A recent Reuters dispatch portrayed evangelicals’ — primarily Southern Baptists’ — reservations about voting for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as part of a larger battle over the denomination’s loss of its members to Mormonism.
While there may be pockets of truth to that contention, the reality is that any genuine Christian ought to care less about keeping the membership numbers strong and care more about one Kingdom only: God’s. Reuters reporter Ed Stoddard ignored that point:
Romney will need the support of this traditional Republican base if he is to take on former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is running strongly in opinion polls despite his three marriages and a pro-abortion position that is anathema to many Republicans.
The reason Romney faces difficulties with Southern Baptists, according to many experts, is his Mormon faith. Not only do many Southern Baptists regard the Mormon church as a cult, they also regard it as a competitor that is winning — or poaching — converts from among the evangelical flock.
“There are now more Mormons that used to be Southern Baptist than any other denomination,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a 16-million strong group.
“As a consequence, Southern Baptists and other evangelicals have taught their people what Mormons believe and why it’s beyond the boundaries of the Christian faith, to inoculate them against those Mormon missionaries,” he told Reuters.
The entire context under which Land expressed his concern about Mormon influence is unknown, but if it was just for the purpose of keeping sheep in the Baptist pen, the intent is misguided. Any objection to a Romney presidency on the grounds that it would increase the potency of Mormon evangelism should be about souls, not rolls. In other words, if the goal is just to play a clubby “keep away” from the Latter-Day Saints, yet you agree politically with the former Massachusetts governor and believe he is the best candidate, then by all means vote for him.
Outside of eternal considerations, in fact, there are good reasons to support a principled Mormon, as Reuters notes:
Mormons and Southern Baptists take similar conservative stances on social issues and tend to vote Republican, so their cultural and political outlooks are not really in conflict.
“Some Southern Baptists will live near Mormon communities functioning at their best, where they will see in practice the kind of family-oriented, sober, diligent, and disciplined lives that Southern Baptists preach but do not always display,” said Mark Noll of the University of Notre Dame.
But clean, faithful living and friendly behavior isn’t the nexus for the Christians who have reservations about Romney, which most Mormons, Romney supporters and outside observers don’t seem to understand. Instead it’s about the Christians’ personal validation and legitimization of a religion they believe leads to the destruction of the soul.
It doesn’t really matter what you call the LDS church — cultish, aberrant, false, etc. — if you are already in the Christian fold. The point is, Mormonism wanders far from what Trinitarian Christians believe the Bible teaches about who Jesus is and how salvation is accomplished. There are clear and incontrovertible doctrinal differences that lie at the heart of how one reaches Heaven, regardless of how much their cultural and moral values are shared here on Earth.
The apostle Paul entreated followers to reject false teachings about the Savior in Galatians chapter 1:
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Whether the evangelical Christian believes his vote displeases God because it could expand opportunity for Mormons to grow their flock is a matter of conscience. That should only be held against them if their goal is to preserve their denomination’s numbers, but not if it’s to prevent people from following what they believe to be a false religion.
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