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Mormonism, Catholicism, and the Romney Candidacy Print E-mail
By Francis J. Beckwith   
Friday, 10 June 2011

In a piece recently published in the Catholic and Evangelical portals of the Patheos website, Warren Cole Smith explains why he cannot support Mitt Romney’s candidacy for President of the United States.  “A Vote for Romney is a Vote for the LDS Church” reminded me of the sort of anti-Catholic screeds that were widely published during the presidential candidacy of Senator John F. Kennedy.  

Catholics conversant with the 1960 election will recognize in Mr. Smith’s piece the sort of histrionics that were employed against them and their faith in the not-too-distant past. Consider this excerpt from Smith's essay: 

The Christian worldview teaches that there is a short tether binding beliefs to the values and behaviors that flow from them. If the beliefs are false, then the behavior will eventually – but inevitably – be warped. Mormonism is particularly troubling on this point because Mormons believe in the idea of “continuing revelation.” They may believe one thing today, and something else tomorrow. This is why Mormons have changed their views, for example, on marriage and race. Polygamy was once a key distinctive of the religion. Now, of course, it is not. Mormons once forbade blacks from leadership roles. Now they do not. What else will change?

Where to begin? First, the claim that “if beliefs are false, then the behavior will eventually – but inevitably – be warped,” depends on the plausibility of the belief in question and not on the overall plausibility of the worldview from which it heralds. For example, suppose that Mr. X, a Mormon, believes that marriage is a one-flesh communion between one man and one woman, and thus he aligns himself with the Catholic tradition, though he believes this understanding of marriage because he heard it from a Mormon prophet and he believes that the prophet speaks infallibly on such matters. 

Although, as a Catholic, I do not believe that Mormon prophets are real prophets, this does not mean I believe that Mormon prophets may not utter true beliefs. After all, Mormonism developed out of nineteenth century American Protestantism, which is itself the result of the sixteenth century schism within Catholic Christianity. For that reason, it should not be a surprise to discover that the LDS [Latter Day Saints] get a lot of things right about the nature of the moral life and civil society, even though one may have good reason to believe that Mormonism as a theological tradition is mistaken. 


         Mitt Romney: Should his Mormonism trouble Catholics?

So, there is nothing incoherent in saying that one may have good reasons to reject a particular theological tradition, such as Mormonism, Islam, or Christian Science, while at the same time claiming that the tradition embraces beliefs that are nevertheless true. Mr. Smith, however, seems to believe that a belief is false if it is tethered to a worldview that is false. But that cannot be right, since it is overwhelmingly the case that people who hold a religious faith we think is mistaken are able to quite easily hold true beliefs that are derived from that faith but can be defended as true independently of it. 

Second, Mr. Smith seems to be claiming that because LDS theology has changed over time based on the directives of an unaccountable magisterium, therefore, Mormon candidates cannot be trusted to hold those beliefs that they presently hold in common with traditional Christians. This is reminiscent of the old anti-Catholic canard that one ought not to vote for Senator Kennedy because he will take orders from the pope. So, just as a Catholic candidate must unthinkingly listen to the Supreme Pontiff (as it was often depicted during the 1960 election), an LDS candidate must obey his capricious and authoritarian leadership as well. 

But in both cases the critic holds a one-dimensional and superficial understanding of doctrinal development. Take, for example, the two LDS cases cited by Mr. Smith – polygamy and the priesthood.  In both cases the LDS Church has moved in the direction of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and the Reformers, all of which have rejected polygamy as well as racial tests for clerical office. So, far from being a sign that portends to a theologically arbitrary LDS future, these shifts are positive and reasonable developments in Mormon doctrine that traditional Christians should applaud and support. That is, one may view these shifts as evidence that Mormonism is moving closer to the moral and doctrinal commitments of the Christian communities from which it sprang in the nineteenth century. 

Third, it seems that the changes within Mormonism are far more modest than the sort one finds within Mr. Smith’s own Evangelical Protestantism. For example, on the matters of women’s ordination, abortion, contraception, divorce, eternal punishment, Chalcedonian formulation of the Incarnation, infant baptism, ecclesiology, the nature of God, and even the inerrancy of Scripture, Evangelicals have held a wide variety of views over the past fifty years, all of which are considered by many Evangelical scholars as well within the bounds of orthodoxy. 

But unlike Mormonism, or even Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, there is no magisterium within Evangelicalism that is constrained by the doctrinal pronouncements of its predecessors, such as in church councils or in official catechisms. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church has far more latitude for changing his church’s doctrine than do Pope Benedict XVI and Mormon President Thomas S. Monson in tinkering with their own. 

The lesson to be learned here is that one should examine another’s theological tradition with at least as much charity and rigor as one expects others to assess one’s own. (I know that this last sentence will probably come back to haunt me).

 
Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books including Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraftand The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast Growing Movement, finalist for the 2003 Gold Medallion Award in theology and doctrine.
 

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written by Howard Kainz, June 10, 2011
One problem is that Joseph Smith, along with Evangelicals of his day, subscribed to the notion that the Catholic Church is the "whore of Babylon." See e.g. The Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 14, 22.
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written by Jacob R, June 10, 2011
Thanks for making vague mildly insulting claims and then leaving without supporting them Grump.

Go write your own article! (Prof. Beckwith is too busy but I've got time so I'll come critique it for you.)

Turn that frown upside down! God
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written by Aeneas, June 10, 2011
Once again Grump reminds us why he calls himself "Grump"...Man!
"It would seem then that such a candidate, lacking any allegiance whatsoever to the supernatural or an organized religion, would be ideally suited to faithfully execute the laws and respect the Constitution and not have to be answerable to the same old tired questions raised in this article." -Grump
You know, somehow I really doubt that. I see no reason why they would be better fitted to "execute the laws and respect the Constitution." In fact, more than likely the case would they would have an ideological (rather than religious) slant when dealing with law and the constitution, you really think THAT would be better?! Your argument reminds me of the people who say that it was neither God nor evolution that made man, but aliens.
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written by Aeneas, June 10, 2011
Mr.Beckwith makes some good points here. However I will still not be voting for Romney, not because of his being Mormon, but because I think he is a phony conservative.
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written by Martial Artist, June 10, 2011
@Aeneas,

I very much doubt that Mr. Romney is "a phony conservative" as you assert. I think it much more accurate to state quite clearly, based on a number of his political choices as Governor of Massachusetts, specifically including what is sometimes called "Romneycare," that he is not a conservative at all, neither is he a (small-L) libertarian. He is a typical Republican career politician, which latter I would suggest is the problem. His primary interest in seeking election is to have a prestigious job for which he will recieve a generous salary and not have to actually do any productive labor. I do not mean to suggest that he is totally without morality and dignity, simply to suggest that he is willing to subordinate many of his principles to ensure he can remain, as they say at Microsoft, "B and I." If we do not at some time as a nation achieve the election of a President with both strong principles and the accompanying strength of character to stick to them, then all of the discussion of who would be the best candidate will be fruitless, because there will be no recognizable United States for the elected individual to lead.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer
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written by Grump, June 10, 2011
Aeneas & Co. You missed my point but in the spirit of reaching out, I hereby quote H.L. Mencken:

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

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written by Seth R., June 11, 2011
Howard Kainz,

You mention that the Book of Mormon targets the Catholic Church as the "whore of Babylon" in 1 Nephi 14:22. This was indeed once a popular Mormon view, even endorsed by LDS apostles such as James E. Talmage and Bruce R. McConkie in their own influential writings. But the view has fallen out of common use in the modern LDS Church and is no longer widely held. And modern Mormon exegesis of the Book of Mormon text has repudiated this reading of that passage.

In Nephi's vision, he sees the formation of a "great and abominable church" when the "record of the Jews" goes forth first to the Jews, then the Gentiles (1 Nephi 13:25-26). He sees that it was founded in opposition to the "Church of God" - which basically means the two existed simultaneously (1 Nephi 13:5). The passage talks of this "great and abominable church" killing the apostles, obscuring the scriptures, persecuting the saints, etc.

I would like to emphasize that this "abominable" church was in existence at the time of the apostles and the "true church" they founded.

The Roman Catholic Church was not. The earliest we have the term "Catholic" even being used is early 2nd century, and the Roman Catholic Church doesn't start its history until around 380 under Emperor Constantine. The apostles were all dead at this time and LDS doctrine holds the "true church" was lost at this point.

The two did not co-exist. Therefore Nephi cannot be referring specifically to the Roman Catholic Church.

A better reading of Nephi's prophecy is to note that the "great and abominable church" (also termed the "Whore of Babylon") simply refers to corruption within the churches tasked with preserving the Gospel of Christ - wherever and whenever we may encounter them. It could even refer to corruption within the Mormon religion itself as far as the Nephi passage is concerned. There is no reason to read this passage as specifically targeting Catholics for any treatment that does not equally apply to any Christian faith - including Mormonism.

Mormon scholarship has admittedly had "bad blood" with Catholicism. Mostly due to the heavy dependence of early Mormon scholarship on late 19th and early 20th century Protestant scholarship for its view of the 1st and 2nd centuries of Christianity. With such scholarly sources, it is unsurprising that a distinctively anti-papal tone crept in, and unsurprising that the Nephi passage would be interpreted this way.

But I do not consider this a sound reading of the text, and I rarely - if ever - hear anti-Catholic sentiment in modern LDS worship services or study materials.
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written by Arthur Martin, June 11, 2011
Hello... anybody home!

Have we not learned anything from the Catholic voters putting Obama in office?

Let's not do that again. Please!
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written by Grump, June 11, 2011
Seth says, "The apostles were all dead at this time and LDS doctrine holds the "true church" was lost at this point."

If the 'true church' disappeared around 380, then Jesus must have been wrong when he said to Peter, "Upon this rock I shall built my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Is it not the Catholic view that it is the 'true church' since it can trace its origins back to Peter?

Perhaps this is an age-old question that prompts many answers depending on one's persuasion, but as one who continues to keep an open mind despite my agnosticism, I would ask Mr. Beckwith or any of you to comment on how Christianity veered off track and how Luther and the Mormons several hundred years after Christ were able to put it back on.
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written by Judy , June 11, 2011
We lived in Paradise CA for a few years, which is heavily populated by Mormons, and I can tell you they are very Anti Catholic. When we first moved in, a neighbor came calling, thinking we perhaps were Mormon, as we had seven children, but then we never saw them again, once they found we were Catholic, and when they asked one of our older daughters to visit, they were trying to convert her, telling here lies about the Church.

Also, remember, they are not Christians. They do not believe that Jesus is part of the Trinity, and other very strange things.

I do not support Romney for other reasons. He bounces back and fort on prolife, he personally put forward "Romney Care" in MA, and other reasons.
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written by j, June 11, 2011
You know, genetic testing has conclusively shown that American Indians are NOT Jewish, and thus not the lost tribe of Israel.

In some religions, the truth actually counts for something. No President should be capable of so blindly closing their eyes to the truth.

Thankfully, Romney and Obama aren't our only two choices. Tell Romney to stop "windsurfing" with his positions before he runs again - it didn't work for Kerry either.
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written by Manfred, June 11, 2011
Dear Seth R.:

Can you provide any evidence from a historical source, other than the LDS, that Nephi ever existed? Is he mentioned in any Jewish, Roman or Greek histories? It is not my intent to offend you, but the Book of Mormon is similar to the Quran, i.e., it contains snatches of religious "truths" taken from Judaeo-Catholicism which is the True Religion going back 5,670 years. This "chassis" (J-C) has produced 30,000 "Christian" sects, all false, containing millions o believers.
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written by C the B, June 11, 2011
Romney's mormon faith is without a doubt a strange one, that falls outside the boundaries of biblical orthodoxy. However, that is not the reason he will not be getting my vote. The fact of the matter is that on all those social issues that we share a common view on with evangelicals, mormons, orthodox jews, etc. he is utterly milquetoast. I don't know much about Jon Huntsman, but if he has shown a robust attitude to the "life issues" during his days as Governor of Utah, I would be partial to voting for him, magic underwear and all.
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written by Scott, June 11, 2011
Thank you for this excellent article. Catholics should recognize the elements of bigotry and anti-Catholic type rhetoric. While people need not agree with tenants of another person's faith, we should recognize bigotry for what it is and not support it.
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written by Trish, June 11, 2011
I come from a family inundated with so called Mormon theology, they abhor Catholics (which I am) and they are not Christians. Make no mistake,they adhere to every utterance and decree from their church leaders.
Read Steve Benson (grandfather a president of the church) or Tal Bachman (long time devout Mormon)and you'll learn everything you need to know about this so called religion.
How could any knowledgeable Christian vote for Romney?
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written by Doug H, June 11, 2011
A good response to Warren Smith's original article. One point on Smith's examples of continuing revelation in practice, polygamy and Blacks receiving the priesthood. In the case of polygamy, per the Book of Mormon monogamy is the default, unless God specifically orders otherwise. Which would mean He can revoke it as well. (Jacob 2: 27-30)

For the Blacks receiving the priesthood, I grew up before the revelation and can remember what we were taught: that the Blacks would receive the priesthood in time, most likely after Jesus' return. I can also remember how my mother cried with joy when we learned we were wrong. (I was too young to understand what the big deal was - we knew it was coming, it came earlier than expected, so what?)

@ Manfred: Considering that one of the books he's written is "The New Mormon Challenge" (an interesting read, by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed it), I would presume that he knows quite a bit about the Book of Mormon.

@ Judy: I'm sorry to hear of your negative experience, just please don't take it as the norm. I'm a lifelong Mormon, and I have never seen anti-Catholic sentiment in the co-religionists that I've personally known.

On whether the Book of Mormon was anti-Catholic, in my opinion only if you read it with anti-Catholic bias already in place, leading to sloppy, distorted reasoning. (Only two churches, one is Catholicism, and the numbers of the other are few? Really?)

@ j: You're right, genetic testing conclusively demonstrates that those American Indians tested aren't Jewish. It's a good thing that the Book of Mormon doesn't claim that all the inhabitants of the Americas are descended from the Nephites and Lamanites. Though I can understand people's confusion on the matter, that's what most Mormons have believed for most of our history. Again, sloppy reasoning based on preconceptions. Most of the BoM takes place in an area that can't be larger than around three hundred miles to a side.
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written by Seth R., June 11, 2011
Manfred, your comment is irrelevant to the point I was making, which was that even if you approach the Book of Mormon from a believing perspective, it isn't anti-Catholic.

As for whether there is any evidence of Nephi existing, that's a red herring. The history of the Book of Mormon took place in the Americas - where we simply don't have as good of an archeological and historical record as in the Middle East. So comparing the Book of Mormon with the Bible in the archeology department is an utter apples-and-oranges comparison.

I would also point out that the true power of a a book like the Bible (and the Book of Mormon) is in its FAITH claims.

And the faith claims of the Bible are no more archeologically and historically established than the faith claims of the Book of Mormon. Which puts us on equal footing in all essential aspects, as far as I'm concerned.

As a final point - your assertion that only non-Mormon sources can be valid in this debate is just silly. It's an ad-hominem argument used by people who are don't want to do the work of actually engaging Mormon scholarship. If a piece of scholarship is valid, and makes valid points, it shouldn't matter whether a Mormon wrote it - should it?

But just to play along, what would you consider to be valid and definitive evidence that Nephi existed?
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written by Seth R., June 11, 2011
Judy, most Mormons misunderstand the Catholic doctrine of the "trinity."

When a Mormon hears the word "Trinity" he usually automatically equates it with the heresy of modalism (the idea that God is one being who just wears different hats, or shapeshifts into two other forms). So just about every statement by a Mormon hostile to the idea of trinity is actually a statement hostile to the idea of modalism.

Question your Mormon acquaintances sometime on what they think the word "trinity" means sometime. I bet you'll find they're actually objecting to modalism, not the trinity.

And the Book of Mormon is actually more strongly trinitarian than the Bible is. It's even more explicit in its declarations that Father, Son and Spirit are "One God" than the Bible is.

At any rate, we consider Jesus to be one with God and fully divine, with all power and glory. We worship God the Father in Jesus name, and no other - just as he instructs us in the four Gospels.

Which makes us trinitarian enough in my book.
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written by Roz, June 11, 2011
The point of the original article by Warren Cole Smith to counter the stance that Romney's values, rather than his religion, should be the basis of consideration of his candidacy. As he sums it up, "If the beliefs are false, then the behavior will eventually—-but inevitably—-be warped."

I agree that bad beliefs lead to bad theology, but I'm not convinced it would lead to a bad presidency.

The best way of testing Smith's theory would be to (1) consider other Mormons in positions of great responsibility and see how they fulfill their roles, and (2) examine the degree to which the espoused religious views of presidents appear to have affected their decision-making while in office.

As to the first point, from what I know, Mormons who head large organizations are notable for their solid values and the way those inform their managerial styles. Marriott Corporation, perhaps the most notable example, is a case study of solid business strategy and people-centered personnel policies.

Addressing the second question, it doesn't appear that John Kennedy's Catholicism was sufficient to cause him to live a sexually-moral life, nor do Obama's claimed evangelical Christian beliefs seem to have influenced either his personal positions on issues nor contributed to notably effective leadership.

So this Catholic, who will not support Romney, believes that rejecting a Mormon candidate out of hand is mistaken, though observing their values and whether they act in accord with what they say they believe is crucial.

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written by Manfred, June 11, 2011
Thank you for your reply, Seth. There is nothing ad hominem or Mormon v. Catholic in any of my remarks. This is scholarship. Circle the year 1800 Anno Domino. Mormonism did not exist prior to that. If Mormonism existed in the Americas centuries ago, why don't we have ruins to study such as we find of the Incas and the Aztecs? Certainly the Mormon civilization was superior to these. Proof Nephi existed? Why don't we start with the Golden Plates which Mormons of the 19th century attested existed but have never been found? The Catholic Bible v. The Book of Mormon-"in the reign of Tiberius Caesar", "suffered under Pontius Pilate", etc. The entire Old and New Testament is identified with historical figures whose existence can be proven from official records and who existed at the time of the incidents described. Faith requires understanding which is why Aquinas began with the ancient Greeks who had no revealed religion but were able to prove from reason the existence of a being who had to be permanent and never die, the existence of the soul and existence of an afterlife where a soul would be rewarded or damned because justice demanded this! What does one find in the Summa? Proofs which can be understood by reason alone. Faith must follow understanding. Remove this philosophic foundation and you have the world we live in today.
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written by Raymond Takashi Swenson, June 11, 2011
Once again, among the commenters we see an amazing display of the proclamation of ignorance as absolute truth.

But let me start with one thing in Professor Beckwith's article. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not proclaim that its leaders are "infallible". Neither does it believe that any of the early apostles like Peter or prophets like Moses were "infallible". The Book of Mormon specifically asserts that the men who authored and edited its words were imperfect. Any one word or sentence taken out of context might be misleading, but the body of teaching is considered a reliable guide.

To accuse members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of "racism" because there were limits on ordination of people of African descent until 1978 is as valid as claiming that all Americans were "racist" because there was no national law against racial discrimination until 1964. Mormons in 1830 sought to proselyte American Indians, and began missionary work in Tahiti in 1844. the first Mormon temple outside North America was opened in 1919 in Hawaii, serving polynesian converts. Missionary work in Japan was begun in 1901. And there have always been a number of Mormons of African descent, including among the members in my own congregation in Salt Lake when I was a boy in the 1950s and an Army paratrooper we baptized in 1974 who told me that he had visited many churches in Colorado Springs, but the Mormons were the ones who welcomed him.

Associating "racism" with "Mormons" is irrational now. There are a quarter million Mormons in Africa, and many of the million Mormons in Brazil are of African descent, not to mention many of the 100,000 Mormons in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Mexico has a million Mormons, and there are millions more throughout Latin America. There are a million Mormons in Polynesia, the Philippines and Asia, including a third of Tongans and many of the Maori of New Zealand, along with a hundred thousand in Japan and others in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, India and Mongolia. That diversity is reflected in the students of BYU Hawaii.

And among the "white" members of the LDS Church in Utah, you will find thousands who have lived two years among the people of all of those nations, sharing their food and learning their languages, as depicted well in the movie "The Other Side of Heaven".

I am a Japanese-American Mormon, whose father was a US Air Force sergeant in the Occupation when he married my mother, and then served as a missionary among the people the US had been fighting only a few years before.

Mormonism's fundamental doctrines emphasize that all peoples of the earth began their existence as the spirit children of God the Father, and that our mortal sojourn is a test of our willingness to accept the path back to the Father through the atoning sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. Unlike some Christians who believe most of earth's present and former inhabitants are condemned to eternal damnation, Mormons believe that the spirits of our dead ancestors can hear and accept Christ in their present state, and that it is incumbent on us to perform vicariously on their behalf those ordinances, including baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy ghost, which they did not accept during their mortal lives. Mormons believe all men and women are children of God in the most literal sense, and are owed respect and dignity as such. Mormons believe that God's purposes are not fulfilled unless all His children are given full freedom to choose their religious beliefs for themselves. Mormons believe that their Christian neighbors who do NOT join the LDS Church will still receive an eternal reward of endless happiness in the presence of Christ, basically everything their own churches teach them to expect.

The Book of Mormon is a powerful witness of the reality of Jesus Christ. It affirms that he was resurrected and glorified as the Son of God, and is the God of the whole earth, not just Palestine. The Book of Mormon teaches that the mission of Christ was taught by God to ancient prophets, not only among Abraham's descendants (as Isaiah), but also in other nations. The Book of Mormon and all other official LDS literature can be read for free online at lds.org. It is available in several languages, and volumes in a hundred other tongues can be obtained for the asking.

Mitt Romney made millions in his work, and has been working for free since he took over the 2002 Olympics. He doesn't need a government job to pay the bills. His taxes, and his contributions to his church and charities exceed the presidential salary. His actions are purely motivated by a desire to serve. Anyone can disagree with his policy positions, but he has demonstrated by his faithfulness to his unpopular religious beliefs (which led to his defeat in his run for the Senate against Ted Kennedy) that he is sincere and not someone who casually changes his convictions to please the crowd.
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written by sam, June 11, 2011
Why such scare tactics re Romney? Yes, he is Mormon which means is also an ethically moral person who takes ethics and morals seriously. He is one of the few present candidates (R) who has never divorced, married for many years, has a wholesome family and family life; no scandalous talk or behavior; (which even many of the Evangelical's cannot lay claim to); He's polite, congenial, intelligent, experienced & successful in governing and business; is respected and respectful; has kept maturing in his outlooks and values w/re to the important cultural issues of the day, as he studies these most pertinent issues - life and marriage (which means he is not a flipping but growing).
As a Catholic I can say, sadly, that Kennedy was not comparable in morals and ethics to Romney. Nor were many of the Kennedy family. One cannot base decisions re a person's ethics and morals on anything except how they have lived and are living their lives. I see no reason why he wouldn't make a good POTUS. Few others can match his record.
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written by Seth R., June 11, 2011
Manfred, I'm not particularly impressed with the cosmological argument or a lot of the other so-called "proofs" that Greek philosophy has left to the Catholic Church and its offspring. A lot of them rely on pure question-begging when you strip them down to their most fundamental level.

And your rejection of all scholarship authored by Mormons certainly is an ad hominem sort of argument. It proposes to impose a religious litmus test on scholarship in exactly the same way that Warren Smith proposes to impose a religious litmus test on US politics.

And your historic proofs of the Bible are utterly irrelevant here.

We've also located the city of Troy, and verified a lot of the characters of the Odyssey in history.

Does this mean we should start worshiping Zeus?

I would imagine you would say no. Which is exactly why your attempt to refute my religion by comparing it to the historical record yours has is misguided and irrelevant.
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written by Francis J. Beckwith, June 11, 2011
Dear Raymond:

Here's what I wrote: "For example, suppose that Mr. X, a Mormon, believes that marriage is a one-flesh communion between one man and one woman, and thus he aligns himself with the Catholic tradition, though he believes this understanding of marriage because he heard it from a Mormon prophet and he believes that the prophet speaks infallibly on such matters."

I did not say that the Mormon Church teaches that the prophet is infallible. I said that the fellow in my example, Mr. X "believes this understanding of marriage because he heard it from a Mormon prophet and he believes that the prophet speaks infallibly on such matters." I am referring to Mr. X's belief, not to any LDS doctrine about the nature of the prophetic office. Nevertheless, one could say, as the Catholic Church says of the Pope, that he is a flawed man and is not infallible, except in certain narrow and definable cases.

When I write something every word counts. When I say "Mr. X, a Mormon, believes Y," I am saying what Mr. X believes, not what is official LDS doctrine. If I say "Mr. X, a Mormon, hopes Dallas beats Miami tomorrow night, I am not claiming that the LDS Church holds an official position on who should win the NBA championship.

However, this raises an interesting question: could a present day LDS prophet declare the Book of Mormon mistaken? If not, then you in fact believe like the Catholics that your leader is just incapable of certain mistakes. And in that case, you have to have some doctrine of infallibility (or doctrinal impeccability vested in the prophetic office).
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written by Francis J. Beckwith, June 11, 2011
Seth:

As for the cosmological argument, its soundness does not depend on the ethnicity of the philosopher who offered it. (I have no idea why anyone would believe that a "Greek" philosopher is incapable of making sound arguments simply because he is Greek. Plato's argument against relativism in the Gorgias and in the Republic seems to work, despite his Greecian DNA.)

As for the influence of Greek philosophy on the development of Christian doctrine, let me encourage you to read Etienne Gilson's God and Philosophy, Pope Benedict's Resenberg address, and a piece I published 10 years ago in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society: "Mormon Theism, the Traditional Christian Concept of God, and Greek Philosophy: A Critical Analysis." You can find it online here: http://homepage.mac.com/franci...SGreek.pdf
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written by Blake Helgoth, June 12, 2011
The reason I will not vote for Romney is that he has simply shown no evidence that he will refuse to be a tool of international corporations and the fed. We are never going to get out of this mess if we continue the push for world wide socialism. Romney has given us no evidence that he even dislikes the machine, much less evidence exist that he is will to fight it. Oh, and as far as Catholicism goes, world wide socialism would be for Catholics, to put it mildly.
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written by Louise, June 12, 2011
There is only one question that needs to be asked and answered about any belief of Mormonism, Islam, Christian Science, Hinduism, Presbyterianism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Four-Square Gospel Believers, etc. etc. The question is: Is it true?

Contradictory beliefs cannot both be true. If Catholicism is true, anything that contradicts it is not true, since Jesus promised Peter that, when the Holy Spirit would come, He (not it) would lead His Church into all Truth. If Jesus said it, it must be true, because He cannot lie. (If He can lie, what good is He?)

Insofar as any belief conforms to what the Catholic Church believes, it is true. If it does not conform or if it contradicts, it is not true, and Jesus is a liar, and no better than the worst of us.

It is often said that all religions must be respected. Why? Truth, wherever it is found, is God's truth and must, of necessity, be consistent with Catholic Truth.

Human beings, created by God, must be respected because each human being existed first in the mind of God. Ideas deserve respect only if they are true. If a religion teaches something that is not true, is not consistent with God's truth, that idea deserves no respect.

Today is the Feast of Pentecost. Today of all days, we ought to take Jesus at His Word.

Belloc said it all in just a few words: There is not, nor has there ever been any religion called Christianity. There is only the Church. that always was and always will be. (The exact quotation can be found in Chapter 7 of "The Great Heresies", available on line, free of charge.)

Therefore, the phrase "traditional Christianity" (used in the essay) is redundant. Is there a "non-traditional Christianity"? I don't think so. There is only the Church and the promise made by Christ that He would keep it free from error.

Happy Feast of Pentecost to all.

One question only needs be asked: Is it True?




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written by Fr.Robert, June 12, 2011
I welcome the intelligent approach that Seth R. brings to this discussion and think we need to treat our Mormon friends respectfully even if we have deep disagreements with them (look at the great alliance forged int he face of Prop. 8 among RCs, LDSers, and Evangelicals!)

But one question I have always had about the Mormon claim to be the re-constituted True Church is the following:

Could the LDS Church today, given the claimed apostolic presence if it Prophet, apostatize? Or does the presence of the Prophet offer a sound and reliable (dare I use the word infallible) guide to keeping the True Church true?

I think you see where I am going with this, specifically: if this gift of indefectability to the True Church is given to the Church as it was re-constituted in the 19th century, was it not given to the Church in the 1st century? And if not, why not?

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written by Seth R., June 12, 2011
Fr. Robert, your proposed scenario of a prophet apostatizing is certainly one that would be a major crisis for the LDS Church. I don't claim to predict what would happen in that instance. It's anyone's guess.

There's a bit of a joke I heard once on the subject which says "Catholic doctrine says that the Pope is infallible - but no one really believes that. While Mormon doctrine says that the Prophet is not infallible - but no one really believes that."

In my experience the joke has a bit of truth to it - at least on the Mormon side.

As to how the Mormon notion of apostasy occurred. I think the idea will evolve as Mormon understanding of 1st, 2nd and 3rd century history evolves. We've had our share of unformed and untested beliefs on the subject that have not always withstood scrutiny. For one thing, I think the popular LDS notion that the early Church went into apostasy due to outside pressure from the Romans, the Jews, and others (namely killing off leadership) is not really accurate. I also do not place the blame of the apostasy on the Council of Nicea, as is popular among some other Mormon demagogues.

Mr. Beckwith, it is important to clarify here that I do not use the word "Greek" as a sort of unequivocal slur - implying that anything "Greek" should be avoided. I use the word to specify origins of certain thoughts. I feel like the ancient Greeks had a lot of useful contributions, but I just don't share their assumptions about ontology. Which matters quite a bit when you are talking about classical Christian apologetics.

That said, I think the Greeks played a valuable role in theologically establishing the early Christian Church. By the time just before Nicea, the status of Christian thought and theology was a mess and in danger of being too weak to sustain a lasting movement. Nicea was a vital and necessary corrective to that state of weakness and confusion (you won't hear a lot of lay Mormons saying this - but I'll say it anyway). As it so happens, I think the council got some things wrong. But it also got some things right - and laid a foundation that managed to provide a stable incubator for Christ's message for two millennia.

So I don't consider the Greeks to be unequivocally bad, nor do I view their legacy (such as the doctrines of Nicea) to be unequivocally negative. In some ways, they were a good fit for Christianity. But in other ways, I don't think they were.

Final clarification - I'm not trying to isolate Greek influence to Nicea (which some Mormons do). I realize Greek thought and influence was well established - even when Christ was conducting his mortal ministry. It was an intellectual influence on Christianity from the very beginning. But I do not think that makes it automatically right.
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written by Manfred, June 12, 2011
Prof. Beckwirth: The changing of LDS teaching on polygamy and priesthood have nothing to do with moving toward Catholicism. Polygamy was suspended in order to allow Utah, a largely Mormon state at the time, to enter the Union. Polygamy is still practiced by Mormon communities in Arizona and Oregon today. The change in the attitude toward blacks, including the priesthood, resulted from tremendous pressure during the civil rights movement to which the Mormons acquiesced in order to remain relevant. When any item, including a building, a car, or a religion is man-made, it is very easy to modify it. The progressive "Catholic" leadership tried this over the last fifty years, but God would not allow it! The Mormon priesthood in no way resembles the Catholic sacerdotal priesthood. By the way, I should have writtten Anno Domani in an earlier post and Benedict gave his address at Regensberg.
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written by Doug H, June 12, 2011
@ Manfred: I'm not really sure why you expect Nephi to be mentioned in any Jewish or Greek histories, he was a teenager when he left Jerusalem with his family (and Roman sources are right out, this is around 600 B.C.). Where in non-Christian sources do you find contemporary mention of Peter or Paul? Jesus barely makes a blip and some of that possibly forged, and he's the most important person to ever live on the Earth.

@ Fr.Robert: An interesting question, and one I would split up into three: Can the Church leadership apostatize? Can the body of the Church apostatize? And if the answer to both is no, why isn't the same applied to the original Christians?

For the first, individually, yes. The early days of the LDS Church saw a number of high-ranking leaders fall away, though some came back later. Likewise there's Judas Iscariot in the Gospels, and while I don't know of any of the first apostles doing so later (including his replacement), I do know there were some serious disagreements - the Book of Acts and Paul in his letters mentions the one over dietary restrictions. I would not be surprised if we were to learn that some of the early apostles and second-tier leaders apostatized when decisions didn't go their way. However, that is not the same as the leadership as a body apostatizing. There, I say no: it can't happen now, and it didn't happen in the early days of the original Church.

So, the second question, can the body of the Church apostatize? There, the answer is clearly yes. It happened over and over in the Old Testament (it's much of what the prophets railed against and behind Elijah's despair). For the LDS, it happened over and over in the Book of Mormon, eventually leading to the destruction of what was left of Nephite civilization (not much by that point). LDS doctrine is that it happened again after the first generation of Jesus' disciples. Not hard to understand how, considering how decentralized and spread out things were - much of Paul's letters are written to combat one heresy or another. And we all have the free will God gave us, so conceivably it could happen again. However, if our free will does not abrogate the prophecies of God's messengers, no, it won't happen.

And so, for the third question, that's mostly answered by the second except for the question of prophecy. After all, Matthew 16:17-19 says "... and on this rock I will build my community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it." (New Jerusalem translation) To me, it looks as if the "it" at the end can refer to revelation, to Peter, or to the Church. Traditionally, mainstream churches and sects have understood that to mean that the Church can never fall, though for me that is rather hard to make fit with Protestant views of the Catholic Church. Traditional LDS theology is that what the "it" that can never be overpowered is revelation, rather than the Church. For me any of the three work, though in the case of Peter and the community you need a somewhat different understanding of "overpower it." After all, according to tradition Peter was crucified, and the LDS believe that the early Church apostatized. For me, you need to understand "overpower" as "preventing from achieving its purpose" - Peter may have been killed and the Church fallen into apostasy, but the yeast of the Judeo-Christian moral framework was solidly planted and would eventually grow to transform Western society, preparing the way for God's Church to be reintroduced (as well as making things better for God's children in general - He didn't just pick those moral principals out of a hat). So no, God's purpose was fulfilled, and "the gates of the underworld" did not prevail against it, whichever of the three "it" is.
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written by Manfred, June 12, 2011
May I recommend to all readers a book I read about three years ago and found enjoyable and fascinating? It is written by Jon Krakauer who himself was raised a Mormon but apparently no longer is practicing. You know him as the author of "Into Thin Air" which deals with the Mt. Everest climb where some climbers perished. His study of the LDS church is titled "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith".

@Louise: Thank you or another outstanding comment!
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written by Achilles, June 12, 2011
It is nice to see Mormons come to comment, but all that cleverness is of little avail, except perhaps in assuaging the doubts of individual mormons that trust themselves more than the Truth.
C.S. Lewis in That Hideous Strength said “There are dozens of answers to every question until you find the right answer and then there is only one.”
Is it not common knowledge that the cleverest Mormons of all are at this moment holed up at BYU furiously rewriting mormon doctrine to line up more with Christianity?
Have any of you mormons read James Herricks book The Making of the New Spirituality? Do you have a sound defense of his account of the origins of your Mormon faith? Better make it a clever one.
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written by Fr.Robert, June 12, 2011
Seth: This is very interesting. And I apologize that I did not know that the Mormon Prophet was not considered infallible. I just presumed that was the case. Would the LDS Church hold to a kind of indefectability of the Church?

What I find most intriguing is that you (Mormon theology) ave not version of a 'development of doctrine' alla Newman (if you have not read his work on this, I urge you to). From this fact and what you have said about about Mormons mistaken the doctrine of the Trinity for Modalism, might it some day be the case that the LDS Church might develop a formal embrace of Trinitarianism? I understand 9though I may be mistaken here) that the Reorganized LDS in effect did this. This, you know, is the main sticking point for Roman Catholics and most Evangelicals embracing Mormons as more than friends (which I consider you to be),but also as brothers.
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written by Seth R., June 12, 2011
Fr. Robert,

A lot of Mormon scholars I know of are actually "Social Trinitarians" (if you are familiar with that movement). So the word "trinitarian" is experiencing a bit of a surge in popularity among LDS scholars at least - though certainly not among most average Mormons.

The real place where we are going to run into difficulties on this issue is not the bare doctrine of Trinity, but rather the theological notion of homoousis (or is it homoousios?....) - the idea that all three beings share the same essence.

Mormon scholars typically find this particular notion to be vague, confusing, and self-refuting. As a result, almost none of them subscribe to it.

Frankly speaking, most Mormons are tri-theists and almost none are modalists. The closest we get to your position is "social trinitarianism" and I honestly don't see us edging any closer.
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written by Seth R., June 12, 2011
Achilles, that's a nice conspiracy theory you've got going on there.

I'm personally acquainted with these "Mormon apologists" you are referring to. And most of them are not "holed up at BYU." I'm an attorney in Colorado, and never received a dime from the LDS Church. Nor are most of them trying to rewrite the doctrine. Nor are most of them even remotely interested in becoming "more like the rest of Christianity."

I have absolutely zero desire to become just one more dime-a-dozen Protestant denomination offering the same unvaried view as everyone else.

Mormonism is NOT Catholicism. It is NOT Protestantism. It is NOT E. Orthodoxy.

We are a new world religion in our own right. And if I have my way, we'll stay that way.

Manfred,

Krakauer is an amusing storyteller, but not a credible authority on religion - of any kind. He pulled just about all his history from Fawn Brodie's severely outdated biography of Joseph Smith - "No Man Knows My History." Brodie's book was groundbreaking for its time, but her scholarship is quite dated in many respects. And her attempts at applying Freudian psychology were amateurish at best. She was utterly skewered by her fellow historians when she tried the same Freudian nonsense on Thomas Jefferson, when she attempted a biography on him.

And, just a tip here, but you might not want to be promoting Krakauer's book, as a Catholic.

Contrary to what you might think, Krakauer's thesis was not that "Mormons are strange and worrying people."

No - his thesis was that "religion is inherently violent in nature, and makes people do crazy things."

Krakauer basically has the same thesis in "Under the Banner of Heaven" that Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens do - religion is poisonous and violent.

Krakauer uses Mormonism as a CASE-STUDY, but in reality, he's punching all religion in the face with his thesis - including you Catholics.

Are you sure Manfred, that this is the sort of book you want your fellow Catholics to be reading?
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written by Louise, June 12, 2011
Belloc:

"To many who have no sympathy with Catholicism, who inherit the old
Protestant animosity to the Church (although doctrinal Protestantism is
now dead) and who think that any attack on the Church must somehow or
other be a good thing, the struggle already appears as a coming or present attack on what they call "Christianity."

"You will find people saying on every side that the Bolshevist
movement (for instance) is "definitely anti-Christian"-_"opposed to every
form of Christianity"_and must be "resisted by all Christians irrespective
of the particular Church to which each may belong," and so on.

"Speech and writing of this kind are futile because they mean
nothing definite. There is no such thing as a religion called
"Christianity"--there never has been such a religion.

"There is and always has been the Church, and various heresies
proceeding from a rejection of some of the Church's doctrines by men who still desire to retain the rest of her teaching and morals. But there
never has been and never can be or will be a general Christian religion
professed by men who all accept some central important doctrines, while
agreeing to differ about others. There has always been, from the
beginning, and will always be, the Church, and sundry heresies either
doomed to decay, or, like Mohammedanism, to grow into a separate religion. Of a common Christianity there has never been and never can be a definition, for it has never existed.

"There is no essential doctrine such that if we can agree upon it
we can differ about the rest: as for instance, to accept immortality but
deny the Trinity. A man will call himself a Christian though he denies the
unity of the Christian Church; he will call himself a Christian though he
denies the presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament; he will
cheerfully call himself a Christian though he denies the Incarnation.

"No; the quarrel is between the Church and the anti-Church_the
Church of God and anti-God_the Church of Christ and anti-Christ."
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Why do we talk about and treat heresy as if it were true? as if there were varieties of Truth? Why do we talk about "traditional Christianity" as if God has said "Let there be vanilla and chocolate and strawberry Christianity", and not just the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, once delivered to the saints, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism? And for those who don't like that brand, God says, "Here's some tutti fruiti for you."

That way lies Chaos, and Chaos is opposed to order and reason. Chaos is of Satan.

Later in the chapter, Belloc describes the Modern Phase of heresy as an attack upon Reason, when men will not acknowledge or even recognize the intellectual contradictions in their own thinking. What have most of these comments been but intellectual contradictions, trying to prove that whatever suits my version of Truth is true?--pruning and trimming here and there to make them fit into some impossible whole, unrecognizable to Reason, because, at their foundations, they are denials of Christ and His Truth, and they call Him a liar. Men once said, "If you are the Christ, come down from the cross," now they say, "You are not the Christ because you didn't keep your promise. You have failed, so now we have made our own Christ and we can remake him whenever circumstances demand it."

"There is, and always has been, the Church."

"When the Holy Spirit comes, He will lead you into all truth."

". . . and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.."








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written by Howard Kainz, June 12, 2011
@Seth: I come from a family that, on my father's side, is still mostly Mormon. As a child and a young man, I experienced some anti-Catholicism, but nothing extreme. In my research on Mormonism, I found those passages from Nephi very often cited as referring to the Catholic Church. Bruce R. McConkie's 1958 book, Mormon Doctrine, characterizes the Catholic Church as "the most abominable above all churches." But in the revised 1966 edition, references to the Catholic Church as the church of Satan were removed. And I think you are probably right that this vein of viral anti-Catholicism has diminished. I think Mormonism is doctrinally very deficient, and I have argued this point in my recent book, The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct. But if you take into account the natural law as a basis for judging a person's ethical integrity, I see no "red flags" in Romney's candidacy. It's important to vote, and my choice would depend on the alternatives available.
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written by Manred, June 12, 2011
"We are a new world religion in our own right. And if I have my way, we'll stay that way." Thank you finally for your candor. I said essentially the same thing about the LDS in three posts and you seemed to take umbrage. Here is how I was trained: "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know exactly where they stand, who know what they are for and what they are not, who understand their creed so well they can support it, who know so much history they can defend it". The religion of which Cdl. Newman wrote was the True One-Roman Catholicism. Be well, Seth.
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written by Seth R., June 12, 2011
Well Manred, I don't object to being different. But I would certainly prefer we be described accurately for what we - and our theology - actually ARE. Any posts I made would have been made to that purpose.

I should make one clarification. Mormons will almost all tell you that they want to be regarded as "Christian."

But don't make the mistake of thinking that means they all want to be "just like you" - they most certainly don't. At least I don't know that many faithful Mormons who do.

Howard, I'll certainly disagree that we are "doctrinally deficient." But we can amiably disagree on that point, and I appreciate the fair-mindedness of the rest of your last post.

Bruce R. McConkie is an interesting character. He wrote that book before he became an actual LDS apostle - while in the lower "Quorum of the Seventy." I guess the Catholic equivalent might be a something between a Bishop and a Cardinal (if the Catholic Church had 12 apostles in authority over the Cardinals). Several members of the Quorum of the Twelve asked him not to publish that book. They didn't want the membership to have the mistaken impression that the book represented the "last word" on LDS doctrine (turns out such concerns were well-founded). McConkie ignored them and published it anyway.

As you note, he was eventually compelled to remove some of the most anti-papist statements from the book in a later version.

McConkie is an important figure in Mormon history. I still have a copy of his book Mormon Doctrine that I use as a reference. But I make sure to take his views with a grain of salt and compare them to other authoritative sources.
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written by Richard Sherlock, June 13, 2011
As a former Mormon who is becoming a Catholic I have a big stake in this conversion. I know Mitt Romney personally and I am very doubtful about his candidacy. He has always been a country club republican like his father. Until he started running for the presidency he was proudly pro-choice and so was his mother when she ran for senate in Michigan in 1970. He is much too slick for my taste. And I do not like those disposed like Romney to moral moderation. On the great moral issues of our time abortion, gay marriage and the collapse of the family I prefer the clarity of Barry Goldwater "Let me remind you that extremism is no vice and moderation is no virtue" . Those here who are defending Mormonism are simply wrong. They proclaim that Talmadge (in works officially published by the LDS church) was wrong when he identified the Catholic church and the whore of Babylon) yet they sustain him and McConkie as "prophets seers and revelators" . It is either right or wrong. You ought to study patristics, philosophy, etc. as I have done and do as a profession. Then you might see that the fundamental Mormon claim of an apostacy is simply indefensible.
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written by Seth R., June 13, 2011
Well Richard, as I mentioned earlier - the LDS Church has no doctrine of infallibility - not with regards to prophets, and not with regards to scripture.

No doctrine of infallibility.

So it is not inconsistent at all to note that Talmage and McConkie got it wrong on one or two particular issues.
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written by Luke, June 13, 2011
@Seth R.,

I greatly enjoyed your measured, even responce above, but you lack a foundational, that is to say "basic", understanding of history it seems.

May I suggest you pick up the three volume set titled "Faith of the Early Fathers".
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written by Nick, June 13, 2011
Astonishingly, your article shows why it’s morally wrong to privatize religion (Classical Liberalism) such that when considering a candidate his religion need not be taken into account nor should the candidate impose his religious beliefs when making law. What’s sad is the widespread idea that what one believes is irrelevant in whether one is a viable candidate. This is precisely what led to the JFK fallacy that he can be Catholic in private only and thus push anti-Catholic agendas publicly since the two spheres are separate. Such results in a dualism that hits at the heart of the Gospel principle that we are to live our faith, including and especially when leading, not hide it under a basket.

Mormonism is in a wholly different arena in the Christian sphere, for it isn’t even technically Christian (while Protestantism is). So yes, a vote for Romney, if one is being honest with himself, is a vote for a non-Christian heretic. And don’t be deluded – unlike many confused Catholics, other religions are not afraid to publicly make known their religious beliefs.

The “anomaly” (maybe not) with Romney is that he strongly supports abortion (which the LDS allow) and gay rights and there are YouTube videos of this where he dukes it out in a public debate for Massachusetts candidacy to make himself be seen as more liberal (and thus more worthy) than Ted K. He’s a career politician in that he’ll say whatever it takes. But then again, the LDS church lacks the theological sophistication to even know or accept basic principles like the End does not justify the Means (a principle many religions don’t accept).

One consideration we as Catholics need to make is that does electing someone bring popularity to something sinful or wrong? If so, then that’s a strike against it. We all know that electing a Protestant or Catholic politician typically means electing a secularist-hedonist, so there is no new danger there. But electing a Mormon adds the danger of giving Mormonism legitimacy, encouraging people to think it’s “cool” or at least no big deal when it is. It’s equivalent to electing Hugh Hefner and thus giving his business legitimacy, even if he promises to be a ‘conservative’.

I'll end with a quote from Pope Leo XIII teaching a dogma of the Faith:

There are others [modern day Conservatives], somewhat more moderate though not more consistent, who affirm that the morality of individuals is to be guided by the divine law, but not the morality of the State, for that in public affairs the commands of God may be passed over, and may be entirely disregarded in the framing of laws. Hence follows the fatal theory of the need of separation between Church and State. But the absurdity of such a position is manifest. (Leo XIII, Libertas, 18)
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written by Seth R., June 15, 2011
The LDS Church generally opposes abortion, but it does so in a manner much differently from the Roman Catholic church.

We have no theology of "life" beginning at conception. We have no doctrine stating that soul and body are created together at any particular part in the prenatal process.

We also believe that human spirits pre-exist the conception and birthing process. So we have no concept of God creating a "life" ex nihilo at some point during or after conception. The process of conception to us is merely the process by which the physical body is prepared. We believe at some point the spirit enters into that body. But it is a pre-existing spirit, and it is not created on the spot.

Subsequently, we do not have the same sense of "loss of a unique life" that one does as a Catholic. Our assumption is simply that this particular spirit missed its chance to be born at this time, and will simply have to wait for the next opportunity.

Our Church leaders have come out strongly against abortion. However, you'll note that they rarely, if ever, use phrases about abortion being "murder," or the ending of a "life" in some legal sense. You might say that LDS theology is not particularly interested in these sorts of legalisms. We have little interest in when you do or do not have a "life." Nor do we consider having an abortion morally equivalent to murder.

Our objection to abortion is usually framed in terms of our objection to people running away from their responsibilities or the consequences of their actions. We object to the trivialization of the sexual process, which we hold to be a sacred stewardship - granted to human beings by God. We feel like he granted us his own creative power in some measure in this way - and that it should not be trivialized, or disrespected.

That is our objection to abortion. It's not the same objection that the Vatican has.

This is why we allow abortion in instances of rape, incest or significant threat to the life or health of the mother. But even in these instances, LDS policy directs that the people involved make it a matter of prayer and counsel with their bishop.

So you are mistaken about Romney in this case. It's not that he lacks a theological foundation.

He just has a different one than you do.
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written by richard Sherlock, June 16, 2011
Seth your discussion of abortion is mormonism but its intellectual and moral nonsense. This is my professional field so if you want to debate go ahead. When exactly does it become murder to end a life? What about killing a newborn? Down this road is moral nihilism. But your former comment about infallibilty simply cant be true. If so then Joseph Smith could be wrong when he made claims about the angel Moroni and the golden plates. If you say that every "true" Mormon must believe these things then they must be taught infallibly. One you admit this then you must be able to tell me what Mormons must believe and how one is to know what these are e.g taught by Joseph or other prophets? taught by more than one prophet? If there are no beliefs that Mormons must hold then Mormonism cannot be either true or false. Lets put it this way

Mormons say I know that P is true. where P is "the gospel"
What then is the cognitive content of P ?

If you cant tell me what P is then you can't say that P is true.
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written by Seth R., June 16, 2011
Richard, you'll just have to live with the nuance of life. Like most people do.

Very few people on the planet demand absolute infallibility from their religion - whether they admit it or not. For instance, Roman Catholicism has nuance between what the Pope says and what the scriptures say, and whether they can be influenced by "Tradition."

Even Bible-only Evangelicals usually turn out to be interpreting their Bible in light of traditional reads, and even their own political agendas on occasion.

So the sort of un-nuanced infallible sort of religion you are talking about is something that simply doesn't exist - in ANY faith tradition. I don't know why it should be a problem that it doesn't exist in Mormonism either.

And your slippery-slope argument on abortion doesn't really speak much to me either.

Of course you can draw the line somewhere. Most people do draw the line somewhere. You just have to have a sufficient moral basis to do it. I believe we have one.
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written by richard Sherlock, June 17, 2011
Seth,

You haven't what P is for Mormons. What do you think it is? Then, and only then can we evaluate Mormonism. Where do you draw the line and why. Slippery slope arguments can be perfectly valid and correctly. If you cant show a clear reason to distinguish an unborn child from born child then an argument for abortion will also justify killing a child. If you don't like this result then the reason for abortion must be wrong. The fact that it does not "speak to" someone is irrelevant
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written by Daniel Peterson, June 19, 2011
As a Latter-day Saint academic who has known Richard Sherlock for many years and has actually edited and published some of his work, I should point out that, as recently as just a few months ago, he was proclaiming his strong faith in Mormonism, and its theological superiority over classical theism (including mainstream Catholic views) on line. (He has also done so in print.) Richard is, of course, free to espouse Catholicism now, but I'm frankly disappointed by the newly minted anti-Mormon persona that he's adopted. I have considered him a friend, but, if he continues down this path, I and others will feel the need, out of commitment to our own faith, to respond to his claims.
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written by George, June 19, 2011
Well spoken sir! And well reasoned.
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written by Eichendorff, July 03, 2011
"You know, genetic testing has conclusively shown that American Indians are NOT Jewish, and thus not the lost tribe of Israel." (from J's post)

The problem with this statement is that neither the Book of Mormon nor any Latter-day Saint leader or member has ever claimed or believed that American Indians are Jewish, nor has anyone claimed that they are a lost tribe of Israel. The Nephites and Lamanites (two warring groups of people described in the Book of Mormon) were in part descended from Joseph, which is not one of the lost tribes.

Latter-day Saints believe that the lost tribes are, actually, lost. We don't know where they are.
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written by Steven Kramer, September 20, 2011
I have hearing about people not supporting Mitt Romney because he is not conservative enough, or that he is too liberal. First and foremost, Mitt Romney believes in the state government role over the federal government. Policies and laws which could work in Massachusetts may not work in Virginia or say Texas. The Federal government should not mandate that once cookie cutter policy fits. It is the old Federalism argument. Abraham Lincoln made numerous speeches about the role of State Government in the 1830's and 1840's.
As for the LDS role...Governor Romney is truer to his faith than many current Catholic Politicians are about theirs. I am not here to question his faith or doctrinal beliefs. I am supporting him becuase of his expertise in business and government.
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written by Micha Elyi, October 30, 2011
"...magic underwear..."-C the B

Do you really want to go there?

A scapular could also be disparaged as "magic underwear".
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written by Paige, February 29, 2012
Mormons can believe what they want (we live in a heavily populated mormon area) but it's some of their beliefs for women that I have a serious concern with. When my daughter's friend (in high school) came over one day and tells me that she's going to college to get a MRS degree because she doesn't want to end up being an "old cat lady", I thought she was kidding. She said no, that she's a good mormon girl. I see too many girls go to college not to pursue a degree to fall back on but get married Very young, and start immediately pumping out babies. Then they stay at home and their sole purpose is to raise the kids, maintain the home and husband. Many say that is their sole purpose in life but I wonder if they never wish for more or if they have been too blinded by their faith that they have lost their own identity and self.

As for the comment about mormons being judgemental that is VERY TRUE. Once a carpooling group I belonged to found out I wasn't mormon, I was told in a nice way that I won't be saved and I wasn't good enough. So much for leaving God to do the judging, apparently mormons already do that for him.
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written by Mary Matias, June 23, 2012
I'm a Catholic and I'm proud to be. First, we shouldn't judge anybody by what church they belong. Even Jesus didn't want His church to split up. But to those who read this, let me ask you two questions: What is the church that Jesus left us of the church he left St. Peter? And who split up from us? When you searched anything about the establishment of Catholicism, Jesus is the answer.
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written by Daniel Troppy, August 04, 2012
Well written and well said. The last thing this country needs is a phony conservative that hides his $$$, wanted to closed the American auto industry, shipped American jobs overseas, switched every position known to mankind at least twice and can't leave this country without embarrassing himself or this great country. Plus I can't picture him wearing those magical under wear garments all those Mormons wear without laughing. This is the poorest excuse for a Republican candidate I've ever seen.
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written by G R, October 31, 2012
Never thought the day would come that the Catholic Church would endorse an anti-Catholic and anti-Christian Mormon who at best puts the rich and powerful ahead of regular people. Romney believes when he dies, he will be God equal to Jesus Christ. For him to believe he can become equal to God is
Satanic !

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