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Friday, June 15, 2007
Kessler, Land Downplay Evangelical Criticism of Mormonism
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler's fluffing of Mitt Romney continues in a June 13 NewsMax article in which he interviews Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. In it, Kessler gives space to Land to engage in liberal-bashing -- claiming that it's a myth that liberals are "sweet, loving, and tolerant" and that liberals are most likely to oppose having a Mormon as president because they look upon them as "people of faith on steroids": "Liberals do not tolerate people who disagree with them. And, of course, the one group they are least tolerant of is people who believe in moral absolutes."

In fact, polling indicates that conservatives object to Romney's Mormonism more than liberals.

Kessler also allows Land to downplay evangelical concerns about Mormonism -- even suggesting that Rudy Giuliani's "one too many" marriages are more objectionable than Romney's Mormonism -- and to join in Kessler's agenda of portraying Romney as a different kind of Mormon. "A significant percentage of Evangelicals have reservations about voting for a Mormon — reservations which I think Mitt Romney could successfully address," Kessler quote Land as saying, adding:

"I would look upon Catholicism as an erroneous understanding of the Christian faith; that's why I'm a Baptist, not a Catholic," Land says. "I would look upon Mormonism as another faith in the same sense that I would look upon Islam as another faith. I think the fairest and most charitable way to define Mormonism would be to call it the fourth Abrahamic religion — Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third, and Mormonism being the fourth. And Joseph Smith would play the same character in Mormonism that Muhammad plays in Islam."

Evangelicals who are "less charitable" call Mormonism a cult, Land notes.

Kessler and Land both fail to note that some of those "less charitable" people are his fellow Southern Baptist leaders. For instance, according to the Baptist Press (the news service of the SBC), a 2005 issue of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology calls Mormonism a "cult" and generally disparages the religion in contrast with Christianity. For instance, Journal editor Steven J. Wellum writes:

Regardless of the Mormon claims, it is difficult, nigh impossible, to maintain that Mormonism is just another version or subset of historic Christianity. Why? Because at point after point, if we compare and contrast Christian orthodoxy with Mormon theology, we have to conclude that Mormonism represents an entirely different theology, an alien worldview -- another gospel, which is no gospel at all.

In this regard, we need to heed the warning of Paul that even if an angel from heaven preaches a gospel other than the one proclaimed by the apostles, let him be eternally condemned (Gal. 1:8-9). That is why evangelicals historically view Mormons as those who need to hear and respond to the true gospel found in Scripture alone, and as standing outside a saving relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Also, the SBC's North American Mission Board's website contains a resource sheet on Mormonism listing under "Cults, Sects, and New Religious Movements." The resource sheet lists among its tips for converting Mormons:

  • Remember, Mormons use Christian vocabulary (gospel, atonement,  god) but radically redefine their meanings. Define clearly what you mean when you use biblical words. 
  • Warn the Mormon about trusting in feelings (i.e., the burning in the bosom) for a validation of Mormonism s truth claim.  Without historical, objective verification, feelings are  useless. 

And, since this is Kessler, he would be remiss if he didn't get a little Romney-fluffing out of Land:

"If you were doing a movie about a presidential race, and you sent over to Central Casting for a presidential candidate, they'd send back somebody who looks and talks a lot like Mitt Romney," Land says. "He's extremely telegenic, very personable. I mean this is a guy who would be considered a leader of men in any group that you would assemble." 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2007 1:47 AM EDT

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