The recent “Mormon bashings” on my Facebook page—or what one person called “drive-by postings”—probably deserve a more lengthy commentary. I have written long pieces in the past (books, blogs, etc), but currently the platform of social media seems to have me providing more Krystal bite-sized nuggets. Yet once in a while, more content is appropriate.
A number of you have dialogued and argued with me on these Mormon exposes, for various reasons. I love all of you. (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend” “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” [Pr. 27:6,24:26]). Each of you is willing to provide your thoughts in writing to dialogue toward the truth. Conversely, many people simply hate and say nothing. (Pr. 10:18)
Since Relativism and Tolerance are key gods of our age, let me start with that issue: Many are simply offended that I would be “mean” to anyone, regardless of the situation. That doesn’t seem like Jesus. I agree, in general. But both Jesus and the Apostles could get very nasty when dealing with critical matters where supposed religious leaders are deceiving the good-hearted folks, being “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” what later is called the promotion of “heresy.” There are various forms of heresy, but the nature of Christ and doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation, the starting point, the center of all Christian belief, and when that gets tampered with, Jesus and the Apostles get pretty “mean.”
Jesus told the Pharisees, “You belong to your Father, the devil . . . the father of lies” (Jn 8:44). In Revelation, Christ calls the gatherings led by these same leaders a “synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 3:9). Not very nice words.
Paul pleads with sinners to repent. He exhorts the Jewish people themselves to follow Christ. He says problems of the flesh (adultery, homosexuality, drunkenness, etc) are obvious failures and offers forgiveness to those who practice them (like the Corinthian guy sleeping with his Mother-in-law). But he doesn’t condemn them with the kind of fiery words of damnation that he reserves for promoters of heresy. He calls these types, among other things, “warped and sinful … self condemned.” (Titus 3:11)
So, there is obviously “a time for everything,” including a time to be “mean” like a mother would be mean toward a predator trying to eat her babies. I don’t think everyone will be able to get past this point since Relativism is so dang prevalent in our culture. (One person already unfriended me over this issue—I have no idea who she was, so I’ll probably get over it.) But I hope most of you can get over the “meanness” thing. Because it’s not the issue.
Oh, one other point here. False teachers screwing up people’s understanding of Jesus being God himself (like Mormons) can make the nicest people in the world become “mean.” In the 4th century, a bishop named Arius was promoting the view of Jesus now propagated by Mormons. St. Nicholas was one of the bishops at the council of Nicaea which attempted to sort through the false teaching of Arianism (not Aryanism, a racial word). St. Nick is Santa Clause (repeat St Nicholas and emphasize the first and last syllable and you’ll get it.) Church tradition tells us Santa Clause was so infuriated by the heresy spouted by Arius that he got up, walked over, and punched him in the face! He went to jail for it. When it comes to Arianism, its nice guys gone wild.
Why emphasize the heresy of Mormonism right before a pro-life, pro-family candidate like Romney might possibly defeat the very liberal Obama? I have answered this question a number of times in the threads but will repeat it briefly here.
Firstly, I care more about upholding, preserving, and championing the divine nature of the Lord Jesus Christ than I do about politics.
Secondly, if Mitt Romney were a proven, longstanding prolife advocate like, say, Rick Santorum, that would make some difference. He’s not.
Thirdly, if I thought the country was on the precipice of overturning Roe v. Wade, I would be more interested in Romney. It’s not. The U.S. made its decision in the early 90’s to abandon any relationship between God’s law and civil law. On the most extreme issue of whether it should be legal to chop up a baby in the womb (even to the 9th month), our leaders silently approved, despite the fact that thousands of Christians were arrested blocking abortion clinics. Around that same time, both houses of congress and all 50 state houses openly discussed partial birth abortion, described it in detail, televised it on CSPAN, and the people and lawmakers decided to keep allowing it. Our country has made its decision, and I grieve the choice.
Fourthly, if I thought Romney was a less dangerous choice than Obama, that would also make a difference. I don’t. Seeing that lives won’t be saved by overturning abortion, it would be good to prevent the millions dying from our foreign wars. These conflicts are not about Democracy (when do we invade the Saudis?) but about oil and the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, the efforts of desperate Western billionaire bankers to stay on top. Obama seems to reluctantly agree to the schemes of the secular, godless Neo-conservatives, despite the Nobel folks trying to egg him the other way. Conversely, Romney promises to boldly champion the evil machinations of the military industrial complex, the great monster we now face that Eisenhower tried to warn us against in 1960. This monster involves untold corruption. Assassinations, drug dealing (Russia begged the US to shut down the Afghan opium trade, but we refused), 16 intelligence agencies promoting lies upon lies, conducting regular torture, and other abominations too manifold to detail here. For most people, it goes under the category of: “You can’t handle the truth.” Suffice it to say, Ike was right.
The institution of government in America is not Christian and does not look to become so. This crushing blow has let me to another institution that I will discuss in a moment.
Because of my long, slow march toward despair of godly government in America, I have switched my strategy to help “strengthen what remains,” as Christ says to the church of Sardis (Rev. 3:2).
What does remain? There are millions, maybe even a 100 million or more good-hearted, faithful followers of the true Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God himself in the flesh, one of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Maybe less than millions. Who knows? But they are out there in vast numbers. Now, the Evil One may be attempting to snatch even that away from us. Robbing America of its moral and Christian foundations was not enough. Now it is time to deceive millions of Christians regarding the foundational belief of the Trinity.
You may say Romney is not heading up the church, he is heading up government. I understand. But where are the voices condemning the evils of Mormon heresy? Liberal Christians don’t care. Conservative religious leaders are in a silent political alliance. The Billy Graham organization has just removed Mormonism from their list of cults. For them, politics has become more important than championing the historic Christian foundation stone of the Holy Trinity.
Many ancient Christians were tortured and killed over the Arian heresy of the Mormons. My wife is reading a three-volume history of Byzantium, the empire that started about the time of the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Today people think Constantine legalized Christianity and believers coasted from there, leading to institutional corruption. In fact, just as soon as Arianism was condemned as a heresy, Constantine’s son took over and killed Trinitarian Christians en masse in the name of Arianism. This persecution continued off and on for centuries. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Trinitarians have been tortured and killed for this foundational belief.
We, however, are afraid to offend our “nice Mormon friends.” We, unlike those tortured, are more interested in electing a Mormon to office than speaking out against Arianism.
My father earned his doctorate in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, a great man. I grew up talking theology at the dinner table. Yet, until I became connected to the historic Christian church, I could not have told you that we worship “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: the Trinity one in essence and undivided.” I sing that every week now in the Divine Liturgy, as I have become Eastern Orthodox (more on that later). But growing up we talked about things like Calvinism, the rapture, the millennium, and modes of baptism. It’s not that we didn’t believe the Trinity. We just really didn’t talk about it much. We assumed it was, well, taken care of and obvious.
I say all that for those who think I am barking up a tree of paranoia. No, our evangelical Christian culture, though very well meaning, is really shallow and superficial when it comes to what we believe at a fundamental level. “Hey, if you love Jesus, it’s all good.” Arians say they love Jesus, so it’s really, really, not all good. It’s scary. Our culture is ripe for an Elmer Gantry to step in and lead the sheep to danger and destruction. Our media dominates and is owned by secular, godless people who are at best indifferent, and at worst hostile to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our military is dominated by secular neo-cons.
Is Satan not the ally of those who deny the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Did Satan not inspire Lenin and the Bolsheviks only 100 years ago to slaughter 8,000 pastors and millions of Orthodox Christians to advance an atheistic empire? Why are we exempt from such dangers?
I am not equating Romney with Lenin. I think the dangers I just laid out are true regardless of who is President. But Romney would make it even more complicated, as the evils of Arian/Mormon heresy will be more veiled and hushed. With Obama, we know we have a guy who promotes same-sex marriages. We don’t confuse him with a nice, conservative follower of Jesus.
So, what to do? On a general level, we must defend Christianity. We must be outspoken and champion the fundamental belief of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, and the Trinity. We must be willing to pay the price for doing so.
My personal decision has been to join the ancient Orthodox Church. Orthodoxy is the second largest Christian group behind Catholicism. Our church is vibrant in all sorts of cultures across the globe. Of those Christians being persecuted and killed in Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, many, if not most, are Orthodox.
When dealing with these larger questions, the biggie of them all is this: who is in charge? Who makes the rules? Once this question is answered, it is easier to do the right thing. Just follow the leader. “Follow me, as I follow Christ,” said the Apostle Paul.
Let me provide a brief church history, terribly truncated by me and certainly from my perspective: Jesus laid his hands on the Apostles and actually began the institutional church (now a dirty phrase!) and “the gates of hell have not prevailed against it.” It continues today in the form of the Orthodox Church. In 1000 AD the Patriarch of Rome broke off from the rest of the Patriarchs because he wanted to change the Council of Nicaea. For a thousand years, the church had been “ruled” by hundreds of bishops coming together in a full council to decide the core truths of Christianity. No one man was in charge. They did this less then ten times in 1000 years. From these councils we crystallized the teaching of what books are Scripture, the Trinity, the divine and human natures of Christ, and other foundational Christian beliefs.
Rome’s break really screwed up Christianity. The other bishops said the councils cannot be changed, and they certainly did not believe one man should be in charge. 500 years after this “Great Schism,” as it is known, the Reformation rightly rebelled from various false teachings and practices committed by a Roman Catholic Church that had strayed from its authority—problems like indulgences, papal infallibility, and crusades. The Eastern Orthodox never committed these false practices.
Unfortunately, Martin Luther let the genie out of the bottle. If one man can break away from the church, he can decide for himself what is right. He can cause a church split. He can lead church in his own home. Hell, he can just have church with himself. Who can tell him different, for the Protestant belief is that he is in charge. Instead of one pope, we now have millions of them.
It is time to return to our forefathers, return to sanity, return to foundational Christian teachings. The Church fathers know better than we do. They know how important it is to sing each week, as has been done for nearly 2,000 years: “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: the Trinity one in essence and undivided.” They know how important it is to honor saints on the calendar day after day who lost eyes and limbs, who were boiled in hot oil, and who were ultimately killed for their commitment to the Trinity over Arianism. They understand that championing the Divine Essence of Jesus Christ is far more important than being cool or looking weird. (Funny robes, written prayers, and outdated music are not important issues.)
You can try fighting this battle on your own, but it is not recommended.
As I said at the beginning, I love all of you. I appreciate your vigorous responses. I am serious about this issue. Thank you for letting me discuss it in a lengthy fashion.