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Correspondence with a Mormon

In the "alt.religion.mormon" and some of the "christnet" Newsgroups there has been a very long running thread titled, "Are Mormons Christians?" Having gotten very tired of seeing this thread, I posted a short message saying that the thread was getting silly. Whether a Mormon is a Christian or not depends on how one defines the word "Christian." Moreover, I suggested it would be more fruitful to discuss whether Mormon doctrine was true or Biblical.

I also posted a short message in another thread when someone claimed that ALL Biblical scholars did not believe the Bible was historical accurate. I replied simply that maybe all LIBERAL scholars did not, but that there were plenty of CONSERVATIVE Biblical scholars who believed in the reliability of Bible. As an example, I mentioned a professor I had at Denver Seminary, Dr. Craig Blomberg, and his book The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.

A Mormon responded to these posts via e-mail after checking this Web site out (I always include a link to this site in the "signature" at the bottom of my Newsgroups posts). We then corresponded back and forth several times. The Mormon’s comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

>Hi, I just wanted to say hello to someone who went to Denver Seminary, as you mentioned in a recent post to a Newsgroups, and mentioned Dr. Blomberg as one scholar who felt the Bible was reliable. I recently read the book How Wide the Divide?" that Dr. Blomberg co-authored with Dr. Stephen Robinson. I have found it very informative and have had the privilege of corresponding by e-mail with Dr. Blomberg a few times. Just today I started reading his book The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.

I also appreciated your remarks in another post about the seeming eternal thread "Are Mormons Christian?" I loved your suggested to actually start discussing official Mormon doctrine instead. It would clear up a lot, of course I'm not sure how many anti-cultists will believe that we (I'm LDS) really believe what we say we do.<

Thank you for your letter. I hope you find Blomberg's book helpful. Also, I'm glad someone agreed with my point on the Mormon post. As for what the Mormon church teaches, this needs to be documented using official and authoritative writing of the LDS church.

>No arguments with the above, Gary. You will find a lot of it in the Blomberg and Robinson book in a summarized form. I'm sure many agreed with your point, but didn't take the time to respond. Unfortunately many folks are caught up in a spirit of contention. I don't see how much, if any, good can come from that.

People need to stop thinking that people with different beliefs than their are demons, rather than just people who need to find the truth. Even if we can't agree on doctrine, at least we can really find out what each other really believes not just what some extremists on each side say.

Unfortunately many do not really know the doctrine of their faith very well, so it makes it easy to get the wrong impression. I heard a doozy in a Sunday school class the other day. People get all kinds of ideas. I think too many people skip reading and studying the scriptures and just read popular books for members of their faith. The LDS church leaders stress studying the scriptures constantly, but the members don't respond as well as they could to this advice.

Oh well, nothing and no one is perfect. :)

Good chatting with you.

P.S. I love C.S. Lewis too. Some of our Apostles quote him all the time in their sermons.<

Thank you for your last letter. Just a couple of quick comments.

Very true "many do not really know the doctrine of their faith very well." I've asked several Catholics what the Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception is; all but one wrongly replied that it refers to the virgin birth of Christ. Only my father knew that it refers to Catholic belief that MARY was conceived without sin. And I'm sure the same could be said for many other doctrines in the Catholic Church as well as in many Protestant churches. But that is why a part of my ministry is to EXPLAIN the Christian faith.

The same could be said for some Protestants too about being told to "study the scriptures constantly" but not following the advice. But I think we'd disagree on what "the scriptures" are - but that would be another discussion entirely!

As for C.S. Lewis [a reference to my Internet handle Reepicheep], I had another Mormon say the same to me recently; I will just say as I said to him, Lewis' statements need to be interpreted in light of the fact that he was a member of the Church of England, and not a Mormon.

>Very true "we'd disagree on what ‘the scriptures’ are" - but at least we both trust in the Bible as scripture.

No doubt about Lewis. Until recently I had only seen short excerpts of his writings, then I obtained a copy of Mere Christianity. A lot of it seemed quite orthodox, from an LDS perspective, but I had trouble with his comments about the historic, orthodox view of the Trinity. I know that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon declare God to be a Trinity, but the LDS concepts is of course different.

I've tried to look over your DTL site, but haven't been able to open up a lot of it. Probably just a busy time. Are you an Evangelical of the Calvinist persuasion?<

My ISP seems to having some problems lately. But you should have been able to access my pages. I'll contact them and see if there is any problem. Also, I think I was sending in some updates to my site about the time you sent your e-mail. So that may have had something to do with your problem of accessing some of the pages.

Interesting statement, "both the Bible and the Book of Mormon declare God to be a Trinity." I say this as recently I corresponded with another Mormon who emphatically said neither the Bible nor the Book of Mormon teach God is a Trinity. Instead, he claimed both are consistent with Joseph Smith's tritheism [see JS vs. BoM - Reply to Response]. But again, that would be another subject entirely.

I’m basically Calvinist, but with Baptist leanings.

>As I recall Dr. Blomberg said he was a Baptist Minister. To tell you the truth I don't have a clue what you mean by "with Baptist leanings". Would you briefly explain?<

Some Baptist distinctives are:
1. Believer's baptism (most Calvinists believe in infant baptism)
2. Separation of church and state (some Calvinists, namely reconstructionists, believe in Christian theocracy)
3. Congregational church government (many Calvinists believe in Presbyterian i.e. elder rule church government)
4. "Free" worship styles (many Calvinists churches are more liturgical than I would like)
5. Pastors wearing suits or other "normal" clothing (many Calvinist church preachers wear robes of some sort)

>Was hoping you could help me understand something I read in Dr. Blomberg's book, How Wide the Divide? On page 185 he wrote: "Only if, in reality, God in Christ were not what Trinitarian orthodoxy has historically claimed would God be unable to save those who come to him."

My question: Why does Dr. Blomberg and I assume most of Christianity feel this way? Why do they feel that only the type of God believed in by "Trinitarian orthodoxy" is capable of saving us?

This is a sincere question. I'm not interested in arguing with you or proselytizing you. I just want to try to understand this.<

I address this subject in the following articles on my Web site:
Forgiveness, Salvation, and the Trinity
"Born of the Virgin Mary"

>Thank you for answering my question about "Baptist leanings" and about the Trinity. I have looked at some of the articles on your web site, but not those. W.B.<

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The above e-mail exchange was posted on this Web site in August 1997.

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