Now, Religion in the News, a report and commentary on spiritual events and trends in the media. Statements issued by political leaders and celebrities can have an impact on the body of Christ. That point is highlighted by this citing from the Salt Lake Tribune. FormerU.S. President Jimmy Carter maybe the nation’s most visible Southern Baptist, but he does not always think like one. Among his views: we are not living in the last days. Prayer should not be mandated in school. Women should be allowed in pulpits. This was never a Christian nation. And by the way, Mormons should be considered Christians. Carter compared denomination leaders who decide who can and cannot be considered an acceptable person in the eyes of God to Pharisees who were condemned by Christ. Carter supports the idea of taking the message of Jesus Christ to all the world, but objects to proselytizing meant to convert Christians from one group to another. “If you mean should we Protestants devote our time to converting Catholics to be Protestants, that’s something with which I generally disagree,” he said. Dave and T. A. will now comment.
Tom: Dave this is our former president and he makes a lot of statements here, religious statements, statements that relate to spirituality that are off the wall I think.
Dave: Well some of them I would certainly agree with. I don’t think we should have prayer mandated in public schools. Whose prayer is it going to be? What kind is it going to be? Buddhist? Hindu? Muslim and so forth? I think that—
Tom:Yes, if prayer is mandated and coerced, it’s no longer prayer.
Dave: That’s right. Well, whose going to lead it and it’s going to be sponsored by the government and it shouldn’t be. But on the other hand, each individual should be free to pray as they want. Not out loud to everybody, but they could certainly bow their head and pray. At any time they should be allowed to.
I would certainly agree with him that the United States is not, nor ever was a Christian country. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a Christian country anywhere in the world. But again—
Tom: Even though there are people out there and there have been many books written saying that we are a Christian nation? Does God have a covenant with the United States of America?
Dave: Well we would have to look at those issues factually and see whether these were really Christians or were they theists?
Tom: And that will be a show that we will do down the road.
Dave: Right. As far as what he said about Mormons, I mean that’s astonishing. He’s an intelligent man. I can’t believe that he’s ignorant. I think he just wants to be tolerant. He surely knows that the Mormon god is a man. I mean there are trillions of gods out there, but the god of this world Mormons would say is a man with a physical body who was redeemed. He was a sinner redeemed on another planet by another Jesus who pulled himself up by his boot straps to become a god and now he’s the god over this world. Jesus of Mormonism is not God who became a man, but he was a spirit being in the pre-existent world half brother of Lucifer, as all of us are his half brothers and sisters. His body came about when Father God came with his physical body and had physical sex with Mary so Jesus was not born of a virgin. One of the most famous sayings in Mormonism is: “As man is God once was. As God is man may become.” So the goal of Mormon males is to become another god, have another planet, another Adam and Eve, another Lucifer, another fall, another Jesus, another redemption. It’s one eternal round and eternal life which the Bible says is a free gift, in Mormonism you earn it. You go through Temple rituals and ceremonies and so forth. And eternal life to a Mormon is not living in heaven with Jesus, but it’s having your own earth, being a god over your own world, exaltation to godhood. Jesus didn’t pay for this on the cross by his redemptive work and so forth. Mormonism is as far from Christianity as you can possibly get.
And so for Jimmy Carter to say we shouldn’t be concerned about converting them—we ought to be concerned about converting them. I don’t think he’s speaking from ignorance, but from tolerance.
Tom: Right. Well tolerance is the problem here. It’s one of the reason this article made it into the Further Signs of the Apostasy segment of our program. He makes another statement which shows, I would think, tolerance except among evangelicals this is a problem recognizing the gospel of Roman Catholicism versus the biblical gospel. There’s a great distinction. The gap is wide and very wide.
Dave: Yes, it’s not an issue of converting Catholics to become Protestants. I have no interest in that. The Bible doesn’t even talk about Protestants. It’s are we saved, or are we lost? Are we on our way to heaven or are we not? Have we believed the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves? Or have we believed a false gospel of rituals and works? I believe that we can demonstrate very thoroughly from their own writings, not from ex-Catholics, but from the writings. Catholicism is a religion where you earn your way to heaven by the sacraments and your good deeds and so forth. But that again is another issue that would take more time to deal with.
Tom: And we will be dealing with these issues, if the Lord tarries, in the days ahead.
Dave: Yes. Probably the most shocking thing about the article is that Jimmy Carter continues to be a member of the Southern Baptist Convention and that they haven’t ex-communicated him. I would think that they should have by now. You would have to wonder does he really know the gospel to make statements like this? Is he really saved himself? Now that’s not for my opinion. The issue is does he really believe the gospel that saves? And that’s a matter of fact and of faith.