Response Page | Offenders for a Word

Is Mormonism Christian? An Investigation of Definitions

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in ratlier a scomlul tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean~neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, which is to be master~that's all."1

THEOLOGIANS DO NOT, generally, ask other theologians if they are heretics. Most people are too well aware of the subjective nature of such designations to rely on a person's self-description in this manner. Very few men and women, we all realize, would choose to describe themselves as "heretics" or "heterodox," except perhaps in an ironic vein. On the other hand, we routinely ask--cettainly we can at least imagine ourselves asking--whether some living or historical person is a Christian, or a Jew, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim. Hospital admission forms and military induction papers, to choose two illustrations from among many, commonly ask for precisely such information, just as they inquire about weight and home address and full name. Furthermore, we seem to expect that the answer given to this question~"Of what religion are you?" conveys objective truth, that it depends not on the position and preferences of some other individual or group of individuals empowered to accept or reject it, but on the simple, straightforward facts of the case. If the patient in Room 3458 has identified herself as Catholic, a priest will be called in when necessary. If Private Roth says he is a Jew, that fact will be noted on his dog tags. We do not see these matters as subject to debate or prey to controversy, any more than we would normally consider weight, home address, or full name questions for dispute. That Isaac Newton was a Christian seems as objectively valid a judgment, and as universally acceptable a claim, as that he formulated the laws of gravity or lived in early eighteenth-century England.

There are voices today, however--insistent and often loud voices who would make of the designation "Christian" a judgment no more objective, no more universally acceptable and agreed upon, than the verdict of "heresy." Indeed, these accusing voices would apply the terms "heretic" and "non-Christian" according to rules of their own choosing, making them virtual synonyms. This is strikingly evident in the recent fashion, among certain circles, of denying that Mormonism is Christian.2 There are probably few Latter-day Saints who have not, at one time or another, been told--usually to their considerable surprise--that they are not Christians. Indeed, a large and well financed campaign has been underway for several years to convince the general public that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, despite its unwavering identification of itself as Christian, does not deserve and cannot lay claim to that title. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of fundamentalist and other conservative Protestants in the United States and abroad are working desperately to alert mankind to the dangerous "Satanic nature of the Christ-denying cult of Mormonism."3 Of course, these critics would not gladly admit that their denial of Mormon Christianity rests upon subjective grounds; they claim instead to issue their judgment on the basis of cold, hard, objective facts, submitted to rigorous, value-neutral analysis.

The campaign of which we speak is a literal one and not merely our own sensationalistic metaphor. It has its rallies, its enthusiastic volunteers, and its professional organizers and cheerleaders. It uses all the media of print, radio, and television to publicize its point, and has produced a flood of newspapers, pamphlets, newsletters, and books. Some few years ago, for example, a Houston-based organization seeking contributions to fund a "Christian" radio station in Provo, Utah, published a pamphlet entitled "KEYY: A Missionary Opportunity." Attempting to arouse its audience to the magnitude of the challenge posed by Mormonism, the pamphlet announced that "there are seven . . . counties in Utah with no known Christians! (There are more Christians per capita in India than in the State of Utah.) . . . This is an amazing opportunity to penetrate the darkness!"4

On 25 July 1986, the vocal anti-Mormon J. Edward Decker and a contingent of his followers even attempted to present a petition to leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, demanding that Mormons cease calling themselves Christians. (Unfortunately for the Deckerites, Church offices were closed for the long Pioneer Day weekend. Richard Baer, one of Decker's lieutenants, was finally able to deliver the petition on 8 August l986.) Nearly 21,000 people had signed the petition by that date, and the drive was intended to continue.

Ed Decker and his friends do not, of course, seriously expect the Latter-day Saints or their leaders to "concede" that they are not Christians. (Church spokesman Jerry Cahill, asked what would be done with the petition and its accompanying documents, replied rather cryptically: "They will receive the attention they deserve, I suppose.") The effort, therefore, seems to have had one or both of the following goals: (a) to generate publicity for the accusation that Latter-day Saints are not Christians, or (b) simply to embarrass the Mormon Church.5 The latter aim would not be out of character Decker also actively fomented hostility toward Mormons in connection with construction of Brigham Young University's Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. He made at least one lengthy visit to Israel for that purpose, and the co-author of his book The God Makers, Dave Hunt, was the centerpiece of a Jerusalem press conference where representatives of eight denominations denounced Mormons as non-Christians. Of this latter episode, the long-time Israeli Jewish mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, has tellingly observed that the anti-Mormon "attitude was less than Christian."6 And, indeed, the claim that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not Christian is frequently advanced with a passion and a vehemence that can shock unsuspecting Mormons hearing it for the first time. Speaking of what he calls "this sinister subject," William C. Irvine, for example, does not mince words: Mormonism is "a fountain of slime. "7

While, in the view of these religious enthusiasts, Mormonism is a positive evil, its sinister nature is well concealed. Kenneth Boa, an active crusader against dissenters from mainstream Protestantism, declares Mormonism to be "one of the most effective counterfeits of biblical Christianity ever devised."8 In The Utah Evangel, Mormonism is described as a 'vicious imitation."9 It is "devious" and "dishonest,"10 and Mormons are "dupes."11 "Dr." Walter Martin, the indefatigable "cult"-watcher, wrote of the Latter-day Saints that "they have not in the past hesitated to employ deception in their effort to mimic orthodox Christianity."12 More recently, "Dr." Martin revealed to his disciples that "Mormonism strives with great effort to masquerade as the Christian church."13 Its army of missionaries is a vital concomitant of this vast lie: they merely "pose as Christians."14 But the deception does not restrict itself to missionaries: Even a former Secretary of Education, Latter-day Saint Terrell H. Bell, in an invited presentation to the student body of Rev. Jerry FaIwell's Liberty Baptist College, was only "posing as an exponent of the Christian faith."15

What is it, according to their adversaries, that Mormons have to hide? Why would they be so careful to dissimulate and mislead? Harold Lindsell is far from alone in reporting that the Latter-day Saints are actually pagans.16 "When the Mormons opened their new temple . . . in Dallas," reported Kenneth L. Woodward in Newsweek, "visitors were hounded by fundamentalists . . . who waved placards proclaiming, 'Welcome to America's Newest Pagan Temple.' "17

Confronted with such hostility, and with charges that seem to come from out of nowhere, most Latter-day Saints, understandably, are at a loss for a reply. One sometimes suspects, in fact, that certain militant fundamentalist mindsets tend to see paganism everywhere--reflecting, perhaps, a deep-seated psychological alienation from the world and from society that goes beyond what any Christian ought to feel as "a stranger and a pilgrim." Bob McCurry, for example, calls upon Christians to shun the "demonic" institution of Halloween.18 Other examples could he provided without difficulty, but two will serve: Early in 1992, many newspapers carried a wire service story that offers a particularly extreme illustration of such attitudes, telling of a man whom an Indianapolis Municipal Court convicted of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, for toppling and smashing a limestone monument on the statehouse lawn. The monument had been inscribed with the Ten Commandments. But, not, it would seem, with the Ten Commandments in precisely the form to which this gentleman was accustomed. To quote the newspaper account, the man's "defense was civil disobedience. He argued that the monument in question amounted to state endorsement of a pagan religion. He said the version of the commandments inscribed on the monument was a heretical one that lacked the Second Commandment's forbiddance [sic] to make graven images. He has said Indianapolis is loaded with graven images that depict ancient gods and goddesses."19 And Ellen Goodman, in a nationally syndicated 1986 newspaper column, reported on a lawsuit in Greenville, Tennessee, brought by twelve "Christian" parents against the public schools: "The parents object to the tale of 'Goldilocks.'. . . They object to the dance around the burning wolf in 'The Three Little Pigs' because it promotes witchcraft. . . . A seventh-grade reader called on children to use their imagination, 'the poweiful and magical eye inside your head.' This, said [one parent], was an 'occult practice.' " "The objections these parents raise," wrote Ms. Goodman, "are easily the stuff of parodies." Unfortunately, however, they represent very much the mentality of many anti-Mormons. "In a chilling piece of testimony, [the mother who is the leader of the parental group] said that her religious belief did not allow for religious tolerance. 'We can not be tolerant of religious views on the basis of accepting other religions as equal to our own.' "20

Most non-fundamentalists, though, including many who profess to be Christians, have somehow managed to miss the occultism of "The Three Little Pigs." Even among fundamentalists, probably only a minority recognize in Halloween a demonic threat to their children, or fear imagination as a form of sorcery. More to the point, the Latter-day Saints have generally seemed to their neighbors to be decent, moral, religious people. Few Christians, even, have seen through the quiet, clean, religious Mormon exterior to the horrendous evil that, their critics declare, lies at Mormonism's heart. Hence the pressing need for the current campaign against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The public must be warned.

How have the Mormons managed to succeed in their fiendish ruse thus far? For many fundamentalist critics, the answer is quite simple. They are deceivers, says Dave Breese.21 Mormonism "use[s] the language of the Holy Scripture to hide its true character."22 It projects a deliberately confusing and "filmy coat of pseudo-Christian testimony. "23 Even the Articles of Faith are "deceptive," "hid[ing] heretical Mormon doctrines behind Christian terminology."24

But what is the purpose of such a "cleverly designed counterfeit of the Christian religion"? What is the goal of "the Mormon masquerade" ?25 Predictably, "Dr." Walter Martin knows. It is "cult infiltration."26 The Latter-day Saints are attempting to insinuate themselves into Christianity in order to destroy it. For Mormonism is not merely non-Christian, it is "anti-Christian."27 The relationship between Mormonism and Christianity is adversarial.28 "To trust in Mormonism is to reject Christ."29 Thus, there is a "deadly poison behind the honeyed words"30 which Mormons use to conceal their deep "contempt for Christians."31 John Henry Yount, in a pamphlet addressed to blacks, sounds this chilling alarm: "After a century-and-a-half of ripping-off white people and sending them to a Christless eternity, Mormonism is coming after you."32 in the view of these anti-Mormons, it is likely that the Antichrist will be a Mormon.33 "If Christianity is the thesis," writes Rick Branch, "then Mormonism must be its antithesis."34

After enduring hundreds of pages of our "experts" in the course of our research for this book, however, we wonder who has contempt for whom. Walter Martin, for example, alludes to the "blatant chicanery" of the Unity School of Christianity and calls it "a monstrous farce." Those who accept the claims of Mary Baker Eddy are, he says, "her zealous lackeys." Jehovah's Witnesses are "arrogant." Martin is also extremely sarcastic about the story of Mormonism. "The general story of how Smith received his 'revelation' is a most amusing piece of fantasy," he writes, "and would be occasion for genuine laughter were it not for the tragic fact" that so many people believe it. And, he says, in order to believe it Mormons have to be egomaniacs. Likewise, Martin's treatment of Christian Science displays deep sexism, and his chapter on Father Divine is appallingly racist. He ridicules "cultists" generally, speaking, for instance, of "their manifestly feeble powers of logical thought." In fact, when he says of Jehovah's Witnesses that they "vilify and condemn all religious opponents as 'enemies of God' and perpetrators of what they term 'a racket,' " Walter Martin is very accurately describing what was, until his death in 1989, his own operation. He could seldom bring himself to grant the sincerity of those whom he attacked, and he could never grant their intelligence.35

G. H. Fraser adopts much the same tone. He caricatures Mormon beliefs on the afterlife, and then cites his own caricature to show that Mormons "have never been able to visualize a heavenly scene where the blessed are more than heavenly unemployed in a land of eternal sex." The Latter-day Saints hold their ludicrous, unscriptural beliefs because they don't understand English grammar. Elsewhere, approvingly citing earlier writers, he remarks that "Mormons, as a people, have never possessed . . . a modicum of common sense." Fraser is unwilling even to grant the legitimacy of Latter-day Saint religious impulses, declaring that "the Mormons have never displayed any of the graces of religion in their migrations and settlements." At still another place, he denies that there was any religious persecution of the Mormons, and points to their own obnoxious behavior as justification for what bad treatment they did receive.36 He thus whitewashes one of the great blots on American history, in what must rank as a classic illustration of blaming the victim. (Those who make similar arguments with regard to Hitler's attempted extermination of the Jews are generally termed anti-Semites. Yet Fraser's book is highly thought of among anti-Mormons.)

But we must leave such quibbles, and return to the alleged duplicity of the Latter-day Saints. We have remarked that most Christians seem to have been taken in by Mormon attempts to disguise the paganism of their religious beliefs. Fortunately, the "experts" are not fooled by such Mormon craftiness. "Orthodox Christianity," reports James Spencer, "agree[s] unanimously that the Mormon Church [is] a non-Christian cult."37 Certain strains of anti-Mormonism (perhaps in an effort to forestall the obvious and important question of what Mormons are if they are not Christian) have pronounced them to be "the Islam of America."38 J. R. van Pelt, on the other hand, imagines that "the Mormon conception of deity rather resembles that of Buddhists"39--although, given the utter absurdity of the comparison, it does not surprise us that he provides no support for his assertion. More recently, it has become fashionable among anti-Mormons to call the object of their attacks Hindus, or even Satanists.40 The wild variety which characterizes these comparisons--is an Islamic Hindu Buddhism even remotely conceivable?--reminds one strongly of the tale of the blind men and the elephant.41

Tiring of the attempt to place Mormonism in the context of world religions--an attempt for which they have no real competence, and which is, anyway, intended only to stamp Mormonism as non-Christian--a vocal faction of anti-Mormons has come to prefer the "Satanist" identification advanced most loudly in recent times by J. Edward Decker.42 This view of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints represents perhaps one of the first real innovations in anti-Mormon writing since Eber D. Howe's 1834 Mormonism Unvailed. Not content to repeat the standard claims that Mormonism is false, adherents of this school of anti-Mormonism assert that at least some of the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know full well that it is false, and that they are conscious worshipers of Lucifer. Rather than denying the reality of supernatural events in the founding of Mormonism, these anti-Mormons admit them--but declare them to have been Satanic. Of the Mormon priesthood, Decker writes: "Its origin is a lie and its power is the power of priestcraft, and its author is Satan."43

Some Mormons have responded to such accusations by declaring their own deep feelings about Jesus, and by pointing to beliefs and practices that, they feel, demonstrate that they are Christians.44 This response has left their detractors generally unmoved.45 "The Mormon and the Christian worship at entirely different altars," asserts Ed Decker, "with doctrines and 'gospels' that fully separate the one from the other. "46

Perhaps the charge that Latter-day Saints are non-Christians requires a different approach. By struggling to justify themselves to their detractors, Mormons have sometimes come dangerously close to recognizing the claim implicit in much anti-Mormon literature--that the title of "Christian" somehow belongs to fundamentalist Protestants, and that it is theirs to bestow or withhold. Yet, as will be shown in what follows, this is at best a dubious claim, Latter-day Saints are not the only people who are surprised and puzzled by it. Lloyd J. Averill, for instance, the author of a useful volume entitled Religious Right, Religious Wrong, explains that he wrote his book for mainstream Christians who are "especially troubled" by fundamentalism's "claim of exclusive rights to the Christian name."47 Further, the assertion that they alone are Christians is rendered even more doubtful by the fundamentalists' refusal to recognize the flimsy--indeed, often paradoxical--grounds upon which that claim is based.

We reject in the strongest possible way the false declaration that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is non-Christian. We declare, in the strongest words that we can find to do so, that Mormons are Christian, and that Mormonism is a Christian faith. The words of the ancient Book of Mormon prophet Nephi express the feelings of today's Latter-day Saints, both leaders and ordinary members of the Church: "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

In debating the contention of our critics that we are really not Christian at all, we rely upon the social nature of words and of language, according to which meanings and usages are rarely if ever dictated by a single person or even by a single faction. A couple of illustrations should serve to make clear what we mean

. In order to determine the semantic range of a given term, to understand its meaning, compilers of dictionaries do not engage in solitary meditations in their studies. They do not ponder the etymology of the term and then decide what it ought to mean. Instead, they survey as exhaustively as possible the way the term is actually used. They realize that it is a linguistic community as a whole which determines the character of a language and the meanings of the words within that language.

Every human baby born into a human community inherits a language that has existed before his or her birth and will presumably exist after his or her death. Much of that baby's education, from infancy through maturity (or even through graduate school), will consist in learning the language of its culture (and of its subculture). This is not an entirely passive process, for the growing child will be able to produce its own sentences and to produce its own thoughts--perhaps even to frame sentences and think thoughts that the world has never before known. But its liberty is set within limits, constrained by the social character of language. The child may limit itself to purely conventional use of language--e.g. "Hand me the sugar, please"--or may come to write poetry, like that of Gerard Manley Hopkins, in which the conventional rules of usage and meaning are stretched and refreshed. But individual human beings can never wholly liberate themselves from conventional grammar and meaning except at the cost of becoming unintelligible to those around them. To say "Globe he chair the" is to use ordinary English words in such a bizarre way and, apparently, at such a distance from recognized signification, as to speak mere gibberish. To use "book" for "boat," or to mean "amoeba" by "symphony," is to put an end to communication--at least until someone manages to decode the speaker's private language.

It is our contention that there exists a fairly coherent basic meaning to the term "Christian" and its lexical equivalents in other languages, a meaning that can be traced throughout, and illustrated by, a long and richly documented history. Since this meaning is well established, latecomers have only a very limited ability to alter it, much in the same way that the new-born infant possesses only a constrained freedom in using its received language. To use the word "Christian" in a new and different sense is to limit communication--or even to mislead--until outsiders are able to decode and understand that new and different usage.

We shall survey the way the word "Christian" has historically been used, and shall argue that the historic meaning of the term is clearly broad enough to include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as fundamentalist anti-Mormons. We shall also contend that attempts to redefine the term have thus far failed to create a new definition that, in excluding Mormons, would not also exclude millions of people, past and present, commonly regarded as Christians.

Notably, we shall discover that the Roman Catholic Church--no insignificant part of what ordinary speakers and writers think of when they use the word "Christian" --is sublect to many of the same arguments as are the Latter-day Saints, and prey to a very similar intolerance. Mainstream Protestant writer Lloyd Averill, for instance, who has listened to fundamentalist denunciations of Mormons and Roman Catholics, hears in them "frustration, outrage, desperation, and latent violence."49 Let us note here just a few of the rhetorical similarities. Bob Witte has devoted an entire pamphlet, "Mormonism: The $3.00 Bill of Christianity," to the metaphor of other-people's-religion-as-counterfeit. It is not his metaphor alone, however, for anti-Catholics, too, offer deliverance "from the darkness of a counterfeit religious system."50 Gleason Archer's description of Mormonism as a "dangerous counterfeit of the historic Christian faith" can easily be matched by Keith Green's similar intimations about Roman Catholicism.51 Jimmy Swaggart terms the Church of Rome "a shimmering mirage that lures men to their deaths as they die of thirst . . . that delivers eternal torment instead of eternal life."52 To pick up another common theme, G. H. Fraser seems occasionally to deny that Mormonism is really a religion at all. Rather, it is a giant business scam, hiding behind religion. "The presidents and prophets of the past several decades have been much more prone to receive their revelations from the spirit of Dow-Jones." Indeed, Fraser remarks that, "The names of the two priesthoods are the only element that lends a religious flavor to the structure of the priesthood."53 This, too, can be paralleled in fundamentalist attacks on the Church of Rome: "Our American freedoms," cries Rev. Loraine Boettner, "are being threatened today by two totalitarian systems, Communism and Roman Catholicism. And of the two in our country, Romanism is growing faster than is Communism and is more dangerous since it covers its real nature with a cloak of religion."54 Boettner's refusal to grant the religiousness of Roman Catholicism is paralleled by the refusal of certain other anti-Catholics even to refer to the Roman Catholic Church. To the Rev. Donald F. Maconaghie, as well as to the writers of Chick Publications, there is only "the Roman 'Church,' " or "the Roman Catholic Institution The charge of "paganism," too, is not restricted to Mormons but is directed against Catholics as well.56 The Church of Rome according to one source, is "based on fetishism and sorcery And Jimmy Swaggart argues that the Catholic practice of auricular confession along with many other elements of both doctrine and practice, "has its origins in heathenistic, pagan rituals. "58

The question of whether the Church of Rome is even Christian at all is a big one among fundamentalists. "Catholicism," writes Karl Keating, summarizing the position taken by many of these fundamentalists, "is part Christian, part pagan, and wholly to be rejected."59 And Jimmy Swaggart, at least, is less ambivalent than even Keating's summary would suggest: Catholicism, he says, "is a false religion. It is not a Christian religion."60 "Rome fulfills the prophetic description of the 'Whore' [of Revelation 17] in every way!" scream the advertisements of Chick Publications. "There is nothing 'Christian' about her."61

In the course of this study, in fact, we shall see that the very people who want to run the Latter-day Saints out of Christendom don't have a great deal of affection for most of the rest of their fellow Christians, either. Lloyd Averill does not exaggerate when he speaks of the "refusal of fundamentalists to recognize that anything Christlike is happening outside of the fundamentalist movement," of their extreme and strident rhetoric. We shall see little reason, in the course of the present study, to reject Averill's description of fundamentalism as "ungenerous and unlovely."62

Those who deny that Mormonism is Christian usually imagine that they are doing so on the basis of a standard they find in the Bible. "In order to be a Christian," wrote "Dr." Walter Martin with all the air of a man asking something both simple and self-evident, "one must conform to the Scriptures."63 (Martin's claim raises certain obvious questions from the start: Just how simple and unambiguous are the Scriptures? Must one conform absolutely and in every detail? How much deviance, if any, is allowed before one ceases to be a Christian? Is there only one possible scriptural position? If so, can both Quakers and Presbyterians be Christians? Methodists and Anglicans? Pre-millennialists and post-millennialists?"64 Charismatics and non-charismatics? Fundamentalists, notes Karl Keating, are "convinced ... that the Bible is easy to under- stand, and convinced that all its parts admit but one interpretation and that anyone interpreting differently must be acting in bad faith."65 But we will leave such questions for another place.) What such a rule would mean in practice--" if you do not conform to my reading of the scriptures, you are not a Christian" --is evident from the writings of Martin's fundamentalist ally, Loraine Boettner, who (somewhat incoherently and illogically) informs us that "if the Roman Church were reformed according to Scripture, it would have to be abandoned."66 The best book written against Romanism says Joseph Zacchello, "was not written by a Protestant or by a former priest, but by God. It is the BIBLE."67 We shall first examine whether Scripture provides us with a clear definition of what a Christian is, or what beliefs, he or she must adhere to in order to retain the title. If it does not the anti Mormon case is unintelligible and should be dismissed as having no biblical authority.

1 Carroll (1963): 269.

2 A few examples might include Coe and Coe (1985): 188; Gruss (1980): 17-18; The Utah Evangel 33 (July/August 1986): 1; van Baalen (1983): 159; Whalen (1963): 173; Molland (1959): 355; Decker and Hunt (1984): 82, 246 (cf. on this Scharffs[l986]: 123-24,353-55); Geer, "Who Is This Man ...?"; Martin (1955): 7,51; Martin (1976): 3; disappointingly, Brauer (1971): 575; Spittler(1962): 11-18; Decker (1979): 23, 27-28; Decker, "To Moroni with Love"; Lanczkowski (1972): 208-13. This is to be distinguished from the (much more sophisticated) view, held by some scholars, that Mormonism is somehow post-Christian, that--as the view's foremost contemporary exponent, Jan Shipps, would put it--Mormonism is to Christianity as Christianity is to Judaism. Such a notion is beyond the scope of this study; anyway, its adherents are able simultaneously to hold opinions on the question at issue here, which is whether or not Mormonism is Christian. Significantly, they contradict one another: Shipps (1985) affirms that it is, while Utter (1897) 13-23 (hesitantly), Molland (1959): 348, and Lanczkowski (1972) deny. (It is interesting to note that, in the English edition ot Lanczkowski's work the section dealing with the Mormons has been altogether deleted. Did he have second thoughts about the appropriateness of including the Mormons between Mongols and Muisca religion, or was it the simple fact of the size and relative power of Latter-day Saints in English-speaking countries that daunted the publishers?)

3 The Utah Evangel 33 (May 1986): 3; cf. The Utah Evangel 31 (May 1984): 1. Mormonism is "one of the more virulent strains of American cults"; Martin (1985): 173

4 "KEYY: A Missionary Opportunity," 5 (italics in the original), 8.

5 Salt Lake Tribune (26 July 1986); Salt Lake Deseret News (9 August 1986). Alert readers will recall the Nazi technique of "the Big Lie."

6 KolIek (1990): 78; cf. also "Leader of Anti-Mormon Group Admits He Helped Stir Jews' Furor over Center," Salt Lake Tribune (10 August 1985); "Christian Groups Join in Protest of Mormon Center," Denver Intermountain Jewish News (19 August 1985). This issue resulted in homb threats against Mormon chapels and death threats against individual members of the Church. We have unpublished documentation on file, covering further anti-Mormon efforts to sow discord in Jerusalem.

7 Irvine (1921): 128,133.

8 Boa (1984): 64; cf. P. B. Smith (1970): 52; J.O. Sanders (1962): 111-13

9 The Utah Evangel 31 (March 1984): 2.

10 The Utah Evangel 31 (January 1984): 12, and 31 (March 1984): 6; cf. Decker and Hunt (1984): 246 (vs. Scharffs [1986]: 353). The Book of Mormon is a "sham," declares Martin (1955): 50, "cloaked in the finery of saintly language and masqueraded as divine revelation The book of Abraham according to Decker (1979): 46, is "pure fraud." Mormon belief in the restoration of the priesthood says Fraser (1977): 91, rests on "chicanery" (Boettner [1986]: 266, no amateur in the language of religious disrespect terms Catholic penances and indulgences "clever frauds.") The Utah Evangel 33(July/August 1986) 6, re1ates an anecdote to illustrate the fact that Mormon missionaries are generally liars and suggests that their church trains them thus.

11 See Decker, "To Moroni with Love," 46, and virtually any issue of The Utah Evangel. The Book of Mormon is a "rank fake" (van Baalen [1983]: 162) Mormonism is "a religion built on patent fraud" (Whalen 119631: 173). These facts are self-evident to all but the benighted Mormons.

12 Martin (1976): 29; cf. The Utah Evangel 31 (December 1984): 1, 3. "Dr." Martin was something of an authority on misrepresentation; cf. the discussion of him in Brown and Brown (1984), which gives a certain ironic tang to his accusation, in Martin (1955): 17, that the "cults" project "deceptive veneers of pseudo-scholarship."

13 Martin (1985): 226; cf. Whalen (1963): 157. Theosophy also "masquerades," says Martin (1955): 41. Rather similar charges are made against the Roman Catholics; cf., for example, Whealon (1986): 16-17.

14 Fraser (1977): 10.

15 The Utah Evangel 30 (June 1983): I.

16 Lindsell(1987): 115.

17 Woodward (1985): 65. This is, on the whole, a disappointing article, written with Mr. Woodward's usual incomprehension of what Mormonism is about; cf, A. L. Sanders (1986): 68

18 See McCurry, "The Truth about Halloween."

19 As given in the Salt Lake City Deseret News (29 February 1992), on the basis of a UPI story. The article does not explain, but it seems probable that the monument on the statehouse lawn contained a Catholic version of the Ten Commandments.

20 Salt Lake City Deseret News (21 July 1986).

21 See Breese et al. (1985); cf. Decker (1979): 26, 29; The Utah Evangel 33(July/August 1986): 4; van Baalen (1983): 148, 151; Whalen (1963): 168; at Martin (1955): 53, Mormons are seen as blasphemers. They are out to "deceive the unwary"; The Utah Evangel 33 (May/June 1986): 4, According to Martin (1955): 46 (cf. 74), Mormonism "ensnares" souls; cf. also Decker and Hunt (1984): 157, 208, 230-3l, 236-37, 252 (vs. Scharffs [19861: 213, 270, 331, 341-42, 361-62). Compare the anti-Christian polemicists of the second and third centuries A.D., who were agreed, in the words of Gonzitles (1970): 1:99-100, that "Christians approach only those who are ignorant-that is, women, children, and slaves-for they know that their 'science' would not resist solid refutation." (This is precisely the charge that Decker and Hunt [1984] make against Mormonism; cf. Scharffs's reply [1986]: 341.)

22 Irvine (1921): 128; cf. Fraser (1977): 8, 32. This is typical of "cultists"; cf. Martin (1955): 5, 74.

23 Martin (1976): 30; cf. J. 0. Sanders (1962): 109. Yount, "Black Brother, Black Sister," identifies one Mormon tool as "their slick publications." The deception is, of course, deliberate--certainly on the part of Mormon leaders; cf. Decker, "To Moroni with Love," 46. Cultists are just generally tricky devils. A favorite technique of Jehovah's Witnesses, says Martin (1955): 18, is "bluffing Christians into silence." They deal in "deliberate falsehood" (p.32).

24 The Utah Evangel 33 (May 1986): 6; cf. The Utah Evangel 33 (July/August 1986): 6; The Utah Evangel 34 (May-June 1987): 6; Whalen (1963): 167. Martin (1955): 52, says that the Articles of Faith are "a clever and, I believe, a deliberate attempt to deceive the naive into believing that Mormonism is a Christian religion." Mormons have, says Rowe (1985): 28, a "heretical hidden agenda."

25 Martin (1976): 30, 20.

26 Martin (1976): 31. Decker and Hunt (1984) see Mormonisin as, in the first instance, a subversive, theocratic movement. This is, of course, the view of classical American anti-Catholicism, which is well-represented by the work of Boettner (1986). Boettner's book is, however, much more competently written than is The God Makers.

27 Martin (1985): 213; so, too, The Evangel 37 (October 1990): 12; J. 0. Sanders (1962): 109; van Baalen (1983): 170; Decker and Hunt (1984): 143 (vs. Scharffs 119861: 203). Martin (1955) is generous with this accusation: Jehovah's Witnesses are "anti-Christian" (p. 18) and Charles T. Russell of Jehovah's Witnesses was "a sworn enemy of historical Christianity" (p.24), Theosophy is "anti-Christian" (p 44) and "anti-Biblical" (p.39), Christian Science is "one of the most dedicated enemies of the evangelical Christian faith" (p. S8).

28 Scott (1979): passim; cf. too, Decker and Hunt (1984): 125 (vs Scharffs 119861:181-82).

29 The Evangel 37 (November 1990): 12.

30 J.O.Sanders(1962): 111.

31 The Utah Evangel 31 (March 1984): 6. The charge that Mormon temple ritual mocks Christian clergy was long a favorite among anti-Mormons, sparking, for example, considerable controversy in connection with the dedicatory services for the Denver Temple; cf. Decker and Hunt (1984): 246; but see also Scharffs (1986): 353.

32 Yount, "Black Brother, Black Sister" (emphasis ours). Mr. Yount denounces "the white-racist Mormon leadership" and attempts to align himself with the civil rights movement of the 60s. However, the pamphlet's short sentences and gigantic print would seem to imply a rather different attitude toward his intended audience,

33 See The Utah Evangel 31 (December 1984) and 33 (April 1986); also Decker and Hunt (1984): 229,250 (vs. Scharffs [1986]:15,329, 358). (Do Mormons even come close to fulfilling the criterion of 1 John 2:22 and 2 John 7? Usually, they are accused of viewing the advent of Christ in too-fleshly terms! See below.) Martin Luther's eminent biographer Ronald Bainton notes with great regret the tendency in the Protestant Reformation to identify the Catholic Church and its leaders with Antichrist; ef. Bainton (1950): 330.

34 In The Utah Evangel 3l (January 1984): 12. (Rick Branch is the only Hegelian anti-Mormon we have ever encountered.)

35 In order of citation, the references are to Martin (1955): 78, 80, 64, 18, 49-50, 55, 34, 37, 84-102, 16, 24. Loraine Boettner, whose book is described by Spittler (1962): 117, as "a veritable encyclopedia of evangelical criticism of Romanism," shows his characteristic tone when he says, on p. 253: "To Protestants the whole ex eathedra business appears, on the one hand, as particularly monstrous and vicious, and on the other, as just a big joke--a joke perpetrated on the Roman Catholic people who are so docile and unthinking and so poorly informed as to believe in and submit to such sophistry." We are proud that there exists no comparable literature in Mormonism.

36 In order of citation, the references are to Fraser (1977): 14, 84, 183, 175-88.

37 Spencer (1984): 138. We have tried to show in our essay "Is Mormonasm a Cult?" in this volume, that the term "cult" is so vague, and has been so abused, as to be virtually useless.

38 The Decker petition denying Mormons the name "Christian" asks them to use "New World religion" as a self-designation in its place--whatever that may mean! For recent equations of Mormonism with Islam, see The Utah Evangel 31 (February 1984): 1; Molland (1959): 348; Whalen (1963): 167. The supposed "Islamic connection" was especially popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and deserves a separate study. In many cases, the accusation that Mormons are not Christian seems to reflect the accuser's ignorance of non-Christian religions, which leads him to overstate the differences between Mormonism and traditional Christianity while undervaluing the considerable areas of commonality. To cite an example, one of the authors, in writing to a leader of the southern California Ex-Mormons for Jesus about their denial of his Christianity, suggested that she talk with a Muslim if she wanted to meet a real non-Christian. He was immediately accused of holding a double standard: "How," came the reply, "can you be offended when we call you non-Christian, and then turn right around and call Muslirns non-Christian?!?" Of course, the crucial difference, recognized even by Molland (1959): 348, is that Mormons claim to be Christian, whereas Muslims do not. More on this below.

39 J. R. van Pelt, "Mormons," in Jackson (1977): 8:18; cf. Decker and Hunt (1984): 254 (vs. Seharffs [19861: 364). It will become apparent that Decker and Hunt (1984) seem willing to say almost anything, however inconsistent, if it will damage Mormonism. In recent years, Decker has come under attack from fellow anti-Mormons like Wally Tope and the Tanners for apparently untrue claims that he was poisoned by agents of the Latter-day Saints during a trip to Great Britain.

40 Decker and Hunt are the foremost proponents of the Hindu theory. They arc also among the chief advocates of the Satanist theory--which says something about their view of non-Christian religions! (For them, Hinduism equals Satanism; cf. Decker and Hunt [1984]: 60, 137, 251; contrast Scharffs [1986]:197; cf. Scharffs [1986]: 256.) Of course, it is always difficult to tell how serious Mr. Decker is. On purported Mormon Hinduism, see Decker and Hunt (1984): 28, 32, 60, 250-51, 254, 258 (vs. Scbarffs [19861: 10, 81-83, 101, 358-59, 364, 371). On alleged Mormon Satanism, see Decker and Hunt (1984): 71-78; 105-09; 127-31; 134-35; 138-39; 160-61; 170; 188-92; 208-10; 216, 248-49; 251 (vs. Scharffs [1986]: 31, 48,97, 109-18; 122-23; 133; 145; 148; 155-59; 170; 172; 183-84; 187-91; 196-99; 209219; 228; 249-51; 271-72; 276; 296; 356; 359); cf. also the tract, "Questions for Your Temple Tour." Compare Ed Decker's "The Question of Freemasonry," 7-8; The Utah Evangel 33 (July/August 1986): 4; Fraser (1977): 41, 74. The Utah Evangel 33 (May/June 1986): 2, contains a handy list of etymologies linking Mormonism with Satan-worship. A Deckerite tract entitled "Temple Marriage: Eternal Commitment or Eternal Damnation?" alleges that Mormon temple rituals are really Baul worship; cf. W. Thompson, "What We Should Know about Roman Catholicism." The Prayer Bulletin of Saints Alive in Jesus (December 1984) contains a "Prayer Map" of Utah which presupposes many of Mr. Decker's views on this subject. (These Prayer Bulletins are an excellent--and often amusing-source for Deckerite ideology.) "It has been wisely observed," says Martin (1955): 11, "that the field of apologetics has the depth of the oceans and the breadth of the celestial galaxies." However, one will search in vain in his writings for any evidence of such broad sympathy and deep erudition. In a discussion of Unity's denial of trinitarianism, for example (Martin [19551:75), he characterizes their position as one of "abject pantheism." To use such an adjective to describe one of the most venerable and philosophically significant of theological viewpoints speaks eloquently of Martin's provincialism.

41 Van Baslen (1983): 151, sees in Mormonism a pastiche of "Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, Fetishism, Communism, Manichaeism, Campbellism, and others." Whalen (1963): 157, recognizes "paganism, Judaism, Christianity, Swedenborgianism, Spiritism, and Campbellism." (Alas for the Camphellites!) Whalen (1963): 158: "That the hodgepodge of heresies which is Mormonism can produce such results is a continual source of amazement. Indeed. Yet, as J. L. Smith admits in The Utah Evangel 33 (July/August 1986): 8, "this untenable, inconsistent, groundless, illusive hodgepodge of tenets . . . has enslaved millions since its inception more than 150 years ago."

42 Not all anti-Mormons accept Decker's "Satanist" theories. Jerald and Sandra Tanner (1988) sharply attack Decker and his sidekick Bill Schnoebelen on this issue, and the Tanners continue to raise serious questions about Decker's integrity. The "New Age anti-Mormonism" of Ed Decker and his associates is discussed by Peterson (1991): 231-60, in his critique of Loftes Tryk's The Best Kept Secrets in the Book of Mormon.

43 Decker, "To Moroni with Love," 47. Decker and Hunt recognize Mormonism as a spiritual movement, albeit one with demonic roots. Of course, one of their major subtheses also has it that the Latter-day Saint Church is a Satan-led political conspiracy. For a close parallel to their view of Mormonism, compare the N .I. C. E. in C. S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength.

44 The book by Wells (1985), for example, and the article by Weyland (1985), are largely of this character. On the other hand, the approach taken by Forrest, "Are Mormons Christian?" resembles our own, although on a smaller scale. Eugene England's essay, "What It Means to Be a Mormon Christian," found in England (1984): 173-90, is superb and even moving.

45 After all, as The Utah Evangel 31 (March 1984): 2, points out, Mormons are "wolves in sheep's clothing."

46 Decker, "To Moroni with Love," 4. Carver (1983) is a fairly effective reply to Mr. Decker's pamphlet.

47 Averill (1989): xiii.

48 2 Nephi 25:26.

49 Averill (1989): 107. The Salt Lake City Deseret News for 7 August 1988 reported the case of a passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Greenville, South Carolina, who had to be subdued after he slammcd a stewardess to the floor and threatened to "kill everyone who is not a born-again Christian."

50 Dunlap, "Alex Dunlap Answers Roman Catholic Priest " 2.

51 Sec Archer's "Translator's Prcface" to the (historically worthless) Ahmanson (1984): 8; Green (1984b).

52 Swaggart (1985b): 35.

53 In order of citation, sec Fraser (1977): 19, 88, 152, 87. In this position, too, Fraser has allies in Decker and Hunt (1984). With remarkable inconsistency, considering their claim that Joseph Smith was a Hindu, they dcscribe him on p.159 as "a classical humanist atheist"; contrast Scharffs (1986): 372.

54 Compare Boettner (1986): 3. Rev. Boettner further denies that Catholicism is really a religion at pp.32, 64, and 460; but see p. 450. This book went into its 25th printing in March 1986. It is an Evangelical Book Club selection, and was specially highlighted in the big California "Christian" bookstore where we bought it. Keating (1988) terms it "the 'Bible' of the anti-Catholic movement within fundamentalism" (p. 28), and describes Loraine Boettner as "the intellectual godfather of modern fundamentalist anti-Catholicism" (p. 291). In other words, much as we wish it were otherwise, we are not citing a fringe figure.

55 See the newsletter of The Conversion Center (May/June 1990); Chick Publications February 1990 Retail Catalog, 28.

56 Against Catholics: Zacehello (1984): 14-16, 91; Ironside (1982): 23; W. Thompson, "What We Should Know about Roman Catholicism"; Boettner (1986): 10, II, 13, 23-24, 53, 55, 90, 256, 272, 274, 286, 292-93, 455, 459-60. Martin (1955): 45, so views Theosophy-but it is not certain that Theosophy ever aspired to be called Christian.

57 Boettoer (1986): 288-89

58 Swaggart(1985a):41; cf. 38.

59 Keating (1988): 154; cf. 16.

60 Keating (1988): 90; cf. 93.

61 Chick Publications February 1990 Retail Catalog, 31.

62 Averill (1989): 77, xiv. On p.52, Averill quotes evangelical Edward J. Carnell, former president of Fuller Theological Seminary, as lamenting that fundamentalism "sees the heresy in untruth but not in unloveliness." On fundamentalist rhetoric, see pp 46-51.

63 Martin (1955): 41. Such a proposition is itself meta-scriptural. It is nowhere to be found in the canon. The New Testament never says what is required to be a Christian, and, as we shall see, does not define the term.

64 Averill (1989): 140-41, offers examples of the varied interpretations of future prophecy offered by fundamentalists--each interpreter claiming to possess the absolute, indisputable truth.

65 Keating(1988): 102.

66 Boettner (1986): xii.

67 Zacchello (1984): vii. Emphasis his He is (or, at least, claims to be) a former priest.