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Correspondences on Mormonism
The following e-mails are responding to the articles on Mormonism posted on this Web site. The e-mailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My responses are in red.
>Gary F. Zeolla: The site has, of course, one major problem in that it claims to be defending the Christian faith, yet turns upon one of its own branches, namely Mormonism. Kind of polemical cannibalism (is there a technical term for eating one's own children, say, teknosphagia, or something?) ...
Thank you for your letter. By your remarks I assume you are implying Mormonism is just another Christian denomination.
Posted on this Web site is Darkness to Light's Confession of Faith. It lists what I believe are the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Also posted is an article on Essentials of "the Faith." It discusses how I developed the Confession.
The official teachings of the Mormon church (as based on the writings of Mormon "prophets and apostles") are in direct disagreement with the majority of these doctrines. It is for this reason that I do not accept Mormonism as a true expression of the Christian faith.
Now I could be wrong and the Mormon church could be correct. But it simply cannot be true we are both correct. The disagreements are too diametrically opposed for both to be true. I discuss some of these disagreements in the article titled Mormonism vs. The Bible.
I hope the above, and the indicated articles, helps to explain the reason for my position.
> Hi Gary: Thanks for your calm and reasoned response. I have to admit I was twitting or teasing you a bit. I understand the differences, but my point is simply that one particular sect of Christianity (yours) has great difficulty, from a logical point of view, in trying to define all of Christianity with respect to just its own interpretations of Christianity and thereby say that any other sect (such as Mormonism in this case) is therefore wrong.
Put another way, if a and b are both elements of the set C, where a is your sect of Christianity and b is mine, then a does not necessarily equal C, it is only an element (a subset) of C, nor does b of course necessarily equal C.
I think, all logical games aside, one can certainly say that Mormonism departs from much of "traditional" Christianity, or more accurately, strict biblicist Christianity. I was merely trying, in a slightly sarcastic way, to make the point that one can't thereby exclude Mormonism from Christianity altogether.
Best regards, M.S.<
Thanks for your response. I will try to clarify using your type of equation.
Lets say "C" is true Christianity in regards to all doctrines and practices. C would then, obviously, include the core doctrines of the Christian faith. And, lets say, for any subset to be included under C it must include these core doctrines.
Thus "a" and "b" are included under C if they contain these core doctrines, even if a and b disagree with C on secondary subjects. If a or b are equal to C (i.e. they agree with C in all respects) would be a question for another time.
My "sect" is Baptist-Reformed. It includes the core doctrines so it is a subset of C. Mormonism, on the other hand, does not include the core doctrines so it cannot be a subset of C, regardless of its stance on secondary subjects.
>Hi Gary: Yes, a Mormon can be a Christian. Christianity doesn't come by works, however (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:6,7) .
What makes a person a Christian? Those that have been born the second time, in the Spirit. Obviously, the destiny of the flesh is death, it's the spirit that lives on for those who are in Christ Jesus; those born into the family of God.
Please note, I do not judge whether a particular person is a Christian (and by implication, "saved") or not. That is God's preoperative.
I do in my ministry, however, evaluate a particular group's teachings. And I make my position in regards to the Mormon church's teachings, and the reasons for it, very clear in the articles posted on my ministry's Web site. If you haven't read through these articles, may I kindly suggest that you do so.
>Gary, I read the info you have available. Found it very interesting and educational. It simply blows my mind the things some people believe (take into their heart) but will not believe the truth about Jesus The Christ. This is taken a little out of context but applies, I think, "Rom 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."
"Rom 16:24: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
you all. Amen."
> Mr. Zeolla,
First of all, let me say I appreciate that you are using the internet for a lot better purpose than a lot of other people are these days.<
> I was reading one of your other letters to the editor about Mormonism and how you can't accept it as Christianity. I can say this. Christianity is simply a belief that Jesus Christ as mentioned in the Bible is the Savior of the World for all those who are willing to accept that and follow the commandments from Heavenly Father.<
The key words in your statement are, "Jesus Christ as mentioned in the Bible." The question is, is the "Jesus" of Mormonism the Jesus of the Bible? Since the Bible talks about there being "another Jesus" (2Cor 11:4) this is a legitimate question. And I detail on my site, using quotes from official LDS literature, why I do not believe the Jesus of Mormonism is the Jesus of the Bible.
> I liked what you said that we both couldn't be correct because our beliefs are so different. With that said, one would assume that you believe that only one Church has the possibility of being the true Church.<
Don't make hasty assumptions. It depends on what you mean by "church." If you mean one specific organization then I would disagree with your statement. The "church" is simply all true Christians everywhere, regardless of what organization they belong to. The word "church" in Greek simply means "assembly" (as I am translating it in my Bible translation). It does not have the connotation of an organization.
> That is not to say that there is such a Church in existence today,<
Since the "Church" simply refers collectively to all believers, there is, there always has been, and will always be a church in existence (Matt 16:18).
> just that there can't be two correct paths to eternal salvation.<
True there are not two "paths" to salvation. The Jesus of the Bible is the only means of salvation. But your "just as" (which I assume you meant to write) is not warranted. Yes, there is only one church, the collection of all believers. But it can exist in many different organizations (Luke 9:49,50).
> With that said, one could also reasonably assume that any one who has any beliefs different than what you believe, regardless if they believed in Jesus or not, could not be considered Christians.<
It would depend on what points we differed. I believe there is only a very limited number of "essential" doctrines, as outlined in my ministry's confession of faith. It is around these that true Christians can unite. There can, however, be much difference of opinion on secondary matters. See my article on The Essentials of the Faith" for more in this regard.
> Now this is only what I take from a couple of letters you wrote. If in fact you are a true Christian, and I believe you are, then you have to accept that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a Christian Church.<
I don't see why I "have" to accept the LDS Church as Christian. As I detail in the articles on my site, the teachings of the LDS church conflict with those of historic Christianity, and more importantly the Bible, on many essential issues.
> By agreeing on that point does not mean that you endorse the Church. None of us here on this earth today, including the Prophet, understand everything there is to know about what is to come. And none of us will. Like you said in one of your responses, this Church may be true.<
My point was, both historic Christianity and the LDS church cannot both be true. I was simply pointing out the logical contradiction in saying that they were. And since I believe the teachings of historic Christianity are true, then logically, I must believe that the teachings of the LDS church are false.
> With that said, shouldn't you spend more time teaching others what you believe about the Bible instead of trying to save all of us Mormons from eternal damnation.<
Let see, out of the almost 500 pages on my Web site about a dozen or so deal with Mormonism. In fact, I don't think I've even posted anything new on Mormonism is quite some time. My main focus right now is own my Bible translation [the Analytical-Literal Translation].
Could it be you made the common mistake of mistaking one of my "subject" pages (in this case on Mormonism) for my entire site?
> We are a good people who as a whole try not to hurt anyone. We believe what we believe because of our faith.<
Being a good person and being "sincere" in ones faith is not going to save a person if that faith is misguided.
> In closing, I would like to reiterate that you are doing a good job spreading your message. I just hope you can see that there are many people out there that need to be saved from eternal Hell and damnation. The Mormons are not them. That is my opinion, of course.
Thanks for your time.
Yes, there are a lot of different kinds of people that need to be saved. That is why I address such a wide range of subjects on my site. As for the salvation of individual Mormons, I'll leave that decision up to God. But I do believe it is appropriate for me write about what I believe to be false teachings in the Mormon church, as well as in other religious groups.
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
The above e-mails were published in Darkness to Light
and posted on this Web site in October 1996. The final exchange was added later.
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