Monday, December 31, 2007

Are Mormons Christians, Joel Osteen thinks so

When I hear people either equivocate or simply get it wrong when asked about other religious beliefs it can be troublesome. When this comes from a professing Christian pastor it is down right disturbing. Recently on Fox News Sunday (12/23/07) in an interview with Joel Osteen he was asked whether he thought Mormons were true Christians. Here is his answer and you can read the entire transcript here:

WALLACE: And what about Mitt Romney? And I've got to ask you the question, because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a Mormon a true Christian?

OSTEEN: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that's what I believe, so, you know, I'm not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are.
And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don't think he would — anything would stop me from voting for him if that's what I felt like.


WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?

OSTEEN: I probably don't get hung up in them because I haven't really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don't know.

I certainly can't say that I agree with everything that I've heard about it, but from what I've heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his savior, to me that's a common bond.


Now for the man on the street this is probably the answer I would suspect but for a professing Christian pastor to say such a thing is greatly troubling. Mr. Osteen as a Christian pastor with a voice in the public arena needs to be more careful with his words and if he does not know about Mormon beliefs he needs to not answer the question rather than simply make statements as he did. Does he not know how Mormons define who God and Jesus are? To make statements as he did may be damaging to those that hear him speak and then see no problem belonging to a Mormon church since he said they were OK. As teachers of God’s word one cannot take the responsibility lightly as is seen in James 3:1.

Why is it so hard to say that based on Mormon Doctrine they are not Christians? Not too many years ago Mormons would have not been so evasive and were not afraid to air the differences as they wanted people to join their “true church.” In our local Sunday paper (Orange County Register) was an interview with a Mormon where the interviewer did not ask the correct questions. The interviewer simply asked the basics and since Mormon’s use many of the same words as biblical Christianity the Mormon was made out to be no different than any other professing believer. Never did the author ask the Mormon to define his words such as who is God and who is Jesus and how do you define the trinity. In essence the Mormon Church got a free advertisement in the morning paper with web links and everything.

I am not sure if there is a concentrated effort to deceive by the Mormons or simply ignorance on the part of many Mormons, including their elders (an unbiblical term as they use it). I recently talked with a couple of nice Mormon guys a few month’s ago and in talking to them they were very elusive in there terms and it took close to two hours to get them to see that we did not use our words the same way and that we did not believe the same things. I again do not know if this is purposeful, probably was, or simply ignorance. The problem is that unless terms are defined conversation cannot start. It is not enough to simply say “Do you believe in Jesus as your savior” but one needs to define who Jesus is and the Jesus of Christianity is not the Jesus of Mormon doctrine.

If we are to share the Gospel with Mormons we need to make sure we know they need the Gospel, and they do. So in sharing the Gospel make sure you define your words carefully so that the message given is the one that we are to give.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Not sure about posting a link on your page so I'll give several quotes. These are from a pro-Mormon site and may help those who are ignorant of Mormon beliefs.

"What Do Mormons Believe About The Nature of God?
Mormons believe God is our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ is His Son, and the Holy Ghost is a spirit sent by God to teach truth, inspire, and comfort. Each of these is a separate, individual being. God is perfect, benevolent, all-knowing, and all-powerful. God has a divine, immortal body of flesh and bone. We are all the children of God, so He desires for us to become like Him and gain all that He has (Romans 8:17)."

"What Do Mormons Believe About Jesus Christ?
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God."

"What Do Mormons Believe About Salvation?

Mormons believe salvation is achieved through faith in Jesus Christ. This begins, but does not end, with a personal conviction that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior. Mormons believe that there are two deaths to be saved from. Physical death will come to everyone because of the Fall of Adam. The Atonement of Jesus Christ overcame this death and all will rise from the dead with an immortal, resurrected, physical body. The death that is spiritual is a separation from the glory and dwelling place of God. Salvation from this death is achieved through faith in Jesus and the performance of the ordinances of Salvation."

"What Do Mormons Believe About Other Christian Churches?

Mormons desire the fellowship and association of other Christian churches. Mormons believe in freedom of religion and allow all to worship as they please. All Christian churches are based on faith in Jesus Christ but Mormons believe that God grants authority to administer the gospel. This is the priesthood. Without that authority, the ordinances of salvation cannot be performed. Although other Christian churches have faith in Jesus and live His teachings, they have not received baptism by the proper authority to be able to receive salvation. Mormons believe the priesthood authority of God is found only in the Mormon Church."

Adonna

Tony said...

Thanks Adonna

What is sad is that even with the clear umbilical teachings straight from their own mouths many in the professing church will probably not see a problem. So few truly understand what Christianity is that when faced with a counterfeit they see no difference.

Again thanks for the information.

Grace and Peace,

Tony

Anonymous said...

I have been a member of the (Mormon) Church for five years. Let me ask you, when Jesus returns will your church be the church every one flocks to? How is YOUR church better then the other 1500? Doesn't the bible say the body of Christ must be one?
Mormons believe in Joseph Smith because GOD and Jesus Christ appeared to him. He testified to that. Prophets have been doing that through out the bible and Joseph Smith is no different. Because we are following Gods plan, I think that makes US more Christian than you will ever be.

Tony said...

Dear Anonymous:

When Jesus returns He returns for His own it is not a time for anyone to flock to any church. Hebrews 9:27-28 says that Christ will return for those that are eagerly awaiting Him. The question is what Jesus is one waiting for is it the created being, the literal Son of God or as the bible attests to that He is the eternal second person of the triune God. If we differ in this then so be it but that reveals a difference. It is not enough to simply say one believes in Jesus because one has to define who Jesus is by scripture.

When speaking of the church there are basically two ways the church is seen in scripture. There is the universal church comprised of those that are Christians by virtue of having a saving faith in Jesus Christ, as the bible defines Jesus Christ. The other way that the church is shown, and this is how it is shown most often, is as a local congregation of believers. So to answer your question I am not claiming my church to be better but I would say as the Christian church is defined I would not consider the Mormon Church to be a Christian church. The body is one in Christ not in some universal organization. The bible does not speak of a universal organization as the church but as is in revelation the letters are to local churches that are unified in Christ not in an ecclesiastical body.

As far as Joseph Smith goes, simply because a person claims to be a prophet does not make him one. 2 Cor 11:4 and Gal 1:8 speak to false teachers and relate the false teachings to what the apostles had taught. So if a doctrine of Joseph Smith contradicts, which many do, the scriptures then he would be a false prophet. It really does not matter if one claims to have spoken with God, Jesus or even has special tablets if the teachings contradict the words of God that we already have in scripture we are called to question those teachings that are put forth as well as the teacher. Yes there were prophets in the Old Testament but on the appearance of Jesus Christ we do not see any others as the final word is Jesus. There is no need for other prophets as the word of God, The Holy Scriptures, The Bible, is all we need. That aside, since the teachings he claims as from God contradict scripture itself then that would make him a false prophet.

The bottom line and the point of my posting was that Mormon’s and orthodox Christianity do not believe the same things. I am not saying I am better a person than anyone because it is not my righteousness that counts in the end but the righteousness of Christ as credited to me based on faith in Christ, the Christ of the Bible, that does.

While you do not think I will ever be a Christian, my interpretation of what your last comment implied, I will be praying that you will see the light of scripture as it was intended and not as it was manipulated by Joseph Smith.