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Two posts in the comment box capture what I was talking about in my item about Romney and evangelicals:
“You are right, Evengelicals (which I am) would vote for a non-Evangelical Christian. Remember Ronald Reagan?
“But when it comes to a heretical and thoroughly false religion attempting to pass itself off as part of the Christian body . . . WHEN IT HAS ATTACKED EVERY SINGLE DENOMINATION AS BEING EXPELLED FROM THE CHURCH from the lips of their faith-founding “Prophet” . . . they are going to have a problem when it comes to wanting to join those that they reject from the foundation of their new American religion.
“Mormons (and Mr. Romney) should have just been honest from day one. They certainly are fine conservtive Republicans. No problems there. But please no pretense of a Christian connection.”
“Latter-day Saints study the New Testament regularly, pray in the name of Christ, and have pictures of him all over our buildings. We celebrate Christmas and often send our children to Protestant preschools, where they fit in just fine. Others may wish to define “Christian” in a way that excludes us, but amongst ourselves, we have no doubts we are Christian. It ought to be to Romney’s credit that, amidst so many allegations of inauthenticity, he talks about Jesus Christ the way Mormons usually do.”
There you have it. Romney’s campaign reopened wounds that have been present in the evangelical and Mormon communities for a long time. The problem for conservative evangelicals is not tolerance; it’s theological consistency. On Beliefnet, we often take the view that people get to decide for themselves whether they’re Christian, and God can sort out who’s right. But orthodox Christians can’t really do that. If they were to say it’s up to each person to define his or her own Christianity, it makes a mockery of, well, a couple of thousand years of theological warfare. If they say that Mormons espouse just a different interpretation of Christianity, then they would really need to say the same thing about, say, liberal Protestants who don’t believe in the resurrection. It’s a slippery slope toward pure relativism.
Update: Rereading my post a few days later, I don’t like my phrase “a couple of thousand years of theological warfare.” A better phrasing would be “theological warfare and basic Protestant doctrine.” While certain aspects of Christianity have indeed been fought over for centuries, there are some core elements of doctrine that are universally held and conflict with Mormonism.