Saturday, April 28, 2007

Frank Pastore on Mormonism and Mitt Romney

I don't write about religion much here, but sometimes other bloggers make statements that cry out for a response.

A former baseball pitcher and conservative evangelical Christian talk radio show host named Frank Pastore has written twice about Mitt Romney and Mormonism. His efforts are more pathetic each time he tries. His first piece, in which he tries in vain to say something thoughtful, is here. Among other things, he finds the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Church") a polytheistic, non-Christian cult.

Now Pastore has tried again here. He's looking worse and worse the more he writes about this subject. This is a foolish discussion to perpetuate, politically, religiously, or otherwise.

Politically, Frank Pastore is not going to influence anyone's vote whose mind is not already made up. He has a narrow audience of listeners and readers who agree with him already; that's why they listen and read.

Religiously, much of Pastore writes here about Mormon beliefs is either wrong or distorted. That's just a fact. If you want to know what Mormons believe, ask them, not a talk show host who's clearly hostile to the Church. That's true of any religion.

Otherwise, Pastore's writing is very sloppy and suggests his is not terribly concerned with the truth or with fairness. It smacks of bigotry, despite all his denials.

To begin with, he knows, or should know, that "cult" is almost universally understood in a pejorative sense. When he says "cult," people think Jim Jones, Branch Davidians, and so forth.

He also should know that when he says "polytheist," people think of paganism.

When he says "non-Christian," people think of faiths that do not believe in Jesus Christ.

Any fair-minded and informed person (it seems clear Pastore is not the former and he may not be the latter) knows that neither definition describes the Church.

Finally, Pastore says he'll vote for Romney "if he can win the Republican nomination." That means only that Pastore could live with a Mormon president if the alternative is a Democrat.

There is no reason for anyone to care what Pastore thinks, except that his writing - regardless of his intentions-- may a few people misinformed who probably don't care if they learn the truth anyway.

11 Comments:

Anonymous bot said...

Are members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) more "Christian" than Evangelicals? . Protestants and Catholics subscribe to the Nicene creed, which was initiated by the Emperor Constantine in the Fourth Century to rid Scriptures of the Apocrypha, which made reference to the oral traditions of Jewish and early Christian temple worship.

First Century Christian churches, in fact, continued the Jewish temple worship traditions:
1) Baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family
2) Lay clergy
3) Anointing with holy oil after baptism
4) Then clothing in white clothing

An actual first century Christian Church is re-created in the Israeli Museum; you can verify the above. And read Exodus Ch 29 for Aaron and his sons” ordinances. Jewish Temple practices were continued by Christians prior to Constantine”s corruption (see St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 A.D., Lecture XXI). Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and not allowing non-Christians to witness them

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ being separate beings, united in purpose. To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and to whom was he speaking on the Mount of Transfiguration?

The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity, which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one."
Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) have concern for their ancestors” spiritual welfare, so they practice proxy baptism. (1 Corinthians 15:29 & Malachi 4:5-6).

Only members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue these practices of First Century Christians. But Mormons don”t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”:. All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament.

It”s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be the more authentic Christian.

* * *

Furthermore, the National Study of Youth and Religion done by UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005 found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LDS Evangelical
Attend Religious Services weekly 71% 55%
Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life –
extremely important 52 28
Believes in life after death 76 62
Believes in psychics or fortune-tellers 0 5
Has taught religious education classes 42 28
Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline 68 22
Sabbath Observance 67 40
Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith 72 56
Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily 50 19
Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen
(very supportive) 65 26
Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping Teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality 84 35

Saturday, April 28, 2007 5:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just respond matter of factly. Sometimes reacting too strongly to it may not be wise either. I know you try but personal commentary about his intentions may just stoke the flames.

Politics is also tricky thing to talk to people about. Add religion to the mix and it becomes even more dicey.

Saturday, April 28, 2007 7:41:00 PM  
Anonymous David Glick said...

Read Pastore's article. Obviously the guy is either a bit of an idiot or purposely lying. I particularly like the part where he says "many" Mormon's don't know anything about their religion's beliefs. News to me. Most studies, in fact, show that Mormons are far more knowledgeable about their beliefs than the average church goer. Take my teenage son for instance. Growing up, he has spent two hours a week in classes learning about his religion. Now that he is in high school, he spends one hour each day (at 6am - ugh!) learning about LDS beliefs. In a few years, he will spend two years being a missionary for the Church. He will tehn continue to have various positions in the church throughout his life that will require him to continue to learn more about his beliefs.
One doesn't have to agree with our beliefs, but to make gross mistatements as Pastore does, is simply offensive.

Saturday, April 28, 2007 7:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Denny said...

Well, I am not voting for a Mormon, but rather an American who happens to be a good Mormon who has the best ideas and plans to solve America's many challenges and dangers it faces right now, and in those that America will face in the not-too-distant future.

No religious test for public office!

Surely we can all get along now, can't we?

Go Mitt Go!

Denny sMITTen

Saturday, April 28, 2007 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous DirkG said...

I think Frank Pastore is really a baseball pitcher at heart. At least in the case of his politics vs religion ballgame. When it comes to the political batter, he throws his best pitch, a good ol' fashioned fastball down the middle for a strike. He said he'll vote for Mitt Romney for President. That's STRIKE ONE!! When it comes to the religion batter, he throws his junk pitch, a screwball, which is low and in the dirt. That's BALL ONE!! Ever time he throws at the Mormon religion, he gets the same result, BALL TWO, BALL THREE, BALL FOUR!!! So, why even swing at his junk pitches? Just wait and you get a "free pass". Save your best comments for the BIG leagues. Mr. Pastore's screwballs are just BUSH league. Sometimes an analogy (or parable) is the best way to communicate TRUTH.

Sunday, April 29, 2007 7:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sweeney said...

I love you guys, but with respect and humility I feel like I have to offer some advice. In following the discussion of the Romney campaign, I’ve had occasion to read the comments of many Mormons attempting to answer criticism of their faith. It is impressive how well Mormons have learned and integrated the teachings of their church into their discourse with others. However, I’ve noticed a pattern of echoing boilerplate rhetoric that actually serves more to divert than to inform.

Most common and unfortunately specious is the “if you want to know about Mormonism ask a Mormon” suggestion. It might sound logical; however it presupposes that Mormon believers are the only ones who can become conversant about Mormonism. In fact, anyone can read Mormon scripture and other Mormon writing, listen to their words, and form opinions about how well they match up with the doctrines and teachings of other faiths. If Mormonism were defending itself in a court of law, we certainly wouldn’t determine guilt or innocence by asking the defendant. In a search for the truth, it would be non-Mormon experts who would offer the most unbiased perspective, and most people you talk to will have an innate sense of this.

Calling someone a bigot does not make them one, and if they deny it, calling them a bigot again does not invalidate their denial. Bigotry has a specific meaning and in making the accusation one ought to be able to argue convincingly that the person in question exhibits those traits. Apart from this, using words like “bigot” is merely an attempt to gain leverage in a discussion without actually making a sound argument.

After employing this very tactic, the article complains because prejudicial words like “polytheistic” and “non-Christian” are being employed at the expense of Mormonism. Admittedly, though I do believe that Mormonism is polytheistic, Pastore does not define polytheism or explain how Mormonism fits the definition, so in that sense his use of the term is as unfair as his being called a bigot. However, he does a reasonable, if cursory, job of explaining how Mormonism fits the definition of “non-Christian”, so whatever other associations people may make, he is under no obligation whatsoever to use a more neutral term in describing how Mormon theology stands in opposition to Christianity.

One oft repeated and specious argument is that Mormonism is “Christian” because it espouses a belief in Jesus Christ. Most people believe that Jesus was a historical figure who actually lived on Earth and those that do usually have some conception of who He is and attach some kind of meaning to His life. Christians on the other hand, have very specific beliefs about who Jesus is and the significance of His life. Whether or not Mormons endorse these beliefs is a matter of debate, but in any case, a person cannot claim any connection to Christianity merely by dropping the name Jesus Christ in a doctrinal discussion.

If Mormons intend to make cogent arguments defending their faith, they will have to do so by addressing opposing arguments rather than directing the conversation toward comfortable talking points or complaining about semantics.

May God richly bless you as you strive to understand the truth of the Gospel!

Monday, April 30, 2007 1:50:00 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

I wrote this email to Mr. Pastore after reading his article and I think it can go for all those who whole-heartedly agree with him. I'm happy to be your friend, I hope you wouldn't mind being mine.


I am a Mormon. I'm not offended by your article. It's fine that you have your understanding of what the tenets of my faith are. I respect your opinion and won't be naive enough to think that I could educate you on any of the principles that you wrote incorrectly about. I have only one suggestion if you really desire to be knowledgeable about something. Research it yourself and not only study the research of others. I'm sure you're wise enough to know that everyone has biases on just about everything whether it be the constitution or religion. I read the constitution conservatively and liberals read it differently. I've read and still read the Bible and understand things in it may be a little different than you do. That's fine. I, and the church I belong to does not say you're false for it. We just suggest that you may not possibly have all that there is to understand. We don't look to tear down what you already know, but add to it. While most of the tenets of my faith that you describe as being different from yours are true and sound strange. It is the same with fundamental Christian beliefs that we share that if quickly described to the agnostic can sound quite strange if not shared with appropriate foreground, and intent. What basically sets us apart is whether we believe that God still provides prophets in our day just as He did in ancient times. I do believe that God loves us every bit as much as his children in olden times and is willing to provide us with guidance and direction. In short, I believe in the Bible and so do you. Where our spiritual paths diverge is with our beliefs about the Book of Mormon. You write about its blasphemes and falsehoods that you have learned from the studies of others. Please be intellectually honest enough to realize that objectiveness is truly a rare thing and that there comes a point for each individual when he has to study the actually text himself in order to form his own opinion. Without malice I say to you. I've done my own study of the King James Version of the Bible and believe in its validity. Have you personally read the Book of Mormon?
Sincerely,
Chad Allen

Monday, April 30, 2007 5:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

poster Jim gets it just about right.

After seeing the PBS show last night I have come to the conclusion that any faith or church who still reveres a man who at the very least was involved in a decades long coverup and denial, of the murders of over a hundred americans, is no church I would ever want to ba associated with.
FCS, their college is named after him too. BYU.

Where is their shame?

Hillary before Mitt is all I can say.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 4:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Jim Sweeny--I enjoyed what you had to say--very thoughtful and fair. (I am an active Mormon). There was just one thing I disagreed with:

Christians on the other hand, have very specific beliefs about who Jesus is and the significance of His life. Whether or not Mormons endorse these beliefs is a matter of debate, but in any case, a person cannot claim any connection to Christianity merely by dropping the name Jesus Christ in a doctrinal discussion.

If the beliefs you are referring to about Jesus Christ are that he is our personal Savior and that he suffered and died so that we might live--there is no debate. That is the very foundation and crux of what I personally believe and was taught growing up in the LDS Church.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 3:54:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sweeney said...

To anonymous,

It is wonderful to know that you (and I’m sure the vast LDS majority) honestly embrace the notion that the Lord died for our sins and made our salvation possible, but let me explain my use of the word “debate” with respect to Jesus Christ. Certainly there is debate as to whether or not Jesus was God (not "a god" but "God") as I believe He claimed. Also subject to debate is whether or not believing in the divinity of Jesus is required for salvation. Some might argue that it is only necessary to believe that He lived a sinless live and bore our sins on the cross, and others would argue that a co-eternal and co-equal Father and Son are absolutely essential beliefs. And of course there is the endless debate over whether salvation comes through faith in the atonement of Christ alone, or if Christians are somehow required to "prove" their faith to God with any number of good works, outward ceremonies and membership in a particular church.

The last question may highlight the greatest difference between two people claiming faith in Christ. It is fine (and important) to say that Jesus' saving work on the cross is the foundation of what you were taught and believe, but I would put as much importance on what is not said about salvation as what is said. To my understanding, the gospel does not consist of faith in Jesus plus some other revelation or additional actions on our part. Good works are the product of our love for God and the evidence of our changed hearts, nothing more. Our creator truly knows our hearts and has explicitly revealed that the work required for salvation began and ended at the cross.

If you can honestly say that a person who believes and accepts our Lord’s gift of atonement is saved - period - and that it is not necessary to trust in Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, and that salvation is equally and freely available to those who choose to worship as Catholics or Presbyterians or at Calvary Chapel or in messianic Jewish synagogues, then I will joyfully call you my Christian brother.

Sunday, May 06, 2007 10:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

US President Tim Kalemkarian, US Senate Tim Kalemkarian, US House Tim Kalemkarian: best major candidate.

Thursday, May 10, 2007 1:52:00 AM  

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