Romney’s Problem

I’ve had numerous discussions of the Mormon faith with a close friend who is Mormon, and here is a fascinating online discussion going on right now you may want to check out.

Frankly, I don’t see how Christian leaders can endorse a Mormon if their sole qualifications are “values” and “faith.” 

Revelations 22:18  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 

The Mormons have added an entire book that postulates that God has a physical form, and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are separate entities from God. How non-Mormon Christians can reconcile that with their beliefs is beyond me.

And that will be Romney’s problem.

UPDATE:  I just had to put this in after noticing it on the HuffingtonPost:

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who recently urged that radio host Don Imus be fired for making a racially insensitive remark, said in a debate that “those of us who believe in God” will defeat Republican Mitt Romney for the White House. But Sharpton denied he was questioning the Mormon’s own belief in God.

Rather, the New York Democrat said he was contrasting himself with Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author he was debating at the time.

Money Quote (emphasis mine):

Romney himself said Monday during an appearance on Fox News program “Hannity and Colmes”: “I think there are differences between different faiths in this country. And there will be battles between different religions. … That’s a great thing about this country. We don’t decide who’s going to be in office based on what church they go to.”

So he hopes.  And so I hope, actually, but after the last presidential elections . . .

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15 thoughts on “Romney’s Problem

  1. Um…..actually Jamie, sola scriptura, or “by Scripture alone”, is one of the beliefs that got my ancestors thrown OUT of Catholicism.

    The Roman (and to a lesser extent, the Orthodox) churches have always held that tradition, the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, and current pronouncements (such as the Pope’s) should be held as equal to Scripture. Some of the most commonly-known Roman dogmas, such as the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary, are based, not on Scripture, but on these.

    Mormons are a lot like Catholics, in my mind; while they have many doctrines that can best be described as “interesting”, very few people actually know about them, and even fewer of those follow them.

  2. Uh, NDT, the immaculate conception isn’t based on Scripture? What do you consider these? Of course, since what we call Scripture was written hundreds of years after Christ . . .

    Most antiadoptionist views of Christ were abandoned by the 3rd century.

    And the admonitions in revelation don’t leave a lot of room for parsing as I read them.

    I just find it hilarious how so many people who take selected passages of the Bible as literal to condemn homosexuals can abandon others at their own whim.

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t know about the rest of the country, but the majority of French-Canadian Catholics around here are pretty fierce about sticking to church dogma. FYI.

  3. I was raised Catholic–severely at times–and I can tell you that I have never before heard of such a thing.

    10 years of Catechism (Sunday School on Tuesdays–go figure)
    4 years of reading from Scripture during Mass
    1 Year of Catholic Private School (yeah, I got outta there quick)
    plus a lifetime of Catholic family

    And I tell you honestly that the idea of Mary being born without sin was never a point anyone bothered to clear up. She’s just assumed to have been without sin and that’s why God picked her.

    Now there would be an interesting survey; I wonder just how many other Catholics would know that particular doctrine? I’m betting not many. I’ve always referred to Jesus’ own conception as the “immaculate conception”. Virgin Birth=Immaculate Conception. And I’m fairly well-versed in Catholic Dogma.

    Perhaps it’s a regional thing. I know that Catholic masses throughout the USA are celebrated differently depending on geographic location. Maybe this is another difference.

  4. Jamie, my religious background isn’t nearly as extensive. Quickie background, baptized Roman Catholic. After a priest scolded my mother re: birth control, joined a Byzantine Melkite Catholic Church (I’m 1/4 ethnic Melkite Syrian), but stopped going after three years. Haven’t gone to church regularly since then. Currently, go to RC mass about 2-3 times a year, usually at my place of employment. So, my comments follow, for what they’re worth.

    Anyway, it was my initial understanding that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was for Jesus’ conception, even though it was 17 days before his birth. But other Catholics told me that it really was for Mary’s conception. Wasn’t Mary’s mother older, “barren,” and rather surprised when she became pregnant? In any case, it does seem important to Catholic dogma that Mary was untouched by “original sin.” I recall some, usually Protestants, saying that Jesus had full (younger) siblings. It wouldn’t bother me if that was the case, and I don’t quite understand why it is important for some to aspire celibacy for others even when they are married (Mary eventually married Joseph, right?). One of my favorite quotes by a devout Catholic was, “If Mary didn’t die a virgin, I’ll shoot myself.” So it seems this point is pretty important.

    Anyway, I’ll see what I can find out during lunch at work today.

  5. Wasn’t Mary’s mother older, “barren,” and rather surprised when she became pregnant?

    That was Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.

    The canonical gospels don’t talk about Mary’s mother, Saint Anne; the only place that does is the non-canonical Gospel of James, in which the story of Mary’s annunciation, conception, and birth looks a lot like Jesus’s, complete with angel.

    And you’re sort of right, Pat; Catholic tradition depends a lot on the sinlessness and purity of Mary. Interestingly enough, Catholic theology technically does not; the papal decree I cited above makes it clear that this was not anything magical or special about Mary, but was simply a gift God gave her for bearing Jesus well in advance of it actually happening.

    What bothers Protestants like myself is less the idea of Mary’s sinlessness being a gift freely granted her by God — which is kind of six of one, half a dozen of the other, because God made all those who believe in Him sinless in His eyes through Jesus — than the fact that Mary’s sinlessness and purity has become a reason for what we consider to be worship of her. We believe that Mary is indeed blessed — after all, the angel of God said so — but that the best example to be taken from her life is that she didn’t venerate herself, but put the emphasis on God. To us, what the Catholic Church has done with her looks like inserting a middlewoman between us and Jesus — and using it as an opportunity to peddle merchandise.

  6. Oh, and just to keep the holidays straight, Pat, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception does indeed refer to Mary. The analogue for Jesus is the Feast of the Annuciation. Similarly confused are the Feast of the Assumption, which is for Mary, versus the Feast of the Ascension, which is for Jesus.

    And before y’all ask how a Lutheran knows all of this…as one of my theology professors cheekily put it, it behooves us to study and understand the behavior of those who used to burn us at the stake. 🙂

  7. Okay, here’s some info I found out about the Immaculate Conception controversy. At lunch today I asked two sisters about this. I first started off saying that I originally thought that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) referred to Jesus. Before I even finished, they knew where I was going and were shaking their heads “no.” They said it refers to Mary’s conception, and we also talked about how it became doctrine (papal infallibility) equal to Scriptures in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day of obligation for U.S. Catholics. The sisters also said that the conception of Jesus is March 25 and called the Annunciation. But it is not a holy day of obligation. Mary’s birth is on Sept. 8, but is not a holy day. Her “Assumption” into heaven is though. One sister also pointed out that it was probably more than a coincidence that Christmas was chosen on December 25, and the conception was March 25, when those days were apparently recognized as the winter solstice and vernal equinox, respectively, millenia ago.

    As to the post, not much to say. What Sharpton said didn’t sound good, but his explanation was valid to me, and could actually be true. I’ve never been a fan of Sharpton though, and frankly not sure what to believe.

    As for Romney’s quote at the end, I believe what he said should be true, but it isn’t. I definitely have issues with Romney’s flip-flops, and I even have some concerns about the Mormon religion. But I do think the fact that he is Mormon will hinder him. I hope I’m wrong about that aspect.

  8. The Mormons would have a problem with that passage from Revelation if it was referring to anything but the “book” of Revelation. The author, St. John in exile on Patmos, was certainly not referring to the bible as we understand it; a collection of writings. The bible did not take it’s current form until Hippo in 393 then Carthage in 397. (The Protestants latter removed some of the books, because they knew better than the Church Fathers.)

    The Immaculate Conception is Mary’s conception as a pure vessel preordained to carry the pure Christ. She was born without the stain of original sin and contrary to what NDT thinks it is scripturally based:

    When discussing the Immaculate Conception, an implicit reference may be found in the angel’s greeting to Mary. The angel Gabriel said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). The phrase “full of grace” is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary.

    The traditional translation, “full of grace,” is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of “highly favored daughter.” Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies more than that (and it never mentions the word for “daughter”). The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind. Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning “to fill or endow with grace.” Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present. So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit. In fact, Catholics hold, it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence.

    And NDT,

    1) Catholics have not cornered the market on burning people at the stake, just so we’re clear.

    2) There is a difference between veneration and worship. Any Catholic who worships Mary is committing a grave sin. Veneration of her and seeking her intercession are not worship. Just because the followers of the religion of the manic depressive, scrupulous, over-wrought Martin Luther (the man who wanted the book of James tossed out because it contradicted his theology) can’t get this, does not make it wrong.

  9. But unfortunately, Patrick, if it requires one to be sinless to give birth to someone who is sinless, then Saint Anne must have had to be sinless as well; if Saint Anne was sinless, then Emerentia, her mother, must have had to be sinless, and so forth — unless, of course, one can say that one does not have to be sinless to, with divine intervention, give birth to a sinless child.

    Problem is, that undercuts the argument that Mary had to be sinless to give birth to the sinless Jesus — which then leads to the question of why Mary’s sinlessness is so important.

    In a Lutheran’s viewpoint, the business around Mary is simply a different aspect of what we see in the Catholic Church as an underlying theology that mankind cannot approach God directly, but must go through the approved temporal channels — an idea which we trace back to the Church’s reactions against heresies, in which it was somewhat justified, and in attempting to expand and develop its political and social power, in which it was not.

    Since we believe that, thanks to Jesus’s death and resurrection, we have been reconciled to God, there’s no need for Mary, Saint Anne, or indeed Saint Anyone to act as our intercessor; therefore, there’s no need to ask for their intercession or to venerate them. We figure that, if Jesus had wanted us to ask His mother to play divine lobbyist for our requests, He would have started the Lord’s Prayer with “Jesus’s Mother” rather than “Our Father”.

    Just because the followers of the religion of the manic depressive, scrupulous, over-wrought Martin Luther (the man who wanted the book of James tossed out because it contradicted his theology) can’t get this, does not make it wrong.

    One, the problem with diagnosing Martin Luther as manic depressive is the sheer volume of his output and activity throughout his life — difficult to do when, as most manic depressives are, you are incapacitated and virtually unable to focus for a great majority of your life.

    Two, even though Luther famously described the book of James as “an epistle of straw”, he did not remove it from any of his translations or demand that it be thrown out of the canon. He simply pointed out, relative to the Book of James’s emphasis on works-righteousness, as follows: “Faith is a living, breathing thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works, but if there are no works, there is something amiss with faith.”

    Meanwhile, Patrick, Martin Luther being attacked by Catholics is hardly new; what is interesting is how they’ve ping-ponged back and forth and contradicted each other on a regular basis about it.

    And, given Luther’s papal contemporaries (Innocent VIII, Alexander VI, Julius II, Leo X, Adrian VI, Clement VII, and Paul III), do you really want to play the “Your church’s leader was a psycho” game?

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