A Missed Opportunity to Proclaim the Real Jesus

A prominent American prelate, with excellent theological credentials, was recently asked on a Sunday morning talk show “Are Mormons Christians?”  He demurred by saying, “I am not going to define someone else’s religion.”  This politically correct statement, though seemingly clever, was a missed opportunity to proclaim the truth of who Jesus really is.

Ever since Vatican II the focus of Church leadership has been more political than dogmatic.  Social issues, such as abortion, the death penalty, same sex marriage and even the Federal budget have taken precedence over the Church’s evangelization efforts.  However, as important as these moral concerns are they remain secondary to the teachings of the Nicene Creed (325 AD) since doctrine motivates everything the Church stands for.

The key to the Creed is the identification of Jesus as eternal and of one substance with the Father.  Bishops fought among themselves and with emperors; they endured persecution, exiles and even death for this definition.  The formulation of the Creed set the standard for orthodox Christianity.  Ever since, Church leaders have never shied away from denouncing as heretical any belief that deviated from the creedal formulary.  They realized that to allow error to exist regarding the person of Jesus would endanger the daily living of Christians.  They knew that correct belief and the right practice of the faith were inextricably linked.  After all, it does make a difference who Jesus is if we are going to live by his teachings.

Mormons do not adhere to the teaching of the Creed.  For them, God the Father is a human being, and God the Son is a being separate from Him.  The Holy Spirit is also a separate entity. In other words, the persons of the Trinity are not consubstantial. Mormons therefore, are polytheists and materialists.

Because of this, Mormon theology easily accommodates itself to Americans mores.  Theirs is not just another American religion – it is American Religion.  It glories in American exceptionalism, it is materialistic, it was founded on American utopian ideals, it bought wholeheartedly into the American Progressive Movement of the past century and even considers the United States Constitution as God-given.

This type of theology readily admits to American Pragmatism.  So, if Jesus is not the co-eternal Word of the Father, can His truth change?  The answer is yes!  Joseph Smith, the Mormon founder and first prophet made this clear when he added books to Sacred Scriptures and taught that he and his successors were viaducts of an ongoing revelation.  Thus, like all materiality the Mormon God is plastic.

The prelate mentioned above had effectively allowed heresy to go unchallenged.  How many Catholics and non-Catholics missed an opportunity for real catechesis? How many of them needed to hear the truth about Jesus to remain faithful to the Church’s moral teachings?

No doubt morality should be a high priority of the Church’s teaching agenda.  But, doctrine trumps all else because morality depends on it for validity.

I, therefore propose that the Church in the United States begin a mandatory series of Sunday sermons on The Nicene Creed.  I spoke on the elements of the Creed a number of years ago.   I received many “Thank You” comments and too many “Wows! – I didn’t know that.”

My contention is that if we teach the Creed the social issues will fall into place.  We may even garner converts.  On the other hand, if we don’t, American religion will continue to grow while the real Jesus will become more obscure in the mist of political correctness and Christian morality will be the possession of a persecuted remnant.

Fr. Michael P. Orsi

By

Chaplain and Research Fellow at Ave Maria Law. Father Michael P. Orsi was ordained for the Diocese of Camden in 1976 and has a broad background in teaching and educational administration. Fr. Orsi has authored or co-authored four books and over 300 articles in more than 45 journals, magazines and newspapers. He has served as Assistant Chancellor, Assistant Vicar for Pastoral Services, Director of Family Life Bureau, and Coordinator of Pope John Paul II’s visit to New Jersey for the Diocese of Camden. He has also served as a member of The Institute for Genomic Research at the University of Pennsylvania and as a member of New Jersey’s Advisory Council on AIDS. Fr. Orsi holds a Doctorate in Education from Fordham University, two Master degrees in Theology from Saint Charles Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts from Cathedral College. He is presently serving as Chaplain and Research Fellow in Law and Religion at Ave Maria School of Law, Naples, Florida. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. In 2005 Fr. Orsi was appointed as a Senior Research Associate to the Linacre Center for Bioethics, London, England. Fr. Orsi co-hosts a weekly radio program The Advocate which discusses law and culture on WDEO-AM 990, WMAX-AM 1440 in metro Detroit and WDEO-FM 98.5 in southwest Florida [also linked at www.avemarialaw.edu].

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  • http://servantofcharity.blogspot.com John

    I agree completely. Thank you. It is also important to consider how Catholics are targeted by Mormons as potential converts. A clear understanding and defense of the Creeds may help win Mormons to the Church instead of vice versa. Tom Smith, a former Mormon and current Catholic priest, and Isaiah Bennett, former Catholic priest and revert to the Faith after a brief stint in the LDS church, have produced wonderful resources for understanding Mormon teaching, history and theological errors.

    John
    servantofcharity.blogspot.com

  • http://ConvertJournal.com convertjournal

    No argument, Mormons are not Christians.

    HOWEVER(!), this public exchange might not have had its roots in religion at all. What would be the point, in the very liberal mainstream media, of exploring this topic? I seriously doubt that it had anything at all to do with understanding faith but everything to do with politics.

    The hoped for result may simply have been that (1) their candidate professes the Christian faith and (2) the opposition does not. Therefore, if you profess to be Christian, you should feel a closer tie to their candidate. (By “their candidate” I am of course referring to the media’s chosen presidential candidate, Barack Obama.)

    Such an effort is necessary to overcome the actual actions and positions of the candidates. The professed Christian one has extremely anti-Christian positions on life, family, and centralized government (abortion, “gay marriage”, subsidiarity). The non-Christian one has positions which are in concert with Christian morals.

    The person may have missed an opportunity to evangelize, but it is possible that he chose not to play the media’s game.

  • Victoria

    It is a shame that the prominent prelate missed the opportunity to proclaim the truth of Jesus. But perhaps he was hoping not to drive voters away from Mr Romney, since the choice is between a heretic and the most pro-abortion, anti-life president we’ve ever suffered under.
    Mr Romney’s faith is his personal business, but I understand that he is against abortion, euthanasia, and other evils, while our current president would not even sign the Born Alive Infant Protection Act,  on the basis that a ban to stop aborted babies from being shelved to die would be burdensome to their mothers, who alone should decide whether their babies live or die. I’d rather have a president who believes that Missouri was the garden of eden, than one who can stomach such evil.

  • Desertwatch333

    June 3rd: I watched the interview with Cardinal Wuerl and, although I often disagree with ‘political correctness’, this time I agree with Card. Wuerl. The interviewer was trying to entrap him…Mitt Romney may be a Mormon but he is a man of good character and family values, unlike so many politicians.  If he had said what you did about the Mormon religion,it would have been used to take Romney down and we would have 4 more years of the most pro-abortion/infanticide president in history. I’d rather have a Mormon. Nancy Pelosi is left to publicly attack the Bishops and the teachings of the Church and lures others to stand with her and she is Catholic. Mitt Romney, Mormon, has more integrity and honor than Ms. Pelosi.  I do not believe that Mormonism is a Christian religion but our leaders are not chosen because of their religious belief…let the Catholic leaders address the radically pro-abortion, pro contraception, pro gay marriage stands of prominent Catholic politicians …clean our own house first!!

  • Plpstaples

    Politicians are quite adept at not answering the question they are asked but rather replying in a non commital or generic way. It wouldn’t be difficult to reply with a short definition of what we believe about the triune God then demuring that he wasn’t an authority on what Mormons belive.
    That is what I think Fr. Orsi was getting at.

  • Florin S.

    June 4th: I understand but I do not think that is what Fr. Orsi meant…this was a political trap, a political question and Bishop Wuerl did not fall into the trap. This is going to happen over and over and over as the liberal left does all in their power to entrap Repubs. in their attempt to take Romney out and keep Obama in.  One word, one hint that the Bishops don’t believe Romney is a Christian and the liberals and radical leftists will jump on it and spread it in an even more radical way so that Evangelicals will stay home…Obama’s HHS Secretary Sebelius, chosen by Obama for her radical pro-abortion agenda, was George Tiller’s colleague and friend…Tiller who cut to pieces living babies in the wombs of their mothers through the ninth month…monsters all of them…I’ll take Romney and will say no word against him or against his religion…I’ve thoroughly checked him out and he IS an honorable, caring, generous, charitable family man…and who knows where God will lead him now…

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