Friday, September 26, 2008

Texas Hate Preacher Robert Jeffress Repeatedly Denounces Mormonism As A "Cult" In Debate With The ACLJ's Jay Sekulow


Reverend Dr. Robert Jeffress (pictured at left), the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, repeatedly denounced Mormonism as a "cult" at a meeting of journalists at the Religion Newswriters Association (RNA) annual meeting. This is not the first time he has done so; in October 2007, he told parishioners in his church not to vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. Full story published September 26th, 2008 by the Salt Lake Tribune.

In addition, Jeffress said that evangelicals who believe the country needs a Christian in the White House but promoted Mitt Romney's candidacy during the Republican primaries were hypocrites. Romney, a Mormon, is not a Christian, but a member of a "cult", according to Jeffress.

"I believe we should always support a Christian over a non-Christian," Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, told the audience. "The value of electing a Christian goes beyond public policies. . . . Christians are uniquely favored by God, [while] Mormons, Hindus and Muslims worship a false god. The eternal consequences outweigh political ones. It is worse to legitimize a faith that would lead people to a separation from God".

Jeffress made his remarks during a luncheon debate with Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a law firm and educational organization that focuses on religious-liberty issues. The DeMoss Group, a Christian public-relations firm in Duluth, Ga., sponsored the event.

Sekulow, a Jew who also disagrees with Mormon theology but supported Romney's candidacy, argued he would rather have a president who promoted a conservative political agenda than one who shared his doctrinal positions. "Jimmy Carter ran as a born-again Christian," Sekulow reasoned, "but his presidency did nothing for the issues I care about".

Mark DeMoss, president of the DeMoss Group, opened the session by describing his decision to lead Romney's outreach to conservative Christians. DeMoss said he had come to admire Romney, despite their theological differences, but was amazed at the vehement opposition to the Mormon's candidacy among Evangelicals. "When making the choice of candidate for president, I don't care how different the person's theology is from mine, just like I don't care about my doctor's theology or the guy's who built my house or the architect's," DeMoss said in an interview this week. "I'm challenging people who would oppose a Mormon because he's a Mormon, but I'm also challenging people who would instantly embrace a Southern Baptist because he's a Southern Baptist. Both conclusions are bad".

Many reporters said they had never heard the word "cult," which Jeffress repeatedly called the LDS Church, used so "freely and recklessly," said Eckstrom, editor of Religion News Service in Washington, D.C. But Jeffress used the same word to describe "Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and virtually everyone else".

It is difficult to dismiss Reverend Jeffress' viewpoint as marginal. First Baptist of Dallas is a major church in Texas and one of the linchpin churches in the Southern Baptist denomination. The congregation numbers at least 10,000 people. Nevertheless, most of the Southern Baptists I've encountered have been respectful of Mormonism.

Officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decline to comment on Jeffress' statements until they see a transcript of the remarks. However, most Christians consider Mormonism to be Christian, based upon the two universal criteria of acceptance of the divinity of Jesus Christ and recoginition of the authority of the Bible, although it is not considered part of mainstream Christianity by many. But most Christians do NOT consider Mormonism to be a cult.

The LDS Church does declare itself to be the only true church upon the earth, a declaration that does irritate many. However, the LDS Church also declares that all denominations and even other faiths possess varying degrees of the truth, which is an equally true statement. At this point in time, the LDS Church is gearing up for their 178th Semiannual General Conference, which will be held at Temple Square in Salt Lake City from October 4-5.

Rev. Jeffress is involved in another controversy. The president of Criswell College resigned in early September over a dispute with Jeffress. Allegedly, Jeffress wants to close the school and sell the assets to construct another large church. However, Jeffress denies this, saying there are no active plans to do it at this time. However, Jeffress is concerned about the college's declining enrollment and availability of similar curricula at other universities.

Commentary: What makes Reverend Jeffress' anti-Mormon bigotry even more frustrating is that he also has a reputation for being a staunch, vocal, and articulate defender of those traditional American values which catapulted America to unprecedented power and prosperity. Jeffress has boldly confronted the homosexual lobby and challenged the promotion and protection of the homosexual lifestyle; in 1998, when he was still pastor of the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, TX, Jeffress attracted widespread attention when he checked all copies of the two children’s books about gay families out of the Wichita Falls library and refused to return them because of their “homosexual message.” The pastor said he wanted to keep the books out of the hands of his congregation and other residents of the city. Jeffress destroyed the books and reimbursed the library $54 for their cost. The library’s administrator replaced the books but moved them from the young children’s book section, for ages 3 through sixth grade, to the youth section for ages 9 through 13.

However, Jeffress found that compromise insufficient, and he and his followers petitioned the Wichita Falls City Council to ban the books from the library. Under continued pressure from Jeffress and his followers, the council passed an ordinance in February of 1999 that allowed a group of library patrons numbering at least 300 to petition for books they found objectionable to be removed from the children’s area and placed in the adult section. More than 500 residents signed such a petition immediately after the ordinance’s passage, and the books were transferred to the adult section in July of 1999. Although the ACLU ultimately sued and got the library ordinance overturned, Rev. Jeffress showed what Christians can do when they unite for a common goal in the name of Jesus Christ.

And that's what makes Rev. Jeffress' denominationalism even more frustrating - he's shown what he can do when he focuses on social issues rather than denominational differences. It's time for Rev. Jeffress to return to the Great Commission, which is to build up Christ rather than tear down Christians.

12 comments:

Bot said...

The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Evangelical pastors of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion This article helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity's theology relating to baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

• Baptism: .

Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified. http://www.imj.org.il/eng/exhibitions/2000/christianity/ancientchurch/structure/index.html
The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing them.

• The Trinity: .

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration?

The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one."

Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .

Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”

The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

• Theosis

Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, "The Son of God became man, that we might become God." . The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him. (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988) The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS agrees with Athanasius and Thomas regarding theosis.

• The Deity of Jesus Christ

Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), 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 (28 percent of Episcopalians) agreed that Jesus was “without sin”, 70 percent of Mormons believe Jesus was sinless. http://www.adherents.com/misc/BarnaPoll.html

• The Cross and Christ’s Atonement: .

The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming. Furthermore, members of the church believe the major part of Christ’s atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ took upon him the sins of all mankind.

• Definition of “Christian”: .

But Mormons don’t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. They believe Christ’s atonement applies to all mankind. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer.

It’s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. . Early Christians had certain rituals which defined a Christian http://sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/207/2070037.htm , which members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue today. . Please refer to: http://NewTestamentTempleRitual.blogspot.com If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

• The Parallel with the “Rise of Christianity”

Rodney Stark in his book “The Rise of Christianity” found parallels with the rise of Mormonism:
A similar growth rate (40 percent for Christianity, and 43 percent for Mormonism) for both nascent religious movements. Conversions proceeded along social networking lines, primarily. While Christianity retained Jews’ belief in the Old Testament, Mormonism retains Creedal Christians’ belief in both the New and Old Testaments. The Romans martyred the Christian leaders, the mobs in Missouri and Illinois martyred the Mormon leaders. In both cases, they expected the fledgling movements to fail without their leaders.

• The Need for a Restoration of the Christian Church:

The founder of the Baptist Church in America, Roger Williams, just prior to leaving the church he established, said this:

"There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking.” (Picturesque America, p. 502.)

Martin Luther had similar thoughts: "Nor can a Christian believer be forced beyond sacred Scriptures,...unless some new and proved revelation should be added; for we are forbidden by divine law to believe except what is proved either through the divine Scriptures or through Manifest revelation."

He also wrote: "I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. The spiritual powers have been not only corrupted by sin, but absolutely destroyed; so that there is now nothing in them but a depraved reason and a will that is the enemy and opponent of God. I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among
those who should have preserved it."

The Lutheran, Baptist and Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) churches recognize an apostasy from early Christianity. The Lutheran and Baptist churches have attempted reform, but Mormonism (and Roger Williams, and perhaps Martin Luther) require inspired restoration, so as to re-establish an unbroken line of authority and apostolic succession.

* * *
• Christ-Like Lives:

The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):


1. Attend Religious Services weekly
2. Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life – extremely important
3. Believes in life after death
4. Does NOT believe in psychics or fortune-tellers
5. Has taught religious education classes
6. Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline
7. Sabbath Observance
8. Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith
9. Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily
10. Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen (very supportive)
11. Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality

LDS Evangelical
1. 71% 55%
2. 52 28
3. 76 62
4. 100 95
5. 42 28
6. 68 22
7. 67 40
8. 72 56
9. 50 19
10. 65 26
11. 84 35



So what do you think the motivation is for the Evangelical preachers to denigrate the Mormon Church? You would think Evangelical preachers would be emulating Mormon practices (a creed to believe, a place to belong, a calling to live out, and a hope to hold onto) which were noted by Methodist Rev. Kenda Creasy Dean of the Princeton Theological Seminary, as causing Mormon teenagers to “top the charts” in Christian characteristics. (see http://MormonTeenagers.blogspot.com) It seems obvious pastors shouldn't be denigrating a church based on First Century Christianity, with high efficacy. The only plausible reason to denigrate Mormons is for Evangelical pastors to protect their flock (and their livelihood).

Deseret Dawg said...

Bot - thanks for the input; it should prove quite useful to others who read this post.

In response to your own question, there are undoubtedly some Evangelical and other pastors who denigrate Mormonism merely because they fear its impact on their collection plates. However, a number of Evangelical pastors have also been influenced by apostate ex-Mormons such as James Spencer and Ed Decker who opened anti-Mormon ministries after their respective excommunications in order to get back at the Church. They will have their reward for misleading and blinding many who are otherwise the humble followers of Christ.

I take care to distinguish between those who merely disagree with Mormonism versus those who actually denigrate Mormonism by calling it a "cult" or "un-Christian". The former have honorable intent; the latter, dishonorable.

steel68 said...

Good stuff bot!How come you do not comment here more?

The impact of Neo-Platonism cannot be overestimated.Christ is Osiris!Christ is Mithras!Christ is Dionysos!Christ is the course of the Zodiac!Christ's narrative is the narrative of all Sun-Gods!Thus,Christ belongs to the mysteries of initiation!Enter the labyrinth if you dare!

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1131/533729063_4fdaee4eb3.jpg?v=0

Bot said...

I am on a temple mission in Latin America, now. I find the Early Christianity Temple references:
http://NewTestamentTempleRitual.blogspot.com fascinating. Joseph Smith could not possibly have seen the Nag Hamadi, Dead Sea Scrolls, nor Cyril of Jersusalem information, because it was not discovered nor translated into English until well more than 100 years after the temple ordinances were revealed to Joseph Smith.

Anonymous said...

Mormonism teaches a different Jesus, a different "God" and a different gospel than Christianity teaches. They are NOT the same.

Anonymous said...

Mormonism teaches that God the Father was once a mortal man who lived a mortal life (on another planet), died and was resurrected and then he BECAME a God. This is NOT Christianity!

John said...

LDS "prophet" Lorenzo Snow said: "As Man is, God once was; As God is, Man may become".

If you believe God the Father was once a mortal man who lived an earthly life like us and was capable of committing sin, then you are NOT a Christian! Nothing "hateful" about telling the truth.

John said...

Bot said: "Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and prohibiting non-Christians from witnessing them."

More lies and misinformation! Baptism was not a secret ritual. There were 2 ordinances in the local Christian church. 1) Baptism, which was public. 2) The Lord's Supper, which was also public. They did nothing in "secret" as is practiced by the Mormons in the Temple Ceremonies.

Bot said...

John,

Please check out this Israel Museum website. The information accompanying the baptismal font says the father baptized the (nude) child and dressed him/her in a white robe, anointed him/her with oil. Go argue with the Israel Museum,not bot.

Now, with regard to secret ordinances in Early Christianity, please refer to:

http://NewTestamentTempleRitual.blogspot.com

And tell me Joseph Smith made up all these ordinances which were uncovered in the 1950 to 1970 period.

What actually happened is the Roman Church (in which you profess their Creeds) burned all the books from Early Christians which referenced esoteric ordinances and theosis. Uh oh, some were not burned and now we know the truth.

Bot said...

John,

Here is the Israel Museum link:

http://www.imj.org.il/eng/exhibitions/2000/christianity/ancientchurch/structure/index.html

Bot said...

Anonymous,

If the Gods and Jesus Christ are different, it is because the Catholic (and subsequently the Protestant) churches decided to ditch Revelation and Christ's authority, in favor of an Emperor (Constantine) and a council of Bishops, in which a lot of arm-twisting occured.

Because a church believes in the New Testament and not in the Creeds doesn't make it "un-Christian".

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Utah and was a mormon. I was taught that christians were heathens. Those words were passed down from the mormon prophet Joseph Smith to the next prophet and so on and so forth. There is written documentation that the LDS church referred to christians as heathens. Now they are upset about not being called christians?
They are in fact not christians. They believe God had sex with Mary and that is how Jesus was born. Christians believe in virgin birth. They are not Bible believing people, they worship Joseph Smith not Jesus. Their doctrine places emphasis on what Joseph Smith did for man such as being a martyr. He killed 2 people that is a murderer not a martyr folks!! And Joseph Smith boasted he has done more for mankind than Jesus did. And mormons are constantly taught to "praise the man" and they do. Joseph Smith is more talked about and preached about and worshipped by mormons than Jesus. Do the math. Not christians and they shouldn't be called such. If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it's a duck.