Mormon Defender Skirts Christian Question; Instead Calls for Unity

The chosen defender of Mormonism in a much talked-about online debate avoided the challenges posed by one of the nation's preeminent evangelicals Wednesday on why Mormons cannot be considered Christians. Instead, well-known science-fiction writer Orson Scott Card called for unity among believers of Jesus in his latest blog.

The former Mormon missionary spent an extensive amount of his essay detailing how he was seen as an outsider by some Mormons who considered a good Mormon to be a Republican and someone that holds a steady day job. Card, a democrat and writer, noted that these Mormons were from a town in Utah where 98 percent of the population was Mormons.

However, when he moved to the east coast where Mormons are the minority, fellow Mormons there embraced him and accepted his differences.

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The long personal narrative was given as a micro-example of how one's point of view can change depending on if people feel they are in the minority or majority.

Card contends that the major Christian denominations view Mormons as the odd minority group and thus thinks they can afford to reject it. However, when these Christian groups consider the secular world as its opponent then it is the minority and therefore all believers of Jesus Christ should band together to confront the opponent.

"Instead of 'mainstream Christianity' seeking opportunities to shun and exclude and deny the Christianity of Mormons, it might be more helpful for us to admit our irreconcilable differences but then recognize that in this world, today, right now, we can gain more for the cause of Christ by treating each other with respect and honoring each other for the degree to which we do live up to his teachings," wrote Card in his second blog entry.

The Mormon author and Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, have been engaged in an ongoing "blog dialogue" since June 28. The debate is sponsored by the Web site and confronts the question whether Mormons can be considered Christians.

Though Card's long essay does provide points why Mormons should be considered Christians, it avoids responding to Mohler's second blog, in which the evangelical scholar asked why Mormons now want to be considered part of mainstream Christianity when at Mormonism's founding it declared itself as the only true church and denounced all other churches as corrupt.

"Why would Mormonism now want to be identified as a form of Christianity, when its central historical claim is that the churches commonly understood to be Christian are part of the Church of the Devil?" questioned Mohler.

In addition, Mohler had explicitly stated in his second blog that Beliefnet had asked him to debate whether Mormons can be considered Christians based on Christian orthodoxy. In other words, the arguments as set by the sponsor site should revolve around Christian orthodoxy and theology.

Mohler noted that if Christianity was defined in terms of sociology, the history of religions or other disciplines, then an expert from that field should take part in the debate rather than himself.

"The question could simply refer to common opinion – do people on the street believe that Mormonism is Christianity? But then the matter would be in better hands among the pollsters," Mohler commented.

The Baptist theologian's clarification of the debate was in response to Card's challenge in his first blog of "Who Gets to Define 'Christian'?"

Still, as debate spectators noted, Card's latest response was also not based on Christian orthodoxy or theology but rather on general logic.

"Did you intend to walk out of the original debate? did," wrote a person identified as "Dal" in the blog's comment section. "It's nice and all that you posted a very qualified…essay, but it really isn't that relating to the topic at hand. Please qualify the question 'Are Mormons Christian' instead of qualifying your intended agenda."

In addition, the Mormon defender also wrote extensively on former Massachusetts governor and presidential contender Mitt Romney, praising him as a faithful family man and a devoted religious follower that even evangelical Christians could be proud of.

"What I find myself puzzled by, as an evangelical Christian, is Mr. Card's penchant for skirting the issue and speaking in generalities, of spending so much time on Mitt Romney, etc," commented another spectator.

"That said, the issue is not, 'is Mitt Romney a good guy', or 'are Mormons moral, ethical people,' or anything like that; it's simply, what does the Bible teach, and how does the Mormon church stack up with its teachings?"

Card concluded by calling on Mohler to accept Mormons as Christians, despite their theological differences, based on their merits done in Jesus name.

"But just as the Catholic Church has accepted Mormon help in serving the poor in the name of Christ, and just as ordinary Republican Mormons have found it in their hearts to accept me, a Democrat, as if I might be a real Mormon all the same," wrote Card.

"I wish Dr. Mohler would take the tiny, tiny step of saying, not that Mormons are right, but that a person can believe as a Mormon does and still do good works in the name of Christ, that would be acceptable to Christ by that clear, bright standard: Even as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

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