The Mormon Relativist

If you notice, this post is tagged as Moldova Monday as well as Thoughtful Thursday.  How can that be?  Has he lost his conception of time?  No, I haven’t.  This actually happened to me in Moldova, on Monday, but I decided to post it today :)

Monday, I was in the park, enjoying some free WiFi, when a lady came and shared the bench with me.  She asked me a question in very quickly spoken Romanian, and I told her I speak English.  She switched into her decent (but still broken) English, and asked me if I could help her log on.  I did, and then her curiosity got the best of her…

Lady: I thought you were from here, but you’re not.  Where are you from?

Me: California.

L: Wow!  What are you doing here?

Me: I moved here a few months ago to help work on a church here.

L: Really!  I went to university and studied Philosophy of Religion.  What kind of church is it…

The conversation progressed, and she eventually asked me what I thought of the Mormon church.  She said she asks a lot of Americans this question, because she’s been to all sorts of churches – Orthodox, Catholic, Pentecostal, Jehovah’s Witness, and Baptist – but she likes the Mormon church a lot.  The people are nice and she is happy there.  Other people have told her bad things about Mormons, like polygamy, but that’s not even true.

She’s right.  The problem with the LDS isn’t that Joseph Smith went to jail for polygamy, or that their scriptures mention that some people have a curse of the “skin of blackness.” The problem with Mormanism, as far as I can tell is twofold:

  1. The Nature of God.  They believe Jesus is the Son of God, but not God Himself.  She said, “Look how many more times Jesus is called the Son of God!  Even God says, ‘This is my Son,’ not, ‘This is me!'”
  2. The Effectiveness of the Atonement.  They believe that Jesus atoned (paid for) our sins, but that in order to receive it, people must Repent.  That sounds pretty Christian, until you get to the Mormon understanding of Repentance.  The team at credenda.org have a great comment on this:

    The Mormon “gospel” is a hopeless hamster wheel: All have sinned and so the atonement was given. However, to get the atonement we must not sin. Therefore no person, past, present or future, has, or will ever have, the atonement.

The first problem is that if Jesus isn’t God, then His atonement won’t cover everyone. The sacrifice has to be *perfect* in order pay for everyone who comes to faith.

The second problem is stated very clearly by credenda: Mormons require that we must maintain perfection in order to be saved.  This is impossible.

Herein lies the important distinctions:

  1. Christians believe Jesus is God *and* the Son of God (the Trinity is a Great Mystery), being God, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is able to pay for all mankind.  If he were just a perfect man, couldn’t he only replace 1 man’s life?
  2. Salvation is by faith in Christ alone – not by our perfect works.  If salvation relies on our morality, then all of us are doomed.  This is not a gospel of hope, but of despair.

I tried to articulate my two points to her, but it was a bit difficult with the communication barrier.  I haven’t learned many theological terms yet, but I’m sure I will.

As time passed in our conversation, it became clear that she wasn’t even 100% sold on Mormonism.  She said:

“I don’t talk bad about any church.  As long as you can go somewhere and you’re free to worship how you want and you’re with people you like, and you’re happy.  That’s what’s important.”

We were having some communication issues, so I didn’t try to argue with her.  If my Romanian had been better, I would have.  She wasn’t Mormon.  She was a relativist.  She has some questions to answer for herself:

  • Is there an absolute truth that religion can show us?
  • If so, what is that truth?  Surely mutually-exclusive statements can’t lead us all to the same truth! (Mormons: Jesus is only the son of God.  Christians: Jesus is God)
We parted ways, as it had been 45 minutes, and I needed to get home.  I gave her the information for our church, and she said she would come visit.  Please pray that she would come, and that the Truth of God’s word would penetrate her heart – deeper than a desire for her own happiness.

Those are my questions to us today:

Have we taken the time to examine our faith and understand the truth in the Bible?  Do we care more about what our church teaches us or how it makes us feel?  Is our present happiness worth more than eternal glory?

What do you think?

Posted in Moldova Monday, Thoughtful Thursday