Recently former president Jimmy Carter was quoted as saying that Mormons should be considered Christians and that we should not label them as a cult. [This column is written with the assumption that he was accurately quoted by the media.] That's quite a mouth full for the first president of this century to make being born-again an issue in politics who is a highly visible member of a Baptist church. The shock is that such a renowned Baptist would go on public record with such an un-Baptist statement.
This is just another example of the mindless pursuit of the feel-good religion of the late twentieth century in America. American religion is rapidly bowing down to the idol of inoffensive religious pluralism at the risk of untold numbers of people going into eternal Hell because they foolishly believed that God would overlook their self-serving willingness to allow prominent politicians, religious leaders, and television personalities to decree for them what God will and will not do.
I was taken to task recently for being a "Bible-only fundamentalist" because I do not believe that we ought to go down that road. This caricature of me (nowhere have I claimed to be a Bible-only fundamentalist) is a straw-man that makes it easy for folks to ridicule, but I am still glad that someone has taken time recently to highlight my columns in this arena of public debate. This proves that there is at least someone who is not one of the mindless who would rather get along than get to the truth of a matter. I only wish there were more of this kind of person in this crazy world that seems only too willing to take anything that is said by politicians, rabbis, priests, preachers, gurus, and television personalities as Gospel truth.
Speaking of Gospel truth, where in the world can we find that? The Roman Catholic Church claims it has it because it has a sitting apostle and a history that goes back to Jesus Christ. The Orthodox Church claims it has it because it has a more legitimate sitting apostle and history that goes back to Jesus Christ. These two competitors for our loyalty to their dogma have each excommunicated the other. I've even heard at least one Baptist say that they have it because they can trace their church all the way back to John the Baptist. The Mormons claim they have it because they have a second testament of Jesus Christ and a sitting apostle. The Jehovah's Witnesses say they have it because God's true name is Jehovah (they say) and they alone have recovered the real truth.
God is going to bring us to judgment. It will be interesting on that Day of Judgment to hear the answers to God's question: Did you believe in My Gospel concerning My Son? Some Catholics will say, "Yes, for I believed in the inerrant traditional interpretations of your Gospel as they were handed down to me by my local seminary-trained priest, who represented Your only authentic Church." Some of the Orthodox will say "Yes, for I believed in the deified Orthodox Church that, as the Body of Your Son, told me I would be accepted by You if I was baptized as an infant and was a faithful pursuer of the faith as defined by the Orthodox Church." Some Baptists will say "Of course, I'm a Baptist. We've always believed in the Gospel defined by the Baptist tradition." Some of the Mormons, wanting to hedge their bets, will say, "Which Gospel? The one in the New Testament of the Bible, or the one in the Book of Mormon?" Some of the Jehovah's Witnesses will say, "Of course; we got Your Name right didn't we?"
Now I don't pretend to know the particulars of what God will say in response to those responses, but I know what He will say if He thinks like me. If He thinks like me, He will say, "Why didn't you let Me speak to you by My Word? Why did you try to hide from Me by sneaking off and putting on all those fig-leaf traditions? Why did you think correct interpretations were hard for Me to lead you into, but you didn't think it was hard for your church? Was your church more powerful than I am? Didn't you have a Bible? Couldn't you read? Didn't you want to know Me enough to trust Me that if you read My Word I would lead you into the truth?"