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Mitt Romney's Faith

The God of Mitt Romney: Why do some claim he's not Christian?

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Millionaire and international businessman Mitt Romney could be the first clergyman elected as president of the United States in over 120 years (the only other was James A. Garfield in 1881, a part-time lay-minister whose term lasted a brief six months). While Romney was building his career at Bain Capital, he was also a Mormon bishop (equivalent to a pastor) and a stake president (presiding over several area congregations) in suburban Belmont, Mass.The constitution may not require a religious test, but many voters still want a Christian leader at the helm.As many know, Mitt Romney belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or “Mormons”), a religious minority, with an estimated 6,229,233 members of record in the US (representing about 2% of US population, see Mormon Newsroom.).

This unprecedented election means that religious and non-religious voters will be interested in knowing what factors may influence Romney's acceptance and ultimately his election.We've examined both LDS and critical views on claims that Romney is or is not Christian, based on official & widely accepted doctrines of the LDS church.

Despite some small and some vast differences from traditional Christianity in LDS doctrine, members of the LDS church will vigorously defend their being Christians.After all, the church is officially called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Believers from other denominations visiting an LDS Sacrament meeting will also recognize that one of the main focuses is the sacrament of bread and water representing the emblems of Christ's sacrifice.LDS members believethey emphasize Jesus in their lives and at church, that “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26).

Still, the differences can be vast, and some are summarized below, primarily using LDS prophetic utterances & scripture canon, including the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, Book of Moses and the Doctrine & Covenants (D&C)—all believed by LDS as divine scripture translated or revealed to Joseph Smith.

While LDS members “believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (Article of Faith 1), there are several key differences from traditional Christianity:

  • In LDS theology, the distinct nature and form of God the Father, having a tangible body and a definite location within the matter of the universe differs from the Spirit viewpoint of the Father.(“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also”) and a Holy Spirit (“a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us”). (see D&C 130:22-23).
  • God the Father is called Elohim by Joseph Smith (e.g., he replaced “God” with “Elohim”, also it is used in the LDS Bible Dictionary and Bible Topical Guide).Note: the word Elohim is an improper pluralized form of “Eloha” the Hebrew word for God.
  • Modern LDS teachings say that which fills the whole universe is only the Holy Spirit. (D&C 88:7; Moroni 7:18-19).
  • LDS teaching designates the primary location of God's throne as existing in a specific part of the universe:”Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord's time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God” (Abraham 3:9).The location of a place named Kolob, however, is never specified.(Note: this is hardly different than what the Bible would call “Heaven” and how it attempts to define it and locate it above us.)
  • The prophet Joseph Smith gave a sermon in which he taught: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exaltedman…you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man…I am going to tell you how God came to be God…that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 345-346, Deseret Book, 2006.See also, the first edition of the official History of the Church, vol. VI, ch. XIII, pp. 300-307, published by Deseret News, 1912. )

2. Jesus

  • According to LDS teachings, the atonement was primarily enacted by Jesus bleeding through every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane and culminating in death on the cross. (See 2 Nephi 9:21; Mosiah 3:7.)
  • Modern LDS revelations explain that Jesus in pre-earth life is known as Jehovah. “[Jesus] is Jehovah, and was foreordained to his great calling in the Grand Councils before the world was.” (LDS Bible Dictionary.)
  • While no longer officially held by the LDS church, it was once taught by prophets & apostles of the LDS church that Jesus as the only begotten of the Father in the flesh was conceived just as human babies are: "The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood - was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young, 8:115.) Also: "There is no need to spiritualize away the plain meaning of the scriptures. There is nothing figurative or hidden or beyond comprehension in our Lord's coming into mortality. He is the Son of God in the same sense and way that we are the sons of mortal fathers. It is just that simple." (The Promised Messiah, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, p.468.)

3. Evil & Satan
One cannot discuss God & Christ without understanding evil and its source.LDS doctrines on this include:

  • The LDS Bible Dictionary says, “The devil is the enemy of righteousness and of those who seek to do the will of God. Literally a spirit son of God, he was at one time ‘an angel' in authority in the presence of God; however, he rebelled in the premortal life, at which time he persuaded a third of the spirit children of the Father to rebel with him, in opposition to the plan of salvation championed by Jehovah (Jesus Christ). ‘Thus came the devil and his angels' (D&C 29:37). They were cast out of heaven, and were denied the experience of mortal bodies and earth life.”
  • LDS believe Satan is the source of all evil that exists among humans. (Moroni 7:12; Moses 4:4).Also, that Satan's greatest sin was to elevate himself to God's throne, and be like God himself (D&C 76:26-28)
  • Satan is a literal spirit brother to Jehovah (Jesus in the pre-earth life), this because Satan and Jesus are both spirit sons of God the Father according to Mormon theology. (See Moses 4:1-4; Abraham 3:27-28.)
  • The Book of Mormon teaches that God would cease to be God if there were no opposition (evil):“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so… righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. … And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God” (2 Ne 2:11-13).Additionally that if there were no sin, and hence no justice, then “the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God” (Alma 42:22).

4. God's purpose for humankind

  • LDS teachings hold that we are co-eternal with God, having lived forever before earth-life and will exist forever after death. (Abraham 3:22-23 & 27-28; Moses 4:4)
  • Mormon theology teaches that at death, only those that have received and accepted the LDS gospel & baptism can enter into paradise.All other spirits will reside in spirit prison (if they were honorable in life) or in hell (if they were very sinful in life). (See Alma 40:12; D&C 76:73-75 & 84-85.)
  • The LDS heaven is divided into many levels, including the Telestial (D&C 76:81,109), Terrestrial (D&C 76:71-77) and Celestial glories (D&C 76:70, 58-60).
    • Those in the lower glories (telestial & terrestrial) will be designated as angels which will be subject to the power of those in the highest glory, who “shall they be gods…from everlasting to everlasting…they shall have all power, and the angles are subject unto them.” (D&C 132:20)
  • The celestial glory is further divided into three or more levels:“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]” (D&C 131:1-2)
  • The new and everlasting covenant of marriage is described in the next section of LDS scripture, D&C section 132, which is about the sealing of marriage partners for time and for all eternity.It contains the revelation to Joseph Smith about polygamy. As described in the previous section, without this marriage covenant, there is no entering exaltation and, “they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.” (D&C 132:17)
  • The prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 346, Deseret Book, 2006.See also, the first edition of the official History of the Church, vol. VI, ch. XIII, pp. 300-307, published by Deseret News, 1912.)

Written by David, MormonThink Editor