Question: I have forwarded a new book to you that is sure to shake the foundations of evangelicalism. It is called How Wide the Divide: a Mormon and Evangelical in Conversation by Craig L. Blomberg (evangelical professor at Denver Seminary) and Stephen E. Robinson (Mormon). In my opinion, this book could never have been written were it not for the years of ecumenical compromise with Rome. The book was published by InterVarsity Press. I would appreciate your review of it.
Response: The book is a futile exercise because the Mormon Church, like the Roman Catholic Church and other cults, allows no questioning of its official doctrines. The opinions expressed by Stephen E. Robinson, the Mormon in the dialogue, are just one man’s opinion and have no weight either with his Church or with the other 9 million Mormons in the world.
There is no question that the hierarchical dogmatism and authoritarianism of the Mormon Church is comparable to that of Roman Catholicism. “Dialogue” at the level in this book is meaningless. As the “Ward Teachers’ Message” for June, 1945 said, “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan, it is God’s plan....When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way.” So why devote a book to the opinions of one Mormon who admits that he only speaks for himself?
Nor is there any question about the official doctrines of the Mormon Church. The Mormon “God” is a man (he still has a physical body, as Joseph Smith, who saw him, testified) who as a sinner was redeemed by another “Jesus” on another planet and who has a hierarchy of “Gods” (also exalted men) over him. Their “Jesus” is the spirit brother of Lucifer (of whom we are all half- brothers and sisters) and is not God from all eternity but came to this earth to get a body in order to become a “God.” That body was formed when their “God” came to this earth and with his physical body had sex with Mary. Eternal life to the Mormon is exaltation to godhood, and, far from being the gift of God’s grace, takes much effort and eons of time to achieve—an ambition supposedly shared by every true Mormon male. Mormon women can only hope to become goddesses consigned to eternal pregnancy as they give birth to spirit beings who will eventually people another planet with another Adam and Eve, a fall into sin, and another “Jesus.” It is a process which has been going on forever and will continue ad infinitum, ad absurdum.
Lately Mormonism has put on a new mask to pose as just another Christian denomination. Its commercials on TV and newspaper ads are masterpieces of deception. We have quoted the Mormon Easter ad: “During the Easter season we again rejoice with all of Christendom, and grate- fully commemorate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ....At this sacred season we solemnly testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We know that He lives! We know that because he lives, we too shall live again!”
It sounds so biblical, but Mormonism has its own peculiar and anti-Christian meaning for each of these words. Nevertheless, Bromberg and Robinson conclude their book on page 195 with an impressive list of 12 “foundational propositions of the Christian gospel” upon which they both agree. In fact there is no agreement—yet the latest Barna Poll lists 26 percent of Mormons as born-again Christians. It is the same problem as ECT and ECT2 all over again—assuming an agreement which doesn’t exist by reason of different meanings for key words and concepts. The book pretends that because similar language is used the meaning is the same. Both authors surely know that is not the case.
The book in itself would not be worth discussing were it not for the endorsements. That is what is shocking. Ron Enroth, who ought to know better, is quoted on the front cover: “This is a landmark book!” Gordon R. Lewis of Denver Theological Seminary says, “this book is a giant step toward better under- standing of some influential contemporary Evangelicals and Mormons. All can learn from this model of respectful dialogue....” (If so, Paul’s problem was that he failed to obey Christ’s command to “go into all the world and dialogue” and mistakenly thought he was to preach the gospel!) Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, says, “The dialogue between Evangelicals and Mormons is long overdue. I hope this much-needed, fascinating and important book gets widely read in both communities.” Doug Groothuis of Denver Seminary is a bit more guarded: “...this significant book respectfully addresses many of the crucial points of contention between Mormons and Evangelical Christians in a way that avoids both hasty polemics and superficial agreement.” But his commendation on the back cover will lead many astray. Furthermore, the book is characterized by the very “superficial agreement” which he says it avoids.
One is reminded of Peter Kreeft’s book, Ecumenical Jihad, which we commented upon in part in April ’97. In it (p 96) Kreeft (one of the Catholic signers of ECT and ECT2) has Confucius “in the outskirts of Heaven, the place you call Purgatory....” He is God’s “prophet” on the way to heaven, the Catholic way, of course. Buddha and Muhammad are both already in heaven (pp 96-111), having been God’s prophets all along, and many of their followers (Muhammad hopes “most” of his “pious followers” will make it - p 105) are also crypto-Christians (Pope John Paul II’s description of his close buddy, Gorbachev, an atheist) who will be around the throne of the Lamb whom they rejected. Kreeft portrays Muhammad (because of his veneration of Mary and her mention 34 times in the Koran) as being “closer in spirit to the touchstone...of Catholic truth” (which Kreeft equates with Christianity) than most Protestants.
Kreeft suggests a “hidden Christ of Hinduism” (pp 156-160) and of other pagan religions; and that pagans and even atheists and agnostics may be secret believers in Jesus without knowing it (pp 156-161). And finally, he opts for Teilhard de Chardin’s idea that the transubstantiation effected by Catholic priests in the Eucharist is inexorably transforming the entire universe into one giant Cosmic Eucharistic Christ (p 158) and that ultimately everyone, including even evangelicals, will be united in the Eucharist and Mary (pp 145-155).
That J. I. Packer and Chuck Colson give their enthusiastic stamp of approval on the back cover tells us much about them that we feared but didn’t want to believe, about both ECTs and other evangelical signers, and about the apostasy that is gathering momentum.