Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama – What Do They Believe?
Beliefnet looks at the religious beliefs of President Barack Obama and Presumptive Republican Nominee Mitt Romney. Both men have had to deal with misinformation about their beliefs, and we seek to clear the air by looking at the differences between traditional Christianity and Mormonism.
BY: Stephen Russ
On Sacred Texts
The Christianity that President Obama embraces views the Bible as the sole revelation of God. While church councils and documents have informed the religion, the Bible is the lone sacred text. In Mormonism, it is believed that divine revelation continued beyond the Bible in the form of the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrines and Covenants.
The Book of Mormon, dating back to 1830, and the other founding documents contain many of the theological assertions that separate Mormonism from traditional Christian teachings. It is believed to be the instructions to the true church of Christ in the latter days, hence the Latter Day saints. Mormons do embrace the Bible as a revelation from God, just not as the sole revelation.
One related note that is important to consider is that the traditional form of Christianity has long been a global religion, spreading from humble roots over the last 2,000 years. The Mormon texts were buried in modern day New York and the Book of Mormon tells of how Jesus appeared to the ancient natives of America shortly after his resurrection. Parts of the Book of Mormon refer to the exceptional nature of America and believe it to be a righteous place, an idea that Mitt Romney clearly embraces. This difference has had a decisive impact on the politics of the two men. President Obama has made it clear that he values America as a part of a global landscape, and that has influenced his foreign policy greatly. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism embraces America as a nation over other nations, which influences his politics.
God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit
A central part of traditional Christian doctrine is the concept of the Trinity. The Trinity is the belief that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three coexisting forms in one total being. They are different, yet the same. Christians have expressed this idea in a number of ways, including those who don’t believe in it at all. So, while Mormonism doesn’t always follow the traditional Trinitarian doctrine, it isn’t necessarily radical. There are Mormon groups who believe in the Trinity, much like there are Christian groups who don’t.
However, the traditional Mormon approach to the Trinity is that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are separate beings, but all with the same aim. That may seem like semantics, but it is important when you consider how they view the parts of the Trinity.
God – For traditional Christians, God has no human form and is a spirit. For Mormons, God has a body.
Holy Spirit – For Trinitarian Christians, the third person of the Trinity, and for Mormons a separate being from both God and Jesus.
Jesus – Both groups view Jesus as the Son of God and the savior of mankind through his resurrection. However, due to their rejection of the Trinity, Mormons do not believe that Jesus was God on earth. Rather, Jesus came from the same spiritual state Mormons believe all of humanity comes from.