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The Historical or Traditional Exclusion

by Stephen E. Robinson

Modern Christian orthodoxy often sees itself as properly consisting of not only the events and doctrines revealed in the New Testament but also the historical, theological, and traditional developments of later centuries. It is sometimes argued that in order to be truly Christian modern churches must accept both biblical Christianity and the traditional Christianity that grew out of it. This, in a nutshell, is the historical exclusion. If one does not accept the centuries of historical development and elaboration--the councils, creeds, and customs, the theologians and the philosophers--in addition to the biblical doctrines, then one is not a true Christian. According to this view the biblical revelation taken alone is inadequate for true Christianity.

This type of exclusionary thinking is illustrated by an incident that occurred to me while I was in graduate school. I had been invited by one of the large Protestant churches in town to teach a lesson on the beliefs and practices of the Latter-day Saints. Some of my professors were members of that church, and I was very pleased when they attended my lecture. At the end of the lesson I bore testimony to the restored gospel, to the divine call of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and most of all to the saving work of Jesus Christ.

When I was done one of my professors raised his hand and said, "Well, Steve, that was wonderful and informative, but I think you have left us with the incorrect impression that you Mormons are a Christian denomination, when, of course, you are not." Now, I knew this man fairly well, and consequently I knew what he meant by this statement. It was not a malicious pronouncement, but it had absolutely nothing to do with what Latter-day Saints believed or didn't believe about Jesus Christ. The man was a liberal Protestant historian, and his definition of the term Christian was a historical definition; it had nothing to do with personal belief. To him a Christian was someone whose theological family tree could be traced back through the Protestant Reformation, through the Roman Catholic church, and through the ecumenical councils to the first council of bishops at Nicaea in A.D. 325. His definition had very little to do with what one believed; it was more concerned with how one came by that belief. In his view, if your theology had the right pedigree you were a Christian; if not, though you might believe every word of the New Testament, you were still not a true Christian, because your intellectual and theological genealogy were all wrong.

As a liberal Protestant historian this professor had additional incentives for defining Christian in terms of heritage rather than belief, for, as I knew from private conversations with him, he did not personally believe most of the supernatural claims of the primitive Christian church. If "being Christian" was a matter of heritage rather than of personal belief, he could still claim the title "Christian" as his own, even though he did not believe the historical claims of the New Testament.

Thus, being aware of the background of this professor and his views, I understood what he meant when he said, "Mormons aren't Christians," but I also was aware that the congregation did not understand his meaning correctly. To them it sounded as if he were denying that the Latter-day Saints believed in Jesus Christ. And so for their benefit I initiated the following exchange:

"Do you personally believe that Jesus Christ was the literal Son of God, that he had no mortal father?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "not literally."

"Do you believe in the divinity of the historical Jesus?"


"Do you believe that Jesus had the power to perform miracles?"


"Do you believe that he took upon him the sins of the world in some literal way, as a real transfer of real guilt?"


"Do you believe that in some literal way Jesus died for us?"


"Do you believe in the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus?"


"Do you believe in a final judgment?"


"Do you believe in an afterlife at all?"

"I think so."

"And are you a Christian?"

"Of course I am."

"How can you say that?"

"Because I accept the New Testament as containing God's word, even though I do not interpret it literally, and because I am an ordained minister in a denomination that traces its Christian heritage back to the New Testament period without a historical break."

"All right, now, as a Latter-day Saint I believe that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God; that he was and is divine; that he had the power to work miracles; that he took the sins of the world upon him in Gethsemane and on Calvary; that he died for us; that he was literally, bodily raised up on the third day; and that he will raise us up to judgment and a glorious afterlife. Now, am I a Christian?"

"Absolutely not."

"Why not?"

"Because you are a member of a church that is not theologically derived from and dependent upon the councils and creeds of the historical church, and because you reject traditional Christianity and its theology after the second century."

"Does your definition of 'being Christian' have anything to do with my personal belief in Jesus Christ?"


Now, when it was laid out like this, the congregation could see that the man was using a specialized definition of the term Christian, and consequently that he was not really saying what they had at first thought. After the lecture several people approached me to say that according to how they defined "being a Christian," the Latter-day Saints certainly qualified, but that they weren't so sure anymore about the professor.

To the extent that the historical exclusion offers a specialized or nonstandard definition of Christian, it is merely another form of the exclusion by definition and suffers from the same fallacy (see chapter 1 herein}. The historical exclusion, however, involves additional considerations that ought to be examined here.

The Great Apostasy

First of all, it should be noted that the Latter-day Saints do reject the authority of traditional Christianity after the death of the New Testament Apostles. In the LDS view the keys and authority promised to Peter in Matthew 16:16 were apostolic in nature, and therefore when the Apostles were gone, so were their keys and authority. Thereafter, people could still be "Christian" in the generic sense, and are not, in the LDS view, automatically excluded from salvation (there will be opportunities to accept the gospel in the postmortal life); but the historical church no longer possessed the fulness of the gospel. This is the LDS doctrine of the Great Apostasy, a doctrine which is also taught in the New Testament. Following are two examples from the teachings of Paul:

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [Greek apostasia] first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5.)

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:29-31.)

These passages, and others that might be cited,1 tell us not only that Paul was concerned about an inevitable coming apostasy, but also that he spent a great deal of energy warning the Church about it. It is the LDS belief that such an apostasy actually took place and that the keys and authority of the Apostles were lost. For this reason Latter-day Saints reject the binding authority of subsequent developments in historical Christianity. (See Restoration of the Gospel home page)

Christians with Similar Views

It is surprising that Protestants would criticize the Latter-day Saints for believing in an apostasy and rejecting subsequent developments, since Protestants have essentially done the same thing--only instead of rejecting the authority of the traditional church after the first century, they reject it after the fifteenth. Protestant Reformers used many of the same Bible passages cited above to prove that the Roman church was corrupt and to justify their own attempts at reform. Martin Luther and others went so far as to identify the pope as the Antichrist.2 If some Protestants argue that Mormons aren't Christians because they reject the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), couldn't Catholics argue that Protestants aren't Christians because they reject the Council of Trent (A.D. 1545-47)? The issue here does not involve a difference in kind but only of degree or of timing. Thus, in terms of the doctrine of an apostasy--that is, that at some point in time the historical church was no longer the true Church--most Protestants agree with the Latter-day Saints in principle; they just differ on the dates.

Most Protestants accept as doctrinally valid and binding only the first seven of the great ecumenical councils, the last of which, the Second Council of Nicaea, was held in A.D. 787.3 Greek Orthodoxy formally rejected the authority of the Western church in A.D. 1054, although their differences began long before this date. Six centuries earlier Armenian, Syrian, Coptic, and Abyssinian Christianity all rejected the "great church" at the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451), and have been separate churches ever since; hence we might ask, If the historical exclusion is applied to these "orthodox" churches--which accept only three of the twenty-one ecumenical councils--can they still be considered Christians? And if the Armenians, Syrians, Abyssinians, and Copts can reject everything in traditional Christianity from the fifth century on and still be Christians, then where is the cutoff that marks how much can be rejected? If it can be as early as the fifth century, then why not as early as the second?

Thus some denominations place their break with the traditional church4 at A.D. 451, while others might put it at 787, 1054, or 1517. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong in any of the schisms, in each case somebody was rejecting the authority of a mother church and refusing to be bound by its traditions and doctrines. Yet no one seriously accuses the Armenians, Copts, Syrians, Greek Orthodox, or Protestants of being non-Christian for having done this.

Catholics often think of Protestants as having rejected true Christianity, while Protestants think of themselves as having recovered the true Christianity from which the Roman church had wandered. For the purposes of my argument it doesn't matter who is right; what matters is that while rejecting each other's traditions and doctrines, Protestants and Catholics still call each other Christians in the generic sense. Why, then, cannot the Latter-day Saints, who believe in Jesus Christ and who accept the New Testament witness, also reject later traditions and doctrines without being labeled non-Christian?

A Single Christian Tradition?

Moreover, Protestants differ among themselves in the amount of the accumulated Christian heritage they accept. Many Protestants don't venerate the saints, or observe Lent, or know that Saint Swithin's Day is July 15. Is there some critical percentage of the nonbiblical traditions that must be believed, some specific amount of the accumulated customs that one must accept in order to be a true Christian, so that by accepting 50 percent, say, of the postbiblical material one is a Christian, but not with 49 percent? Or are there certain key nonbiblical traditions that must be accepted, such as observing Easter on the right day, while other trivial traditions may be safely ignored, such as eating fish on Friday? And exactly who decides which customs are dispensable and which ones are not, and by what authority do they do so, if the traditions are admittedly nonbiblical to begin with? Who preserves the real postbiblical "Christian tradition," the Greek Orthodox monks at the Mar Saba monastery or the faith-healing, TV evangelist from Texas?

What exactly is the Christian tradition, and how can Mormons be expected to accept it, when mainline Christians disagree among themselves on virtually every aspect of it? In the words of David Steinmetz, Kearns Professor of the History of Christianity at Duke University: "Christians have argued, often passionately, over every conceivable point of Christian doctrine from the filioque [5] to the immaculate conception. There is scarcely an issue of worship, theology, ethics, and politics over which some Christians have not disagreed among themselves."6

Like the modern Latter-day Saints, the Puritans rejected any practice or custom from the Christian tradition that could not be found in the New Testament. And according to Kenneth Scott Latourette, the Seekers, among them Roger Williams and George Fox,7 "held that Antichrist had ruled so long that no true churches or valid office-holders existed and could not until God sent apostles to establish and ordain new ones.''8 Now, this is very similar to the Latter-day Saint view. Does this make these venerable Protestants non-Christians? Remember, the question here isn't whether their belief was correct; rather, the question is, If the Puritans, Separatists (among them our own Pilgrim Fathers), and Seekers can utterly reject the historical Christian tradition beyond the warrant of the New Testament and still be Christians, why can't the Latter-day Saints?

A Pure Christian Tradition?

Another problem with insisting that one must accept the historical Christian heritage in order to be a Christian is that many of the present traditions and customs in that heritage were originally pagan practices that have been "Christianized."9 The Puritans in colonial America opposed the celebration of Christmas because they could find no biblical warrant for the practice, and attributed it to paganism and "popery."10 Most of the customary symbols of Christmas--such as the Christmas tree, candles, holly, mistletoe, yule log, and so on--were adopted from the pagan religions of northern Europe, and the traditional date for celebrating Christmas was originally that of the pagan Roman festival of Natalis Solis Invicti (the Birthday of the Invincible Sun-god).11

In addition, much pagan influence came into the Christian church in connection with the veneration of the saints. For example, did Saint George really slay a dragon? Most scholars identify his legend with the Baltic and Slavic gods Kalvis and Kresnik, and with the Greek myth of Perseus and Andromeda.12 In many places local Christian festivals, especially those occurring on the solstices and equinoxes, are merely continuations of pre-Christian celebrations now dressed up in Christian trappings; and many a local pagan deity has continued to be worshipped in the guise of a Christian saint, and so has become part of the Christian heritage. Must one, in order to be a true Christian, accept those parts of the Christian heritage that originated in paganism in postbiblical times?

The Doctrinal Tradition

Now, one might respond that it is not the customs and traditions of the historical church that must be accepted after all, but only the doctrines of the historical councils and creeds. But if the councils and creeds teach doctrines not found in the New Testament, on what authority must they be accepted? And if the councils and creeds merely repeat or summarize the doctrines of the New Testament without adding to them, then why is it necessary to accept them in addition to the New Testament itself? Only by making the councils the primary sources of Christian doctrine and the New Testament scriptures secondary can the historical exclusion work, even theoretically. And if other churches argue that it is necessary for Latter-day Saints to accept the councils in order to be Christian, then we might well ask, Which councils must be accepted? How can these other churches themselves accept only three, or four, or seven, and not all twenty-one? In actuality many denominations reject some of the councils for the same reasons that the Latter-day Saints reject them all--because they add to and conflict with the New Testament gospel as the Holy Spirit leads us to understand it.

The Latter-day Saints believe, and modern scholarship agrees, that the theology of the councils and creeds represents a radical change from the theology of the New Testament Church.13 The Latter-day Saints see this change between the first and fourth centuries as part of a great apostasy; scholars refer to it as the Hellenization of Christianity, meaning the modification of the Christian message into forms that would be acceptable in the gentile Greek cultural world. But in that process of modification and adaptation, Christian teaching became Greek teaching, and Christian theology became Greek philosophy. In the LDS view the admixture of Greek elements with the original message of the gospel did not improve it but diluted it. The resulting historical church was still generically Christian, but was no longer the pure, true Church of the New Testament period.

To a large extent the councils were an attempt to reconcile the simple statements of the scriptures with the philosophical requirements of Greek thinking, and to this extent they represent the conversion of Christianity to Hellenism. According to Maurice Wiles, "all Christian thinking, and especially all Christian thinking about the being and nature of God, was influenced, often unconsciously, by philosophical ideas current in the Hellenistic world." 14

Concerning this Hellenization of Christianity, the great Anglican scholar Edwin Hatch noted as early as 1888, in a work that is still a classic, that "a large part of what are sometimes called Christian doctrines, and many usages which have prevailed and continue to prevail in the Christian Church, are in reality Greek theories and Greek usages changed in form and colour by the influence of primitive Christianity, but in their essence Greek still."15

At a later time this adopted Greek element in the Christian tradition would lead to the condemnation of Galileo by the religious authority of the church--not because his theories conflicted with the Bible, but because they conflicted with Aristotle, and no distinction was then being made between Greek philosophy and biblical Christianity. Now, in modern times, though the traditional church has been forced by science to give up its Greek cosmology, it still clings tenaciously to its Greek theology. Hatch insightfully observed:

The habit of defining and of making inferences from definitions, grew the more as the philosophers passed over into the Christian lines, and logicians and metaphysicians presided over Christian churches. The speculations which were then agreed upon became stamped as a body of truth, and with the still deeper speculations of the Councils of Constantinople and Chalcedon, the resolutions of the Nicene Fathers have come to be looked upon as almost a new revelation, and the rejection of them as a greater bar to Christian fellowship than the rejection of the New Testament itself. 16

This is exactly what has happened to the Latter-day Saints. When the historical exclusion is used against them, their acceptance of the New Testament is outweighed by their rejection of the Greek philosophical theology. While rejection of the literal truth of the New Testament witness is seen as a trivial thing or at least as a negotiable issue in many modern Christian denominations, rejection of the philosophical tradition created by the Hellenized church is another matter--that, for the excluders, puts the Latter-day Saints outside the Christian pale. Thus, under the historical exclusion the Latter-day Saints are accused of being "non-Christian" not because they reject the biblical Christ and his church, but because they commit the more serious "sin" of rejecting the philosophers. In much of modern Christianity the message of Christ and the message of Plato have become practically indistinguishable.

One of my revered non-LDS teachers in graduate school, W. D. Davies, once described Mormonism as an attempt to return to Christianity as it was before its Hellenization. 17 While many Protestants attempt to reform Christianity by giving up the papacy and returning to the church of the conciliar period (A .D. 325-787), the Latter-day Saints seek to restore primitive Christianity by giving up Hellenism and returning to the Church of the New Testament period.

In the Roman Catholic Tradition

It is also surprising to me that some Roman Catholic critics have used the historical exclusion against the Latter-day Saints, even though they no longer use it against Protestants, for in some ways Latter-day Saints are closer to the Catholic tradition than most Protestants are. For example, the Latter-day Saints, like Roman Catholics but unlike many Protestant denominations, accept the necessity of all seven traditional sacraments of the Christian church.18 Martin Luther accepted only the Lord's Supper and baptism as Christian sacraments and rejected the sacramental character of the other five.

Moreover, Mormons accept the doctrine of apostolic succession, which is rejected by a majority of Protestants today. This doctrine states that the authority given by Christ to Peter in Matthew 16:19 is necessary to the "true" Christian church and must be handed down in a human chain of persons who hold the keys and preside over the Church. In Catholic terms this person is the Pope; in LDS terms he is the President and prophet of the Church. Catholics trace the authority of the pope through what they consider to be an unbroken line of authority that passes through Peter back to Christ himself. The Latter-day Saints trace the authority of their prophet through what they consider to be an unbroken line that passes through Peter back to Christ himself. Peter is a key figure, the "rock," in both traditions. 19 In both traditions Peter is the link between the present Church and the authority of Christ. Whether Mormons are correct in believing that Peter personally bestowed the keys of apostleship upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery (D&C 27:12) is not the issue. The point is that the theory upon which the LDS claim is based is equivalent to the Roman Catholic view: the keys of apostolic authority must be transmitted to the true Church through Peter by the laying on of hands. The authority to act as God's agent--that is, the priesthood can only be received from someone who already has that authority. Latter-day Saints accept the doctrine of apostolic succession, though our chain has fewer links in it than that claimed by the Roman church. On the other hand, most Protestant denominations deny the need of an apostolic succession at all, and have gone to great lengths to reject the whole concept of divine authority being conferred by ordination.20

Most Protestants believe that the scriptures lead to conversion and that at conversion the Holy Ghost automatically confers all necessary priesthood on the believer. This is the doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers," which looks to the Bible rather than to the church or to the priesthood as the ultimate source of Christian authority, and which denies the historical transmission of priesthood through the Roman church. This is why Protestants are satisfied with a Reformation of the Roman church along scriptural lines; they see authority as an automatic by-product of right belief.

On the other hand, for those who, like the Latter-day Saints and the Catholics, believe in apostolic succession, any break in the chain would require not merely a Reformation, but a Restoration of apostolic authority. Though Catholics do not believe such a break has occurred and Latter-day Saints do, both share a common view of the necessity of apostolic succession and hold similar concepts of priesthood and ordination. Since Protestants have cut themselves off from the apostolic succession of the Roman church and claim no subsequent restoration of authority, they are forced to claim authority on other grounds hence the doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers." As Catholics have known for centuries, the biblical concepts of apostolic keys, priesthood, ordination, and sacraments constitute the Achilles' heel of Protestant theology.

Thus, in the areas of priesthood, ordination, and apostolic succession, the Latter-day Saints are actually more "orthodox" than Protestants, sharing the older, more traditional view with Roman Catholics. Of course, Catholics reject the validity of LDS claims to apostolic succession, just as Latter-day Saints reject the validity of the Catholic succession. But that, in itself, should not cause either to label the other non-Christian, for surely this disagreement is no more serious than the same dispute between Catholics and Protestants generally--and the latter two parties are still willing to refer to each other as Christians. For example, in 1896 Pope Leo XIII declared in a papal bull, Apostolicae Curae, that ordination in the Church of England was invalid, a charge which is extremely irritating to Anglicans.21 Yet Catholics still think of Anglicans as Christians in the generic sense, even though they are, in the Catholic view, outside the apostolic succession. The point is this: If Catholics can still think of Anglicans as generically Christian, even though the pope has declared them to be outside the chain of apostolic authority; or, indeed, if Catholics can think of as Christians those Protestants who reject the idea of succession altogether; then Catholics cannot consistently exclude the Latter-day Saints from Christendom for merely being outside the apostolic succession claimed by the Roman church.

Were the Twelve Apostles Christians?

Finally, by far the most serious objection to the use of the historical exclusion is that it excludes not only the Latter-day Saints but also the New Testament Saints, including Jesus and his Apostles. If it is argued that one must accept the whole package of traditional Christianity in order to be a Christian -- if one cannot merely accept the biblical teachings but must also accept the councils, creeds, and theologians of later centuries--then it is chronologically impossible for Jesus and his church to qualify. Since the New Testament itself, however, refers to the first-century Saints as Christians, by this alone we may know that the historical exclusion is invalid (Acts 11:26; 26:28; I Peter 4:16).

In the book of Galatians, Paul argues that the law of Moses cannot be necessary to Christianity, since Abraham was justified by his faith in Christ four hundred years before the law was even given. Paul further argues that if Abraham could be justified by faith without the law, so could those Gentiles who followed Abraham's example. (Galatians 3:6-18.) This is precisely my argument here. Accepting the councils, creeds, and other traditional elaborations of the New Testament religion cannot be a necessary condition to being a Christian, for the New Testament Christians lived four hundred years before the formulation of the

Nicene Creed at the Council of Chalcedon.22 And if the New Testament Saints could be Christians without the postbiblical traditions, then so can the Latter-day Saints.

One may wish to argue that the Latter-day Saints really don't believe what the New Testament Saints believed, but in that event the objection has shifted ground from a historical exclusion to a doctrinal one, which will be dealt with in a subsequent chapter. There is simply no purely historical or traditional exclusion that will eliminate the Latter-day Saints from the family of Christian churches that does not also eliminate the Saints of the New Testament.


In summary, the historical exclusion is invalid because it proposes a nonstandard definition for Christian, a definition that is based not on one's belief in Christ, but on one's cultural and theological pedigree. Also, it is invalid because it is used selectively against the Latter-day Saints, but not against others who have also rejected the traditional church. Many denominations have rejected all or part of an earlier orthodoxy but are still considered to be Christian. Furthermore, the historical exclusion is invalid because it makes the New Testament inadequate for communicating Christian faith unless it is supplemented by later nonbiblical traditions. But most of all, the historical exclusion is invalid because it proposes a test for being Christian (namely, acceptance of the later historical church with its councils, creeds, and customs) that the New Testament Saints themselves could not have passed, having lived centuries before these things came to be.

(See Response to Criticism home page; General Criticism home page; Are Mormons Christians? home page)


1. For example, 1 Timothy 4:1-3 and 2 Timothy 3:1-7 repeat the Pauline warning. Jude 1: 17-18 informs us that the other Apostles issued the same warning. And 2 Thessalonians 2:7-11; I Timothy 1:15; and 3 John 1:9-10 offer a contemporary witness that the predicted rebellion (apostasy) was taking place already.

2. See, for example, Table Talk, no, 4487 (11 April 1539) in T. Tappert and H. Lehmann, eds., Luther's Works (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1955), 54:346.

3. The Roman Catholic church recognizes twenty-one ecumenical councils, the last of which was the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

4. The term traditional church is used here according to the Western bias. One could just as easily say, using an Eastern bias, that Roman Catholics and all subsequent Protestant denominations rejected the traditional church after A.D. 1054; or one could even adopt the Armenian, Syrian, and Coptic Orthodox viewpoint and insist that the rest of Christendom broke away from the traditional church in A.D. 451.

5. Filioque is a Latin word meaning "and from the Son." Greek Orthodoxy and the Western church disagreed over whether the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father alone, or whether he proceeded from the Father "and from the Son" {filioque). See the discussion in chapter 7 herein.]

6. "Christian Unity: A Sermon by David Steinmetz," News and Notes 5 (April 1990): 6.

7. Roger Willjams was the founder of Rhode Island, and George Fox was the founder of the Society of Friends (or Quakers).

8. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Chn'stianity (New York: Hatper and Row, 1953), p. 818.

9. Francis X. Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1958), notes the pagan connections of Ember Days (pp. 31-32), processions and litanies (pp. 39-40), the Easter water (pp. 162-63), Saint Stephen's Day (pp. 128-29), Epiphany (pp. 141-42), the feast of Saint Valentine (pp. 318-19), the feast of Saint John the Baptist (pp. 329-31), and the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (p. 333). These examples could be multiplied many times over.

10. Cf. Mason I. Lowance, Increase Mather (New York: Twayne, 1974), p. 126.

11. See Weiser, Handbook, pp. 60-63. The occasion, of course, is not pagan, but the customs and methods of celebrating the occasion most assuredly are.

12. See M. Leach and J. Fried, Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend (New York: Hatper and Row, 1972), p. 966.

13. See, for example, J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, rev. ed. (New York: HarpeL 1978), pp. 3-4: "There is an extraordinary contrast, for example, between the versions of the Church's teaching given by the second-century Apostolic Fathers and by an accomplished fifth-century theologian like Cyril of Alexandria."

14. Maurice Wiles, The Making of Christian Doctrine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), p. 28.

15. Edwin Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church (1890; reprint, Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1970), p. 350. 16. Hatch, InfiuenceofGreekldeas, pp. 328-29. For a more recent statement of the same points made by Hatch, see R. P. C. Hanson, "Biblical Exegesis in the Early Church," in The Cambridge History of the Bible, ed. P. Ackroyd and C. Evans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 1:433-34, 449-50.

17. Cp. W. D. Davies, "Israel, the Mormons and the Land," in Refiecn'ons on Mormonism, ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1978), pp. 79, 91.

18. The seven traditional sacraments are baptism, confirmation, penance (confession), the Lord's Supper, marriage, holy orders (receiving the priesthood), and the anointing of the sick (known as "extreme unction" until the change of name made by the Second Vatican Council}. Though they preserve all seven sacraments, Latter-day Saints don't use the term sacrament in the traditional sense.

19. Of course this does not exhaust the meaning of the symbol for Mormons or for other Christians. The "rock" is also Christ ( 1 Corinthians 10:4; Helaman 5:12) and the principle of revelation (see Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 274).

20. See, for example, Marjorie Warkentin, Ordination (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1982), particularly pp. 183,188.

21. See F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2d ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1974), p. 57.

22. See chapter 7, note 1, herein.

Are Mormons Christians?, Chapter 4

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