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.