Wed, May. 30, 2012 Posted: 04:16 PM
Are Mormons Christians, in the context of being "saved" as defined by the Evangelical Church? You know, "real" Christians...like "born again" Christians, "saved" from the eternal weenie roast in the bowels of hell?
Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, says some Mormons are Christians on his radio program, "Pastor's Perspective" (see link and transcript below).
Full disclosure: I live in Idaho, I'm surrounded by Mormons. I have many Mormon friends and have had lengthy discussions with several about their Belief System, Theology, Doctrine etc. I am all Mormoned up on not only the basics, but also much of the nuance of Mormonism. Ironically, much of their Eschatology sounds a lot like many of my Pre-Trib Rapture Dispie friends...but I digress.
For the first time in U.S. history, we have a bonified Mormon with a very legitimate shot at being the President of the United States. We have an Evangelical Community that is quickly embracing Mormons as much closer to the Tent of Evangelicalism than ever before in our history. We have Glenn Beck, a Mormon, super popular among a large swath of Fundamentalist Bible Thumpers.
The Strict Sola Scriptura "you are saved by your correct doctrine" Fundie in me cringes...yet the more open-minded liberal "spiritual" side of me is open to the possiblity that many Mormons are in fact just as "saved" as any Evangelical and that there is common ground in the person and Messiah who is Jesus Christ.
Where is the line? Evangelicalism has 30,000+ denominations with all sorts of nuance and differences. Many pew-sitters have very little clue about the Apostle's Creeds or what is considered a "correct" orthodox Christian theology or set of doctrinal positions. Heck, what does "correct" even mean? Ask a Lutheran, a Calvary Chapel guy, a Weslyan Methodist, a Fundie Southern Baptist, a Johnny Mac Reformed Dispie, a hard-core 50 point Calvinist, a rolling in the aisles Charismatic and an incense burning contemplative Chuck Smith Jr. / Len Sweet-ite what "correct" is...and you'll get a PILE of different answers. Are we "saved" by "correct" doctrine? Or are we "saved" by Faith in Jesus Christ? Tricky answer...and many would argue that to have the "correct" Jesus, one must have "correct" doctrine. A rather impossible task, as much of "correctness" is not a disagreement with Scripture, but a disagreement in a Group of man's specific interpretation of Scripture (which isn't necessarily Scripture, it's an interpretation).
The question has grown larger in recent months and as I survey the Evangelical Landscape, I see that my favorite Evangelical Guru has weighed in on this question...are Mormons "real" Christians?
While I am often critical of Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel for ignoring abuses and tolerating corruption in their non-denomination denomination, as a Calvary Chapel PK (pastor's kid) and one who has spent more time in a CC than any other denom in my life on this physical rock, I am still very interested to see where he and Calvary Chapel weigh in.
I have argued in the past that I have Mormon friends who I believe are Christian. This shocks some of my Evangelical friends...and many in Calvary Chapel.
So what does Papa Chuck say about the issue?
K-WAVE Pastor’s Perspective Radio Program Transcript – November 9, 2011:
Recorded live at Calvary Chapel Pacific Coast
Begin at minute 36:07
Don Stewart: Alright this is gonna be a fun one here, to Cheyenne Wyoming, we have Alexa on the line. Hi Alexa welcome to the program. Hello there, ya there with us Alexa?
Don Stewart: Hi you’re on the air, go ahead sweetie.
Alexa: My aunt Valerie doesn’t really know the book of Mormon, so will she still go to hell?
Don Stewart: Ok good question. Ok, Alexa’s got an aunt, Chuck, who is a Mormon and wants to know if uh the Mormon will go to heaven.
Chuck Smith: It all depends on their relationship with Jesus Christ, and there are a lot of good Mormons who do believe in Jesus and I believe they’ll be in heaven, uh but uh you know we can’t do it on our own righteousness or our own works, we have to depend on Jesus for our entrance into heaven.”
What say you? Are Mormon churches full of "real" Christians? Is it possible that many are Evangelical "saved"? Is Chuck Smith smoking crack?
Personally, I hope Chuck is right...and I think he is.