In Whose Kingdom Will You Serve? An American Idol

Lord, bless and pity us, shine on us with thy face:

That th’ earth thy way, and nations all may know thy saving grace.

Let people praise thee, Lord; let people all thee praise.

O let the nations be glad, in songs their voices raise:

Thou’lt justly people judge, on earth rule nations all.

Let people praise thee, Lord;  let them praise thee, both great and small.

The earth her fruit shall yield, our God shall blessing send.

God shall us bless; men shall him fear unto earth’s utmost end.

                                                          Psalm 67, Scottish Metrical Psalter of 1650

In Whose Kingdom Will You Serve?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Matthew 6:31-34

At every moment the Devil goes about seeking to devour the people of God. And while the enticement to commit sins against the second table of the law (murder, adultery, theft, perjury and envy) will be more or less constant for all of us in this life, those of us in a democratic republic constantly face the temptation to put our country or our party ahead of the Kingdom of God, violating both the First and Second Commandments. If we find ourselves more worried about defending our standard of living, being on the gold standard, or supporting or opposing CAFÉ standards than following the standards of God’s word for kindness and personal generosity, for example, we are serving the wrong king.

Because it describes the attitude of those who know not God, Matthew 6 also shows the unlikelihood of getting cooperation from unbelievers in an effort to make the nation conform to the Bible’s teachings. They seek the temporal because that is all they have. They love to say “eat, drink and be merry” because they think this is the whole meaning of life. But we are not to be like the world.

Christian politicians are tempted to violate Christ’s command to seek first the Kingdom of God, and seek a kingdom of this world instead. This can be illustrated by a pair of questions I once posed: Should I Pray When I Smoke? and Should I Smoke When I Pray? [1] At first glance, it might appear the two questions are basically the same. But upon closer examination, the questions illustrate a crucial distinction. In the first case, praying is incidental to smoking, which is the main focus of the smoker. So, of course you can certainly pray while you are smoking. In the second case, praying is central. At those times specifically devoted to prayer, smoking is inappropriate because it takes the focus away from the main purpose, which is prayer. An analogy exists between those questions and two others pertinent to this chapter:

  • May I commend a man who is right on politics even though we greatly differ in religion? (Of course!)
  • May I commend a man’s false religion because he is right on politics? (Of course not!)

Failure to make the distinction between these two questions is much more serious than smoking while praying and probably comes up more much often in the lives of politically active Christians. While I deal with the question of identity politics and religious questions pertaining to a candidate in a later section, here I take a stand to defend the good news of Jesus Christ. Many pundits worry about the encroachment of religion into politics. Much worse is the harmful influence partisan politics can have upon the Christian and the church.

Two Mormons have begun to play a more prominent role in American culture and politics over the last four years: Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck. Make no mistake, these men have a Constitutional and historical right to practice their religion and participate in politics as they see fit, as all men do in the USA. They can mix these two aspects of their lives in any way they wish. My quibble is with neither of them on the issue at hand. They both are patriotic men who want the best for our country, and I agree with many of their political positions. I am dealing here with purely religious questions, and my concern is that many Christians are following misguided leaders who are setting aside sound Biblical doctrine in the name of political expediency.

I will speak plainly. While it is quite possible to work together with unbelievers to stop abortion, work on economic issues, further political goals or protect marriage, it is not okay to do so at the price of denying Christ or the gospel and losing one’s own soul. Well-known Christian public figures, such as Texas Governor Rick Perry, Pat Robertson, David Barton, James Robison and Joel Osteen have already said that Mormons are Christians. However, patriotism and love of country must not take priority over our service to the True and Living God, and his only Son, Jesus. To do so is to make patriotism an idol. 

I have come to the conclusion I’d rather sit under a thousand Mormon presidents than hear one more minister deny the gospel by affirming that Mormonism is a Christian religion. Mormonism is not Christianity; in fact it resembles the original false religion promoted by Satan in the Garden of Eden when he promised Adam and Eve that they would be as God,[2] knowing good and evil. Mormonism teaches that Christians will become gods and that the eternal God was once a man. They believe that God has a father and mother.

It is not necessary here to extensively defend the belief that Mormonism is a false religion, a view which has been held by virtually the entire church since Mormonism began formally under the leadership of Joseph Smith in the early 1800s. For those who believe the Bible to be the only inspired Word of God, it is fairly straightforward.

So what in the world does this have to do with politics? Am I worried about the influence of Mormonism on politics? Not at all. Mormons are often outstanding citizens, who agree with other conservatives on many political issues. My concern is not even that Mormons want to have an impact on the culture with their religion. Errors from outside the church are not my concern here; it is the wave of error overtaking the church from within. As the quality of preaching and teaching from American pulpits has deteriorated in recent decades, even as the church has gotten more involved in politics, the crumbling of her walls has nearly reached the foundation (which of course cannot be touched, for it is the Word of God, delivered once and for all to the saints by the prophets and apostles).

It is not the Mormon influence on politics that is the problem; the problem is the compromise of the pure gospel of Christ which alone is able to save souls from hell. Politics and patriotism have become the great tempters of the American Christian. The Scriptures repeatedly warn us that the cross is offensive to the unbeliever. The belief in justification by faith alone through the unique Son of God is foolishness to the wise of this world.

As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Romans 9:33

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you John 15:18

And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. Galatians 5:11

An American Idol

I love my country. I am thankful for the manifold blessings God has given her. Christians can certainly see God’s gracious hand in our history. But our freedoms and Christian legacy are a result of the blessing of God, not the cause of it. This may seem to be trivial, but it is really the difference between honoring the Creator and deifying the creature, between salvation by grace and damnation by good works, between godly worship and godless idolatry.

It is evident that a legitimate patriotism has grown into patriolatry, with all of the trappings of any other false religion. Just as counterfeiters work hard at making their currency look as much as possible like the real McCoy—by using the same typeface, paper, ink and symbols as as genuine money—so too, the American civil religion has replaced the sweet doctrines of Christianity with super-sweet, cancer-causing substitutes. Patriolatry has set up a false religion right in the middle of the church.


[2] http://www.mormondoctrine.net/don’t_know_that_we_teach_it.htm

This article is taken from With Christ in the Voting Booth, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and fine bookstores everywhere (except Tupelo, Mississippi).

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Comments

    • says

      Actually, I meant to write Tupelo, Arkansas. We teased a college classmate who was from there because his town was in the heart of the Land of Opportunity, meaning there was nothing there – including bookstores and libraries..

  1. Fellow Chrisitan aka Mormon says

    So…, I am a Mormon. It is difficult for me to understand why there are Christians that do not think I am a Christian. The reasons they do not vary. In this case you have stated the reason that you do not believe I am a Christian is because I believe that God is my father in Heaven and Christ is His only begotten Son and also my brother. What part of that doctrine makes us not Christian?
    We say to those not of our faith, come and keep all the good that you have and we will see if we can add to it. I think that God can choose to speak to whomever He wishes. I don’t place any boundaries on God. Why do you? Why do you not accept the fact that His ways are not our ways. Have you read the Book of Mormon? Couldn’t the possibility exist that it might be true? That Christ did indeed restore His church to the earth through latter day prophets? You believe in Moses, Abraham and Isaac, I assume? God spoke to them. Why couldn’t God speak to men in our day?
    We have families here. I have a father on earth and a mother on earth. Why could not my spirit have a father just as Christ was the spiritual first born son of our Heavenly Father? Christ was the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. A crucial difference between Christ and me. He led the path and showed the way and He still does that today. Why couldn’t God the father have had a father and a mother? What is so wrong with that idea? The pharisees saw much to disagree with the Savior about, was is not for this that they crucified Him? To hold their position and their power? Do you do the same when you reject His additional words? Do you reject all that He wants to give you in the name of holding a position? Why are some Christians so afraid of new and change when it is obviously so good and so enriching and more of the same goodness found in the Bible? Truth is truth. I’d think people would want more of it than less. The Bible is great, but the Jews are not the only people that God has spoken to. I put no limits on God. Why do you?
    My question for you is, and it is a sincere question, if you don’t believe that God the Father had a father and through grace divine became a God, where do you explain that God came from? The fact that families are central to the plan of God and that families can and have existed forever as one eternal round is comforting to me. I don’t comprehend fully how it all works, but the idea brings comfort and peace to me.
    I understand that it may be a struggle to accept Joseph Smith’s story. He said himself that if it weren’t true he would have a hard time believing it. The only way to know the things of God is to have them revealed to you by the Holy Ghost whose role it is to witness to all of God’s children the truth of His plan. The test of faith will always be present, but we can evolve into knowing as we humble ourselves as a little child and accept His wisdom as greater than our own.
    To me, having the understanding that Mitt Romney is a humble, praying man is very reassuring, regardless of denomination or creed. A praying man is a man that will guide us right for he will have the God of Heaven as His counselor. Pray always that is what Mormons believe.
    I don’t trust mankind in general, but I trust God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, the Godhead, completely. They are one in purpose and that purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Their love is sure and their purpose is firm and unwavering.

    • says

      “It is difficult for me to understand why there are Christians that do not think I am a Christian.”

      Because your founders attacked the Bible, and added to it the uninspired and contradictory words of mere men.

      Because you have elevated feelings to a standard to determine truth, rather than the everlasting and eternal Word of God.

      Because you have denied the Biblical doctrine of One God and replaced with a pagan notion of many gods.

      Because you teach that the treasonous act of Adam and Eve was a good and necessary thing.

      Because you teach that the original lie in the Garden of Eden was truth – that God wanted them to become “gods”.

      Because you do not teach that we are saved by the Grace of God, alone.

      Because your false prophet taught that there was no salvation outside the Mormon church.

      You ask “I don’t place any boundaries on God. Why do you? ”

      Because God is a God of Truth – he cannot lie, nor can he change. He cannot say today that there is only One God and tomorrow say he has a father., etc.

      You say, “A crucial difference between Christ and me. He led the path and showed the way and He still does that today.”

      Yes, he is an example of righteousness. But he is the only Savior, the unique, Divine and eternal Son of God.

  2. rockyrd says

    David,
    With all due respect, you have no right or authority to judge who is and who isn’t a Christian. Neither do I. Of course, we may use our beliefs to speculate, but each person will be judged by the sincerity of their Christian hearts by Jesus Christ. I, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have every faith that His judgement of each of us will be just. I speculate that many Mormons will sit on his right hand as will many Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, etc. I commend you on your efforts and achievements in your life. I bear you no ill will, but let us remember that there will be but one Judge of humankind. It will not be you or me.

    • says

      It it interesting that a Mormon would suggest that we can’t judge who is a Christian and who is not, considering that your founder created your religion, based upon the idea that all other churches were corrupt and an abomination. Would you feel better if I called Mitt Romney corrupt and an abomination? Brigham Young did the same thing saying:

      The Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God…. We may very properly say that the sectarian world do not know anything correctly, so far as pertains to salvation.

      http://vintage.aomin.org/Quotations.html

      I am not judging Mitt Romney as to his ultimate position before God and his destiny. I agree that that is God’s work. I am judging his profession, which is not Christian. It is all we can go on, along with his statements concerning the commandments.

  3. rockyrd says

    You have misunderstood. The creeds are quoted to be an abomination (we could discuss that point for days), not the people, not the hearts of sincere, believing Christians. According to our belief, this is the Lord God Almighty who “created” that idea, not Joseph Smith. So if you called Mitt Romney corrupt and an abomination, you’d be condemning an individual, not a faith. As far as how I would feel, I hear it all the time. If you read much and I assume you do, you read it too. It is part of standing strong as a Christian. Persecution is the heritage of the faithful (all Christians, so we all hear it). Religion and Christianity specifically are under attack now. I personally recoil at attacks directed towards any church as well as mine.

    All the Brigham Young quote is saying is that The Church of Jesus Christ has more to offer as far as knowledge of salvation. Now Brigham didn’t always couch his teachings in politically correct terms, but knowledge of salvation is the message in his quote. Note that he does not condemn any one to hell or question the heart of a believing Christian. I don’t think you can give me a quote from an accurate source as to the commandments Mitt Romney has addressed. If you are going to reply to this, I’d first like to know who set you up as judge of who is a Christian and who isn’t. Again, you and I have the right to our opinions, but not to judge.

    I commend you for your enthusiasm and sincerity and the depth of your belief. I think there is too much at stake in our country right now, politically, morally and otherwise for us to be having these disagreements. Our energies should be directed towards the common good. We likely never agree on doctrine. I worked in a community as a bishop in the LDS Church with other ministers, priests and community members. We fed the hungry and taught them how to”fish.” Much good was achieved. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t the other clergy. It was us together that achieved it. I was forced to leave, but wonderful things are happening there because we put aside our differences. After this long statement, I will suggest we put aside ours and do something that will help someone! Thanks David.

    • David Shedlock says

      I didn’t misunderstand at all. I know exactly what is going on here. Because you have exalted Joseph Smith above the ordinary man, you have made him exempt from the standards that you hold Christians to.

      I did not set myself as judge. The Word of God is the standard by which we judge these things. I already said that I am not judging Romney, I am judging his profession, which is not a Christian profession. His adherence to the Book of Mormon and the demonic doctrines contained therein is contrary to a godly profession of faith. i will not rehash them all here. To believe that one will become god is blasphemy.

      I already granted the premise that we can work together in the original post:

      While it is quite possible to work together with unbelievers to stop abortion, work on economic issues, further political goals or protect marriage,

      However, do not ask me to affirm that we are brethren or that Mormonism is Christian, it is not.

      As to Romney and the commandments, he has affirmed the Mormon doctrine that it is okay to murder children conceived in rape and incest (and recently, all those that the mother is sick of carrying). That is a clear violation of the sixth commandment. You agree, don’t you? How can someone be a Christian who professes that it is okay to kill little children?

  4. docdds says

    Where did you come up with your definition of a Christian? Certainly not from the Bible. And what makes your definition better than anyone else’s? Because you learned your definition from a seminary, where it was taught by other men, it is just one of many definitions. You seem so hung up on what you have been taught that you miss Christ’s definition in the New Testament. You seem much like the Pharisees and Scribes who Christ says, “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” You reject what Christ said would be signs of His true disciples. What part of “let your light so shine before men” don’t you get? How about, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”? Or, how about this, “by this shall men know, ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”? Or, “Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?” How about what Christ said about separating the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25? How about what James said about service and faith and how they had to both function together in the lives of true believers? And finally, how about Revelation 20:12-13—every man judged according to his works?
    So, how do we know if a man is a Christian? Not by quoting a memorized creed, or by believing what another man teaches us in seminary, but by abiding the precepts Christ taught, that is, by becoming as much like Him as possible, and going about doing good. “By their fruits ye shall know them”.
    It is because of people like you that God included in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

    • David Shedlock says

      “It is because of people like you”

      Exactly. I am a sinner. I need guidance. I need the law of God, both to show me how to live, but more importantly, that I need a Savior – one fitted to my every need. I need Jesus. Why is it a discussion with Mormons that begins in doctrines, often ends with Mormons judging themselves righteous and hurling all kinds of personal insults and condemnation to those who disagree with them?

  5. phillipcsmith says

    The difficulty with this kind of article is the assumption by the author that his interpretation of the scriptures is the correct one. The only person who can verify what interpretation is correct is God himself. For this reason I suggest that those interested who can pray with faith and real intent go to God and ask him humbly if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. As James 1 says, we must ask in faith since God knows whether or not we are sincere in our efforts.