Romney, Mormons, and the Bible

Were you, like God-o-Meter, wondering why Mitt Romney appeared to be tripped up by a question about whether every word in the Bible is true during Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate? The New York Times Caucus Blog sheds some light on the answer.First off, the exchange between Romney and debate host Anderson Cooper:MR. ROMNEY: I believe the Bible is the word of God, absolutely. (Applause.) And I try to live by it as well as I can, but I miss in a lot of ways. But it’s a guide for my life and for hundreds of millions, billions of people around the world. I believe in the Bible. MR. COOPER: Does that mean you believe every word? MR. ROMNEY: You know — yeah, I believe it’s the word of God. The Bible is the word of God. I mean, I might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word, but I read the Bible and I believe the Bible is the word of God. I don’t disagree with the Bible. I try to live by it. And The Times’ explanation:

…[A]ll evangelicals place a high emphasis on the authority and trustworthiness of the Bible, even if they do not necessarily believe it is completely without error.On the other hand, Mormons believe categorically that the Bible contains errors, so Mr. Romney may have tripped himself up when he blurted out that he did believe in every word.


Was Romney hinting at the distinct Mormon view of the Bible by saying he “might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word?” Or was he trying to curry favor with evangelical Christians by blurring the line between Mormon and evangelical theology, saying “the Bible is the word of God?” God-o-Meter will only say that if Romney is pursuing this later path, it’s a dangerous one, threatening to upset both evangelicals and Mormons.6

Comments read comments(9)
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David H. Sundwall

posted November 30, 2007 at 11:58 am

I’m Mormon and don’t find it offensive. I don’t see him “blurring” anything.
He clearly stated that while we Mormons may interpret the Bible difeerently than Evangelicals (as if Evangelicals or other Christians all interpret the Bible the same) we have our differences.
Pretty clear to me.

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recovering ex-Pentecostal

posted November 30, 2007 at 3:31 pm

I wonder what part of “There shall be NO religious test to hold public office in America” that America, and specifically Anderson Cooper, does not get???
Why is this (or any other ‘religious question’ even being ASKED? How offensive it must be for Hindu Americans, for Buddhist Americans, for Jainist Americans, for atheist Americans, to continually have these religious tests put to would-be leaders.

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posted December 1, 2007 at 12:26 am

he said four times that the Bible is the word of God…
it’s important to evaluate presidential candidates on how well they grasp the reality of the many aspects of the world…
in this particular aspect, his perception is poor…
the Bible is clearly an anthology of the writings of uneducated superstitious ancient men…
many Myths in the Bible are inventions of the imagination…
it’s doubtful that God had anything to do with the invention of the Bible…
his answer is a mismatch with Reality…
it should be a caution when a candidate gives an answer that is a poor grasp of Reality…
faith hope love joy peace to all…

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Richard J Black

posted December 1, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was visited by the angel Moroni who dictated a new gospel written on gold tablets which were subsequently found missing. Furthermore they believe that the Garden of Eden was in this country and Jesus Christ made an appearance in America.

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posted December 2, 2007 at 12:36 am

yes, Richard…
the points you mentioned are all mismatches with Reality…
we know that Romney thinks “the Bible is the word of God”…
I suppose that can be taken non-literally…
what does Romney think about Smith/Moroni?
it seems that he would be an unfit presidential candidate if he didn’t think that the Smith/Moroni stories are Myths…
faith hope love joy peace to all…

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posted December 2, 2007 at 2:48 am

I’m a practicing Mormon (LDS) and like David, I didn’t find Romney’s comments on this occasion offensive.
Richard, as a practicing member of the LDS church, let me define my beliefs since your attempt to define my beliefs on this site was misleading.
1) LDS do believe Joseph Smith was visited by the angel Moroni. However, no new Gospel was “dictated” to Smith (not by Moroni nor the gold tablets). Moroni was the last prophet-historian of the gold plates and informed Joseph where to locate the hidden record. It was Joseph’s job to translate the record into English by the power of God. LDS believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the resulting record (Book of Mormon) is the same Gospel of Jesus Christ that is taught in the Bible. Therefore, the Book of Mormon does not introduce a new Gospel. On a side note, when Joseph was finished with the work of translation, Joseph gave the gold plates back to the angel Moroni who has been in custody of the plates since. The plates didn’t go “missing”.
2) The location of the Garden of Eden has not yet been defined in official doctrines of the Church, even in Joseph Smith’s day. I’ve read second-hand statements saying Joseph Smith talked about it, but his statements of the Garden’s location were not published as official doctine of the Church. If you’re going to quote what LDS believe, quote official doctrine and not opinions of church leaders past or present.
3) On Christ’s visit to America, you basically got it right but people who don’t know our beliefs need to know where this comes from and how it fits in with the Bible. Jesus said in the Bible that he needed to visit his other sheep (John 10:16). LDS believe that The Book of Mormon people in ancient America were the other sheep that Jesus referred to. The Book of Mormon has the account of this visit.
One last point. The official doctrine of the Church says the following about the Bible:
“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”
If evangelicals don’t necessarily believe the Bible is completely without error, then LDS and evangelicals may not be so far apart in this area. Since it’s an area of religious debate (and not political), it’s understandable that Romney didn’t want to go there during a political debate.

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posted December 2, 2007 at 1:13 pm

Virtually all American Indian legends tell of a Great White Spirit. The Book of Mormon describes such a visit.

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Beto Ochoa

posted December 2, 2007 at 9:42 pm

Virtually all American Indian legends tell of a Great White Spirit.

This is a profound misunderstanding of the nature of The White Spirit lore. There is no native lore about God or Jesus visiting. It is an invention by whites to justfy their beliefs.

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posted December 2, 2007 at 10:57 pm

thanks for the clarification…
it appears to me that 1) and 3) are unreliable Myths which are most likely serious mismatches with Reality…
I would question the fitness of Romney if he indeed believes that they are more than just Myths…
I hope his upcoming Faith speech gives us a clear answer…

faith hope love joy peace to all…

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