Mormons believe in a false gospel and are not Christians, concluded one of the nation's preeminent evangelicals in what appeared to be the close of an online debate over Mormonism.
"Here is the bottom line. As an Evangelical Christian – a Christian who holds to the 'traditional Christian orthodoxy' of the Church – I do not believe that Mormonism leads to salvation," wrote Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on Wednesday evening.
"To the contrary, I believe that it is a false gospel that, however sincere and kind its adherents may be, leads to eternal death rather than to eternal life," he stated.
Mohler's response is part of an ongoing "blog dialogue" sponsored by the Web site Beliefnet.com. Since June 28, the evangelical scholar and prominent Mormon science-fiction writer Orson Scott Card have been debating whether Mormons can be considered Christians.
During the course of the debate, Card focused on whether Mormons are moral people, good citizens and why Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney should be supported by evangelicals. He emphasized that Mormons share many of the same values as evangelical Christians and believe Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation.
However, Mohler noted that whether a Mormon has similar moral values to evangelical Christians is beside the point because Beliefnet.com had asked whether Mormons can be considered Christians based on traditional Christian orthodoxy.
"It appears that we are not really discussing the same question," noted Mohler in his latest blog response.
"The debate has never been about whether Mormons are good Americans or would make good neighbors," he wrote.
"I dare say that most American Evangelicals and traditional Roman Catholics would find more in common with Mormons in terms of child-rearing, sexual morality, the protection of marriage and family, and a host of other issues, than they would with liberal Catholics or liberal Protestants," acknowledged Mohler.
But Mormonism from its beginning has rejected traditional Christian orthodoxy, which is part of the core Mormon identity, pointed out the highly-respected theologian. The subtitle of The Book of Mormon is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."
"A 'testament,' that is, other than that accepted by the historic Christian churches," Mohler highlighted.
Mohler – who is often seen on "Larry King Live" and other popular news show representing the Christian voice – concluded that Mormonism is not just another form of Christianity and is incompatible with "traditional Christian orthodoxy."
Mormon defender Card readily agrees with Mohler that Mormons do not fit into the Christian category as defined by traditional Christian orthodoxy. However, he argues that Mormons should be considered "nontraditional Christians."
"Despite our deep differences of belief over the nature of God and his plans for his children, we recognize that those who believe in the other Christian faiths have taken a giant step closer to fulfilling the intentions of our Lord," wrote Card on Thursday. "They are, in heart and mind, Christians."
He further added, "We ask only the same favor in return. Let's take that word 'traditional' and make use of it. Instead of saying that we are 'not Christian'…let us agree that Mormons are 'nontraditional Christians.'"
Card looked back on Christian history when Protestant Christian denominations were not accepted as part of the traditional church according to the Catholic viewpoint, and was even condemned guilty of heresy.
He concluded: "Call us 'nontraditional Christians' and continue to encourage your communicants not to believe our doctrines. We'll happily continue to call you 'traditional Christians' and teach people why they should believe our doctrines."
The Mormon defender ended by calling for unity in a world where Christians are persecuted and expressed appreciation that Dr. Mohler affirmed that Mormons should be equally considered for American public offices regardless of theological difference.