[The following is written as a guest post by an Evangelical Pastor of an 800 member congregation in Bucks County Pennsylvania. It oozes logic and love.]
In his book: Talking with Mormons: An invitation to Evangelicals, Dr. Richard Mouw shares a story from his childhood. A traveling evangelist speaking at his church talked about a present-day scholar who had studied Lincoln’s presidency. He knew all kinds of facts about the late president. Then the evangelist talked about a little girl who lived next door to President Lincoln. He would sometimes stop and talk to her and give her a brief hug. She knew little in the way of facts about the president but she knew his warm embrace. The preacher would pause and ask the congregation: Who knew Lincoln better? The scholar who had all the facts but never met Lincoln personally? Or the little girl who couldn’t say much about the facts of Lincoln’s leadership but knew his loving embrace?
While I love learning about the Christian religion and its theology and have earned a Master’s degree in divinity, the central focus of my faith is the love of my Savior who offers me his warm embrace. Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS President from 1995 to 2008, stated that Jesus “is the central focus of our worship…He is our King, our Lord…He loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” That is a statement any evangelical would add a hearty “amen” to!
My friend, Greg Trimble, has asked me to answer a simple question – Are Mormons Christians? Are they saved?
In the midst of a time of confusion in the early church regarding the essentials of salvation the Apostle Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
If you love Jesus Christ as Lord, recognize that he died on the cross for you, believe he physically rose from the grave…then you are saved according to Paul. I know my friend Greg has embraced this truth and many others of his church. Are all Mormons saved? Of course not! Neither are all Baptists, Presbyterians or those who worship at non-denomination churches. The “saved” are only those who truly know, trust and love the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible warns us that in the latter days there will be many who “have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5). Obviously just being in a church does not make one a Christian any more than being a mouse in a cookie jar makes the mouse a cookie!
Evangelicals are a diverse and complex group. We certainly are not the monolith some make us out to be. Our relationship with the Latter-day Saints has been a difficult one. Many of us do not accept Mormons as genuine Christians and Mormons see us as flawed and seek to bring us into the true church of the restoration. It should be noted that neither group accepts the baptism of the other. We have a long way to go! I cannot claim to speak for all evangelicals. I know I do not. But I speak for some, and I certainly speak from my own heart. God has given me a genuine love for Mormons and a desire to build relationships with them. There are many things we do not see eye to eye on and there are aspects of Mormonism I strongly disagree with. At the same time…we share so many things in common. I know I have brothers and sisters within the LDS church because I’ve met some. For me personally it does not matter what your church address is. What matters is who you know.
Every year Macintosh sponsors a computer convention called MacWorld. Thousands of dealers and distributors and software developers attend this event. One year the late Steve Jobs (one of the founders) was scheduled to speak. In order to get into the convention you had to have a convention badge. Steve left his at the hotel that day and didn’t realize it until he got to the convention center. “No problem,” he thought. “After all, I’m Steve Jobs.” Unfortunately, the security guard at the door didn’t recognize him and refused to let him in without a badge. One of Jobs’ assistants offered to let him use his badge. When the security guard heard this, he threatened to have them both arrested. After a flurry of frantic calls on their cell phones, the Mac people were finally able to locate the security guard’s boss, who came to the main entrance. Steve Jobs knew this man, and he was finally let in to speak at his own convention.
It didn’t matter that he was founder of the company, if Steve Jobs had not known the security guard’s boss, he never would have gotten in the door. It doesn’t matter who you are, it only matters who you know. Knowing Jesus makes available to us God’s never ending supply of acceptance, mercy and forgiveness. That is good news for all of us!