The Exaltation of Mitt Romney

Few religious leaders on earth have as much power and authority as the "prophet, seer and revelator" who leads the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But this life, on this world, is just the beginning. Consider this glimpse into eternity, drawn from a funeral eulogy for President Spencer W. Kimball in 1985.

"In the Colorado Rockies, I asked President Kimball a searching question," recalled Barbara B. Smith, the 10th general president of the church's Relief Society. "'When you create a world of your own, what will you have in it?' He looked around at those mountains for a few minutes before he answered and then he said, 'I'll have everything just like this world because I love this world and everything in it.' "

After all, added Smith: "What is our greatest potential? Is it not to achieve godhood ourselves?"

This is the question that will not die when Mormons face the leaders of traditional Christian groups to discuss that blunt question: "Are Mormons Christians?"

A fussy feud over doctrinal details? Ask Mitt Romney about that.

This concept of devout Mormons achieving godhood and creating worlds "is not an idea that would be foreign to Mormons today, but it is also not a concept we hear a lot about," said religion professor Robert Millet of Brigham Young University, a veteran of many interfaith dialogues.

Still, it's clear that this belief — called "exaltation" — is something that remains "conceivable to Mormons, while it is absolutely inconceivable to traditional Christians." But for modern Mormons, he stressed, there is little or no difference between talking about "exaltation" and talking about salvation and "eternal life."

When it comes to the very nature of God, Mormons have radically different beliefs than traditional Christians. For starters, Mormons reject Trinitarian Christianity and believe that the Father God of this world is a former man who, like Jesus, has a physical, perfected body. This Heavenly Father is married to a Heavenly Mother, creating a celestial family that is the cornerstone of Mormon teachings about family and eternity.

Most debates about these topic begin with a 1844 sermon by Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, in which he stated: "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret. I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea."

 Note that if Mormons can achieve godhood and create new worlds, this implies there are other gods ruling their own worlds. For the many critics of Mormonism, this mystery can be captured in one word — "polytheism."

"I think 'polytheism' is used … to describe the multiple gods of, say, the Greeks and the Romans," Boyd K. Packer, now acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told me in a 1986 interview. "We are talking about something entirely different, and that word conjures up ideas that are not accurate.

"I suppose that technically, it means 'many gods.' Technically, the word is all right. … It carries a lot of baggage."

These issues loomed overhead as Romney delivered his recent "Faith in America" address. Thus, he risked this profession: "What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history."

Romney was in a tough spot, said Millet, who attended the speech. It was a classic "danged if you do and danged if you don't" situation as the candidate affirmed his heritage while reaching out to the conservative Protestants and Catholics who are so crucial in Republican races today.

It's crucial to understand, said Millet, that Mormons are determined to retain their unique beliefs, while striving to clarify the differences between the actual "doctrines of the church and what you might call a kind of Mormon folklore."

The results will pacify few hostile outsiders. But the trend is clear.

"Throughout the church," he said, "our faith is much more Christocentric — more centered on the redemptive work of Jesus Christ — than the Mormonism that I knew as a boy in the 1950s. That has affected everything that we say and do."

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Guest

    Terry, What does the theology of Mitt Romney's religion have to do with his qualifications to become President of the United States?

    You have inferred that Catholics should have a problem with Romney because of his faith, but haven't stated the problem. For example, "Are Mormons Christians?", and "Mormons have radically different beliefs than traditional Christians.", as well as "These issues loomed overhead as Romney delivered his recent "Faith in America" address."

    If you have some doubts about a man's fitness to hold office, you should plainly state them. You are entitled to your opinions – when those opinions are plainly stated. But, an article filled with inference and innuendo is yellow journalism, and has no place on a Catholic web site.

    Your article is beneath the usual standards of Catholic Exchange.

    By the way, I am not a Romney supporter. But, I am a Catholic who believes in straight talk, instead of the talk used in today's political campaigns. 

     

  • Guest

    Romney leads a more ethical life and respects his god more than most catholics I know.  He was the governor of the state I live in.  Not once did he try to impose his faith's doctrines on the Commonwealth.  He did govern according to it's moral guidelines.  Many liberal catholics who are not in government spend more time trying to jam their form of Catholicism down my throat.  So, if Romney is elected POTUS, I would feel safe that my faith is not in danger.  It would also be nice to see some morality in the White House.

  • Guest

    Techwreck  I agree that this article is more political that I care for. However, if you can't see a problem with a religion that claims to be Christian, but when you look closely at it's doctrine you find . . . . "Mormons reject Trinitarian Christianity ."  I see no inference in that and think you need  to read the article a little closer or to understand your own faith a little better.

     

      The article should focus more on the Flaws of Mormonism than the fact that Mr. Romney is a Mormon.   I am not a supporter of Mr. Romney either, but as a former Mormon now catholic.  I support any article on a catholic website that exposes the flaws in Mormon Doctrine.   To me, the LDS/Mormon community was is and always will be a religion devised by a group of men in the 1830's to create their own religion.  They put a lot of thought into it but missed the mark in several key areas.  

     

    Most members of the LDS/Mormon community good people but are either ignorant of church doctrine or too set in their ways to change to anything else.  On another hand . . . Imagine what the Cathoilic Church could do if we sent most of our 18-20 year old boys and girls on a mission to convert others for 2 years. 

  • Guest

    TO me the article wasn't political or yellow at all.  In fact a lot of Catholics are going to learn about Trinitarian Theology, Christology and the difference between the divinization so common in Eastern theology and what Mormon doctrine.

    Perhaps I would like to hear from, Terry Mattingly on that theme.

     

    It is good that these themes are discussed here because many Catholics are going to be asking questions no t about whether MOrmons may be good people but on what the doctrine of their faith is.  Technically since they do not subscribe to the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed with the same understanding we do the Church of Latter Day Saints is not technically Christian.

  • Guest

    The purpose of this article is what? To trash Mormonism, or to trash a political candidate who is Mormon? I am a bit confused. But again, what does any of this have to do with the Presendency, or any political office for that matter? Either a person (male or female, black or white) is qualified to run the country (is anyone really qualified?) or one is not. The Bible tells us that God looks at the heart of man, rather then the exterior person. Stop looking for exterior reasons to debase someone and start looking at the heart of the person. If one looks back far enough they may remember a Catholic Presendent who's moral life was not exactly something to write home about. Before we attempt removing the splinter from the other persons eye, we had better remove the beam from our own eyes first. Stop judging political candidates on their religious preverances and start looking at their qualifications and track record. Faith and morals do have their place, but it should not be all we look at. Ultimately, our faith should be in God, not in man.

     

    James

  • Guest

    I think the purpose of this article was not to trash anyone or anything but to point out the fact that words are important, and for all of us to be speaking the same language, we have to agree to the meaning of the words used.

    I don't see this as being an article about whether or not to vote for Romney, but to point out that the words he uses are true to him, yet mean something entirely different for him.

    For instance, his statement, What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind

    is accurate for Romney, but means something completely different for him (and Mormons) than it does for Trinitarian Christians.

    The point of this article is to make people aware of the MEANING behind the words used.

  • Guest

    I seem to recall that Thomas Jefferson (you remember, the "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" guy) wasn't anybody's model for a stalwart defender of Christian orthodoxy, either. Fact is, he was a self-described Enlightenment-era deist, and distained the established colonial Protestant denominations of his day. The things his opponents (need I mention John Addams?) said about him when he ran for president in 1800 make the current sniping at Mitt Romney look downright trivial and petty. Deist or not, Jefferson would go on to become, in the minds of many historians (and Americans of every generation) one of our greatest presidents. I'm not a great fan of Romney (for reasons other than his Mormon background), so this is in no way an endorsement of the man. This is merely to point out that one's theological shortcomings need not be an impediment to prudent governance.

  • Guest

    No, Mormons are not Christians.  They do not accept the Baptism of a Christian convert to Mormonism and the Catholic Church does not accept their baptism when they convert because it is not Trinitarian.

    In every Mass the Priest says the words: "By the mingling of this water and wine may we come to share in the Divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity" as he pours the water into the wine before the consecration.  Our future is a different kind of Divinity than the Mormon faith expects.  My understanding is that they believe they can become gods just like God, where we believe that we will share in the Godhead as adopted sons and daughters – accomplishing by Grace what the Trinity accompishes by Nature, but far from able to accomplish all They do.  This is not a component of our faith much heard about today.

    All that being said, we do need to be concerned about having a non Christian as President.  As an earlier article on CE wondered: What if the doctrine determining Mormon authorities did another about face on polygamy and race or made some other declaration very contrary to our beliefs.  How would a devout Mormon react?  You cannot separate faith and political life in social issues if you are in fact devout – which Mr Romney clearly claims.

  • Guest

    My question is…as Catholics should we vote for a Mormon who is pro-life or a Catholic who is pro-choice? 

  • Guest

    Terry….

     

    Thank youfor this article.  It is VERY important for people to know the meanings behind words that are used-especially in a religious context.  Many Protestant/Catholic arguments and misunderstandings arise because we use words differently ("devotion" for example, is one thing to a Protestant, another to a Catholic.)  I am an convert from a fundamentalist Evangelical church, so I'm quite aware of the meanings that can be misconstrued because of different words.

     

    Being a Mormon doesn't mean that Mitt could not serve as a good president, but we do need to be informed voters so that we can make good choices for our leaders.  I disagree heartily that this is "yellow journalism" or in any way a political article, and I appreciate knowing these facts.  Thanks again!

     

    –You have made us for yourself, O Lord; and our hearts are restless until they rest in You. — St. Augustine

  • Guest

    I don't believe that it makes sense to judge Romney against a different standard that any of the other candidates.  If you want to judge Romney based on his religious beliefs, then let's examine the religious beliefs of the other candidates.  In fact, we should compare the evidence (or lack thereof) that they put their respectives faiths in practice.  In short, when one considers the actual impact a president will have on society, such as judicial appointments, are we better off with a faithful Mormon or a professing Catholic who is pro-abortion and pro gay marriage?  I'm not a Romney supporter either, but I believe that comparisons have to be fair.

    For my part, I simply cannot understand why conservative Christians and pro-life advocates will not enthusiastically throw their support behind Alan Keyes.

  • Guest

    A Confession Fantasy

    Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last confession. I have just realized that I committed serious sins in November, 2000 and November 2004. I voted for a heretic who pretends to be a Christian but rejects the truth of the Eucharist, the magisterium of the Catholic Church and has never venerated Mary or called her blessed. And he is unclear on the divine and human nature of Christ and His divine personhood. For these grave sins and all the sins of my past life I am heartily sorry and I ask your help and your graces to not sin again. To show you my firm purpose of amendment, I promise to vote for Rudy this time -You did want me to vote for a Catholic didn't you?

    Please leave the finer details of theology out of political discussions.

  • Guest

    Jacko

    IN GOD WE TRUST —            Really? Is it true, like in really, really, really, really? Now, and over the next months may be one of the most significant and important times to test ourselves. Scripture relates God’s promise, “If my people will humble themselves and come to me in prayer, I will heal their land.” II Paral 7:14 Suppose our Catholic Church, because we have an organized common platform, were to lead, exhort and continually remind the faithful to pray a simple prayer, such as, "Father, we implore you to affect the minds and hearts of the voters so that the candidate that You know is the best to lead our country out of this downward slide of immorality and rejection of Your laws, is elected."  According to the polls, the country is almost evenly divided regarding the candidates for president in this next election. Obviously, it would be divisive and unlawful to suggest from the pulpit or in 'official Church material’ a specific candidate or party.  At this point, our honesty and ‘trust in God’ would be tested.  Each person will have to trust that God, in His Wisdom and Divine Will, will cause the election of the person of God’s choice. If a person were reluctant to let the Church promote prayer for the specific intention of God affecting His Perfect Will in this matter, it would appear apparent that this person is not confident that the candidate of that person’s choice is in accord with God’s Will and choice. The Church would seem to have a perfect right to exhort to this prayer, even though some people might imagine that they were praying in opposition to their own opinions or desires. If the Church would take up this challenge, the Holy Spirit would surely foster this prayer among all Christians, and America will be on her way back to                                                                        One Nation under God!                       IN GOD WE REALLY DO TRUST, PLEASE!  JOStJohnBaptist@aol.com

     

  • Guest

    In his December 21 article "Church Separation" in The Wall Street Journal, editorial board member Jason Riley writes this opening paragraph.

    "In an "Official Declaration" issued on June 8, 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints extended "priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church." The church announced that a "revelation had been received" by its then-president Spencer Kimball. Until then, Mormonism was a defiantly apartheid faith that denied blacks full participation based on doctrinal beliefs that whites are "pure" and "delightsome," while black-skinned people are "unrighteous," "despised" and "loathsome" descendants of the biblical Cain, who was cursed for killing Abel."


    Mr. Riley goes on to point out where this country had moved by 1978 in terms of race relations and race politics. We'd moved quite a way. On a global scale, for those of you who know his biography, you know that Cardinal Arinze was already a priest in the Catholic Church that would eventually rumor him to be on the short list to becoming a Pope.


    This was not a possibility within the Mormon church. An interesting story had been conjured by Joseph Smith and was still hanging around when 1978 calendared in. 


    If you can't get hold of the Journal piece this snippet may seem unfair of me. But I will tell you that Mr. Riley does make an interesting argument that I have not seen addressed or refuted and it goes to the point of some commenters above who rightly say that the candidate Romney's religion should not prejudice voters. 


    Yet we are informed by our faith. And reason and faith have proven to be a superb way of living one's life. So let's give credit to Mr. Romney but with Mr. Riley wonder at how this candidate is informed by his faith in the living of his life and how that might translate to the populus he wants to lead in his Presidency. 


    Mr. Riley's last paragraghs read: 

    "In his ballyhooed speech earlier this month, Mr. Romney said he wouldn't renounce any of Mormonism's precepts. He also implied that questions like Mr. Russert's [Meet The Press]  come too close to a "religious test" for public office that the Constitution explicitly forbids. But in a country with America's racial past, Mr. Russert's question isn't a religious test. It's due diligence. And for all his claims to the contrary, Mr. Romney has, in fact, been willing to distance himself from past teachings of the church — just not those having to do with its treatment of black people.

    "'Look, the polygamy, which was outlawed in our church in the 1800s, that's troubling to me," [Romney] told "60 Minutes" in May. "I must admit, I can't imagine anything more awful than polygamy." 



    "Gee," Mr. Riley concludes. " I can."



    As a popular radio host often quips: "For those of you in Rio Linda…." What Mr. Romney has equated with Polygamy is Racial Bigotry. And that is a kind of guy who may deserve a second look, even from those who grant that religion shouldn't be a consideration when one votes.

  • Guest

    It strikes me that Mr. Mattingly was offering a simple FYI.  I expect many readers are not aware that Mormonism is not Christian since it does not have a trinitarian baptism.  Now they know.  I would imagine many Americans would like to know what makes their president's spiritual heart tick. 

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    I know enough about Mormons to fill a book. I have Mormon converts in my family. When the first family member converted, my wife and I researched the LDS/Mormonism from a number of angles – pro, con, neutral – fifteen books worth of angles.

    The most telling was the book written by Brigham Young’s grandson, who owns the family library. He is now an Evangelical minister (and, you can say he was ‘con’ in a BIG way). His take for all purposes was that the LDS cannot be trusted like one would a fully Christian (Trinitarian) sect.

    For one thing, from a tactical standpoint, their ‘missionaries’ are ‘good’ at not answering questions and objections; in part, because at their young age they aren’t really that expert at their faith. They will say that ‘we are passing our authority’ but effectively mean that ‘we are ignoring your comments’. They never get around to introducing anyone to whom they passed their authority. When once my wife and I stood by their having passed authority, demanding a greater authority, the man (mid-thirties in age) they brought in ‘passed his authority’!!!

    All in all, the Mormons I have met are nice enough. And, I would likely trust the average Mormon over your typical secularist-socialist types. They do have strong marriage and family values and admire others who have strong marriages and families, no matter faith.

    Think, too, that both federal Senators from Utah are Mormon: one rather conservative Orrin Hatch, the other the baldly liberal Harry Reid. Even among these clannish LDS folk they vary quite a bit, in politics. Each of them must be heard and judged based on what one hears. George Romney, Mitt’s Dad, struck me as Rockefeller Republican; I have tended to dislike their fence-sitting ways. And, neither Hatch nor Reid is like old man Romney!

    The local missionaries, inevitably from out-of-state, often visited my Mom off some list converted relatives provided; and, she always invited them for Italian-food feasts. Those boys did love home-made pasta and meatballs! And no money had to come out of their meager budgets.

    Mom uniformly demurred their missionary thrusts with the exquisitely simple parry (you’ll love this one):
    Eh, everything good about your church you stole from the Catholic Church.”
    They would end up laughing at her staunch if simple Catholicism. And, they honored my Mom as a mother, like she was Mom away from Mom.

    My Mom would probably like Mitt Romney – then, as staunchly as defending her Catholic faith, vote Democratic because of ‘its the party of FDR’, who died before I was even born. She never accepted that her party adopted a common and national pro-abortion plank. She was probably too embarrassed to have to indicate her feelings of betrayal.

    Remember, I love you, too .

    In our delighted glory in our Infant King,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    Good comment by Pristinus Sapienter.  One small comment is that Dingy Harry Reid is senator from Nevada.  And he probably is to Mormons what  Kerry/Biden/Kennedy/Leahy etc are to Catholics

  • Guest

    Mr Mattingly,

    I don't think Mitt Romney is running for National Pastor.  He's running for the President of the United States.  The specifics of his theology is not a concern for me, a Roman Catholic.  I think the most important things are 1) his values 2) his integrity 3) his leadership and most important his electability.  In my opinion, he has all of those qualities and he would make a great president!

    Ray

    Rio Vista, California

  • Guest

    "A fussy feud over doctrinal details? Ask Mitt Romney about that."

    "These issues loomed overhead as Romney delivered his recent "Faith in America" address."

    "Romney was in a tough spot, said Millet, who attended the speech. It was a classic "danged if you do and danged if you don't" situation as the candidate affirmed his heritage while reaching out to the conservative Protestants and Catholics who are so crucial in Republican races today."

    Pmccrsp, lpioch, and paxchristi, tell me how you can read the above comments about Mitt Romney in the context of Mattingly's article and not conclude that the intent is political. Romney never claimed to be a theologian, so why should the author include him if the article was just about religion? And, why publish the article in the middle of a hotly contested political campaign?

    After reading all of the comments, I still believe that the article is political and beneath the usual standards of Catholic Exchange. (Disclaimer: I do not support Romney for reasons other than his religion.)

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    As the months progress, even the MSM cannot help but deliver useful details. From my readings, and much like Hillary Clinton, Mr. Romney never met a group he did not want to tell and give them exactly what they wanted, no matter the morality.

    For one thing, as the Mass.sup.court made it clear that they wanted legislative action about same-sex marriage. Before the legislators could act, Romney was putting out the necessary license forms for same-sex marriage, and enforcing same-sex marriage requirements on local marriage officials.

    Yet, too, without his preemptive moves, the sup.court dictating to the legislature has ‘unconstitutional’ written all over it. The Massachusetts citizenry attempts to focus on that were thwarted by Romney’s moves.

    In other words, Romney has proved as morally feckless as any in the face of, at least, the homosexual special interest groups, with whom most Americans do not abide.

    Remember, I love you, too .

    In our delighted glory in our Infant King,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    I conclude the intent is not primarily political.

    Of course, there's some aspect of political because Romney is running for president.  No one would listen to his religion speech if he wasn't.  I still say the point of the article is to point out that WORDS have different meanings depending on who is saying them and how they define them.

     

    "A fussy feud over doctrinal details? Ask Mitt Romney about that."

    "These issues loomed overhead as Romney delivered his recent "Faith in America" address."

    This is the point.  He made the address.  He's running for office.  To THAT extent, it is political.  But the CONTENT of the address (CE didn't ask him to give it…he gave it, and CE has decided to stress the true meanings of the words he used in it) is the point. 

     

    "Romney was in a tough spot, said Millet, who attended the speech. It was a classic "danged if you do and danged if you don't" situation as the candidate affirmed his heritage while reaching out to the conservative Protestants and Catholics who are so crucial in Republican races today."

    And how did he reach out?  Using WORDS that conservative Protestants and Catholics would use.  But with different meanings.

    THE POINT is that we need to listen/read the address with the ACTUAL meaning behind the words. 

    I will reitterate with the example I gave above:

    For instance, his statement, What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind

    is accurate for Romney, but means something completely different for him (and Mormons) than it does for Trinitarian Christians.

     

    I don't see how this is beneath CE unless you feel that CE should stay 100% out of politics.  Which means we Catholics have to become scitzophrenic.  (and maybe learn how to spell?)

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    Hmmm – as a reader of ‘First Things’, I find a whole journal that nearly demands we take our place in all politics (a la Public Square) verily as Catholics, and Christians, and married and families . . .

    Frankly, anything that affects me must have my involvement, somehow, and with God as my guide. But, God can guide such as, say, my considerations and decisions in politics, through CE as anywhere that seeks His truth and wisdom, and His glory.

    CE offers three main heads for articles. Under ‘Today‘ we can usually find the most theological, philosophical and religious. Under ‘Touched by Grace‘ are things more pastoral and familial. And in between, the sort of wild-card slot, in ‘The Edge‘ we encounter more external things upon which our faith touches, and which touch upon our faith.

    I’LL finally get published on CE if they open a section called ‘So, you wanna see ‘Lost and Confused’?

    Remember, I love you, too .

    In our delighted glory in our Infant King,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

MENU