Dear Pastor Jeffress,

Dear Pastor Jeffress,

How are you? I am fine. While I was at church yesterday, teaching children the ages of 2-11 songs about Jesus, news came out about how you said my religion was not truly Christian. This makes me sad. I believe in Christ, and I think that’s pretty much what one has to do in order to be a Christian. I’ve also been baptized by full immersion, just in case that helps any. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and I even capitalize those words out of respect. So what is it that makes me not a Christian, but allows Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Coptic, Nestorians, Anglicans, and other denominations that aren’t yours to still fit in your definition?

It can’t be the extra books business. Yes, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. We also have a different translation of the Bible. The Catholics have centuries of papal pronouncements that help to give form and shape to their religion. The Copts in Egypt have quite a few extra books in their New Testament, attributed to Mark, which are absent in other denominations’ Bible. The Ethiopians have even more books – their Bible is the largest of any Christian sect, and they claim it is that way because they never endured persecutions such as existed in the Roman Empire. Why, then, don’t we use their Bible? Is it because they’re Black?

Because, Pastor Jeffress, when you were pressed between choosing between either Romney or Obama – who is a Christian by your definition when Romney is not – you unequivocally supported Romney. If this isn’t racism, then it’s confusing and illogical.

How about this, Pastor Jeffress… Maybe, just maybe a group of people in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (emphasis mine) are Christians. You may not agree with everything we teach, but perhaps you would find common ground in our assertion of the divine nature of Jesus Christ, in encouraging our members to take care of each other and our neighbors in the event of disasters “even as the Savior would have done”, how we emphasize reading scriptures, daily prayer, fasting, charitable donations, and in avoiding evil influences.

According to most Protestant theology, accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal Savior is sufficient for salvation. Some will also add in the baptism protocol. That’s it. There’s nothing else in their view that’s required to be Christian. Pastor Jeffress, I’ve done all that. I’m a Christian. I’d much rather share my witness than have to explain over and over again that I have such a witness.

But, yes, Pastor Jeffress… “Mormons” are Christians.

Hope this helps,

Dean Webb

10 thoughts on “Dear Pastor Jeffress,

  1. sarah

    Christians shouldn’t judge other christians on their actions. Also, the mormom beliefs are not in line with Jesus’ teachings which are what make you christian. Catholics aren’t either. Marriage is sacred between one man and one woman and praying to mary is saying she is a god and there is only the Trinity, father son and holy spirit. Worshipping idols is not christian. Putting jesus equal to yourself is definately not Christian!

  2. sarah

    Its not just believing in Jesus, its believing his ways, doing things hoW he says is right!

  3. deanwebb Post author

    Thank you for your comments, Sarah. They give me an opportunity to discuss the matter deeper.

    There are literally hundreds of different Christian denominations worldwide. While I used to be able to say that their primary unifying trait was a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, that’s not even the case in some European congregations. Let me assure you, though, that a core belief of Latter-day Saints is in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

    As for marriage, see our Proclamation on the Family. We do not hold Mary to be divine. Our position on idolatry is consistent with the Second Commandment – we even extend it to include proscriptions against devoting one’s life to pursuits that get in the way of properly raising a family and practicing as Christ taught us.

    As for the equality of Jesus, I’d say it’s definitely Christian. Jesus himself said that if we follow him, we inherit all that the Father has. Jesus is our brother, not our straw boss. He loves us as a brother and he shares his atonement with us as a brother.

    I invite you to observe an LDS faith community – we call them “wards” – and to see for yourself if we live according to New Testament principles. I believe that we do, right down to the way in which we share the gospel.

    In the first century AD, Christ’s church spread through what we call “prophetic” writings. That is to say, the writings of the Church at that time invoke a simple testimony and a witness of the divinity of Christ. There was no logical reasoning – those types of writings show up only after all of the apostles were dead or driven into exile and the types of people that Paul warned about had entered into the church. By the second century AD, we see rival bishops hiring armed gangs to assault each other over philosophical questions. Prophetic writings were no more and the Christian faith had begun to fracture into enclaves based around personalities.

    We believe that we have restored the original nature of Christ’s church in that we do not contend one with another, but we are in harmony in our beliefs. Individuals will dissent, as is always the case, but the dissent does not extend to entire branches of the church. We are one in mind and in spite of having no paid clergy – our services are conducted by lay ministry called up from the membership – we maintain a very high consistency in our doctrine.

    Moreover, we maintain a very high level of friendliness and brotherhood. When I am abroad, I can meet with fellow saints anywhere and be received as warmly as if I was at home. They are my brothers, as Christ taught them to be. I have made a study of religion throughout my life and I can assure you, Sarah, that the LDS Church does indeed follow Christ’s teachings very closely. That’s why I joined the LDS Church and why I’ve stayed on as a member for over 25 years, through all manner of personal trials.

  4. Maggie Austin

    I have never truly known about Mormon faith as I am Baptist but, as I was researching it I saw some differing scriptures. Is it true that you believe that there are more than one God as stated in Abraham 4:3? Is that referring to the Trinity? Also why do you believe that the Trinity is three separate people and not simultaneously one?

  5. deanwebb Post author

    Good questions, Maggie, and the last one hits on one of the key differences between the LDS faith and that of Christendom derived from the Nicene Creed.

    As a formal doctrine, the Trinity did not exist prior to the 4th Century AD. In fact, St. Athanasius admitted to using non-Biblical terms to frame the doctrine, as the scriptures the Nicene Council wanted to use were themselves interpreted by the Arians to support their position. Because the Nicene view later came to be incorporated into the state-run Christianity of the later Roman Empire, any variance from it came to be viewed as an act of treason against the Empire and was punishable by death. Even after the collapse of the Empire, the penalty for denying the Trinity was death.

    Therefore, not many non-Trinitarian sects survived in Europe, even during the Reformation. Isaac Newton, for example, disagreed with the doctrine of the Trinity, but had to keep that view a secret. In the USA, without a state-run church, non-Trinitarian sects could form and not be exterminated. They were persecuted, but not exterminated.

    The Trinitarian doctrine itself arose partly out of criticism from Greek monotheists and Jews. Both insisted that there was only one God, full stop. The early Christian view presents a divine God, Son, and Holy Ghost. All praise and worship is due the Father, but the divinity of others is recognized. This is known as henotheism, many gods with one supreme among them. That also corresponds to the LDS view. Polytheism worships many gods with no supreme one – consider the gods that could defy Zeus and get away with it. In henotheism, that would be impossible.

    Anyway, in order to conform to Greek criticisms that a true church would not have imperfections in its teachings and that any church that didn’t realize the perfection of there being just one god and only one god was faulty, early Christians in the 2nd Century AD and forward began to develop the notion of “one in three, three in one” as a workaround back into monotheism. The argument was rejected by the strict monotheists among the Greeks and Jews, and led to enmity between their sects and early Christians. Mind, now, this is in the logical period of Christianity, the prophetic “take it or leave it” period having ended by 85-95 AD. Certainly, there are no Biblical passages that explicitly state the doctrine of the Trinity: all supporting scriptures have to be interpreted as to have a meaning supporting the Trinity.

    So, yes, LDS theology is at variance with most of Christianity. On the other hand, we’ve never had to sweat over whether a sect was Monophysite or Chalcedonian in its views. Look those up to get an idea of how rife the logical churches were with controversies in the 5th Century forward.

  6. Jack Casey

    Hey Mr. Webb I would have to politely disagree with you on the trinity. There is plenty of evidence, in the bible, to suggest that God does operate within the trinity’s design with Jesus stating that God is his father, but also claims in John 14:7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Jesus makes it quite clear that he is God in these scriptures. All four gospels, Mathew, Mark Luke, John, also back up Jesus’s claims by refering to the Old Testament prophesies, proving him to be the Messiah. While I have not personally read enough of the bible to know for sure that the Old Testament said the Messiah would be God, but even sinners know, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”(Luke 5:21).

    Mr. Webb a christian’s whole entire faith is based on the fact that Jesus is God. If a supreme, omnipotent Judge hands down punishment only that Judge can give the pardon. No authority below Him can overrule overrule the supreme one. I think that’s why people give Mormon’s a hard rap (though they shouldn’t, there’s plenty of things the christian denominations need to change).

  7. Ugochi Ebinama

    I somewhat agree with pastor jeffress that to be a Christian you have to accept the Jesus as your savior, but it also includes obeying the commandments and helping the poor and doing things that are righteous. These are the things that make you a Christian.

  8. Maggie Austin

    The debate between Monophysite or Chalcedonian seems daunting. What are the current Christian denominations stances and have they ever been settled?

  9. deanwebb Post author

    Jack: Sorry, I missed your comment earlier. However, my response will tie in with Maggie’s…

    Jack and Maggie: Basically, the Bible is open to the interpretation of anyone that cares to read it. While a lot of people may want to interpret the Bible in a similar fashion and be a religious denomination, it doesn’t guarantee that everyone will be of one mind. Even within denominations, there are variations. I remember taking a drive through rural North Carolina, where I saw Baptist churches, Freewill Baptist churches, Original Baptist churches, Original Freewill Baptist churches, and United Freewill Baptist churches. I checked the Wikipedia article on Baptists and saw the following sub-denominations:

    Brace yourself…

    Alliance of Baptists · American Baptist Association · American Baptist Churches USA · Association of Independent Baptist Churches of Illinois · Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America · Baptist Bible Fellowship International · Baptist General Association of Virginia · Baptist General Conference · Baptist General Convention of Texas · Baptist Missionary Association of America · Black Primitive Baptists · Central Baptist Association · Christian Baptist Church of God · Church of Christ, Instrumental · Conservative Baptist Association of America · Conservative Baptist Association of the Southeast · Continental Baptist Churches · Cooperative Baptist Fellowship · District of Columbia Baptist Convention · Evangelical Free Baptist Church · Free Will Baptist Church · Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship · Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association · Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International · General Association of Baptists · General Association of General Baptists · General Six-Principle Baptists · Independent Baptist · Independent Baptist Fellowship International · Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America · Institutional Missionary Baptist Conference of America · Liberty Baptist Fellowship · Missionary Baptists · National Association of Free Will Baptists · National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. · National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. · National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul Saving Assembly of the U.S.A. · National Missionary Baptist Convention of America · National Primitive Baptist Convention of the U.S.A. · New England Evangelical Baptist Fellowship · Northern Baptist Convention · Old Regular Baptist · Old Time Missionary Baptist · Original Free Will Baptist Convention · Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church · Primitive Baptist · Primitive Baptist Conference of New Brunswick, Maine and Nova Scotia · Primitive Baptist Universalist · Progressive National Baptist Convention · Reformed Baptists · Separate Baptists · Separate Baptists in Christ · Seventh Day Baptist · Silver Bluff Baptist Church · Southern Baptist Convention · Southwide Baptist Fellowship · Sovereign Grace Baptists · Spring Creek Church · Triennial Convention · Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists · Union Baptists · United American Free Will Baptist Church · United American Free Will Baptist Conference · Wisconsin Fellowship of Baptist Churches · World Baptist Fellowship

    As I said, many interpretations…

    With that in mind, while I agree that Trinitarianism is a key to the overwhelming majority of Christian denominations, it is not common to all. Nor is it a doctrine that was specifically laid out until the councils of the late Roman Empire period.

    Western Christianity is based on Catholicism, and there can be no question of that. That means Protestantism inherited the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, as opposed to the Greek, Ethiopian, Syriac, Armenian, Nestorian, or Coptic doctrine. When the Restorationist movement began in the USA, people began to create new denominations that would hearken back to the primitive church, seeing the Catholic influences as having altered the basic doctrines of Jesus Christ. The most radical of the American new denominations, Mormons being among them, rejected the Trinitarian doctrine. That’s not to say they all adopted the same approach: the Jehovah’s Witness’ version of non-Trinitarianism is vastly different from the Mormon one.

    Yet, all agree on the divinity of Jesus Christ and his importance in our salvation. That’s what separates us from the Jews and Muslims. They both consider the Bible (or parts thereof) to be sacred writings, but draw the line at the divinity of Jesus. Ask any Jew or Muslim if Mormons are Christian or not, and you’ll get either an “I don’t care,” “All those denominations confuse me,” or “Yes” as an answer.

    Religious history is an exciting area of study, though, and I have a good list of well-received histories to read on that very topic, if anyone’s interested.

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