outburst simply makes me smile. Mormons tend to smile a lot, but you probably already knew that. We also tend not to get too ruffled about something like this. It reminds me of the oft quoted statement by LDS prophet Joseph Smith, [which I'll slightly paraphrase]:
“. . .no unhallowed hand [or tongue, or news article] can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, [stupid people may say stupid things] but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
Or in other words, “God’s got our back”. Let’s face it. History has proven that any and all nasty things directed at The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints ends up having a bright side and eventually furthers the cause in some way. As such, I have been sitting here enjoying the bright aftermath of Jeffress’ ill-advised rampage. Since then, many unlikely people have been standing up for their Mormon brothers and sisters in a big way. I’ve appreciated evangelical theologian Richard J. Mouw’s view given on CNN :
“These folks [Mormons] talk admiringly of the evangelical Billy Graham and the Catholic Mother Teresa, and they enjoy reading the evangelical C.S. Lewis and Father Henri Nouwen, a Catholic. That is not the kind of thing you run into in anti-Christian cults.”
Or, how about David Weigel’s logical perspective of how Jeffress has actually done Mitt (and potentially Mormons) a favor?
“Romney was always going to have to deal with this. Mormonism will be up for debate in a way that no mainline Christian’s candidate ever will be. That’s the price of trying to become a presidential first. That’s why Jeffress has made Romney’s job easier. Mormonism has emerged as an issue because a bigot brought it up.”
At the end of the day, here’s my two cents. I am a Mormon. It’s a nickname I’m happy to embrace because of a book of scripture I happen to love. However, being a “Mormon” actually means that I am one of millions of folks living all over the world on every continent who are baptised members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As you may have noticed, our church is not named the “Mormon Church”. It never has been. It has always been The Church of Jesus Christ because we believe in Jesus, and we believe it is His church. Simple. As a Mormon, I believe in Jesus as the literal Son of God, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament and the Ressurected Lord of the New Testament. As a Mormon, I believe Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior and Redeemer of the world. He is my personal Savior and I have a personal relationship with Him. As a Mormon, Jesus is everything to me. In fact, without Jesus there simply would be no Mormons. Quite Literally. The focus of my life is to love and serve and act like He did and raise my children to do the same. Of course I fail quite miserably a lot of the time. Unfortunately, I’m just an average human being. But in trying to be like Jesus, and study his teachings and follow his commandments, and making sacred covenants with him, it has made my life better in every way. This is what my church is all about. Interestingly enough, to anyone else in the non-Christian world, I qualify as a certifiable “Christian”. Hands down. It’s just other “Christians” that seem to take issue. Ironic, huh? I agree I don’t believe in the same “Christianity” as Mr. Jeffress. But personally, I really don’t think Jesus does, either. Do you?
For the record, here is the official position of Mormons regarding Jesus. (this is also the same talk that Mr. Mouw mentioned he shared with his evangelical theology students, to rave review)
In conclusion, as you sift through all the Mormon Moment media blitz over the next few months/years I suggest you look around and find your own friendly neighborhood Mormon. You know at least one, I bet. (If not, you can adopt me for awhile). I encourage you to go ahead and have a friendly discussion. What do you know about Mormons? What have you heard recently? What is your impression of the “Mormon Moment”? – MoSop
- The Mormon Moment (slate.com)
- Why evangelicals must stand up to anti-Mormon bigotry (Washington Post)
- Rick Perry Refuses To Disavow Controversial Pastor (huffingtonpost.com)
- -Romney and Mormonism Center Stage Again (answersforthefaith.com)
- Perry Backer: Romney in a ‘Cult,’ Not a Christian (foxnews.com)