Billy Graham is a Christian Evangelist who has long operated on various levels as a kind of de-facto representative of evangelical Christianity. He’s got a long history of relationships with political figures and a slew of associations in his resume. For a lot of Christians, he’s the “go-to” guy, the “up-front” man, the “man with the plan.” What he says makes a difference. His words carry weight. He’s like Moses with a mullet. Or at least a well-coifed dew. And make no mistake, he’s highly capable of laying down some fire and brimstone when the situation warrants it. When the devil comes to town bearing a pitchfork, Billy Graham is there with a fire hose and a bible. If it ain’t in the rule book, it ain’t God. And if it ain’t God, then it’s Satan. Period. There ain’t no shades of grey in the bible. It’s a black and white issue. You’re either on-board with Christ, or you’re burning in the pit. Metaphorical interpretation? No way. So it is written, so it was and so it shall be forever.
Recently, Billy had a long talk with Mitt Romeny, and suddenly, without too much noise or hubbub, Mormonism dropped off Billy’s list of cults. How kewl! After being asked about it, the Chief of Staff for Billy’s evangelical association stated that “We removed the (cult) information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”
Let me reinterpret this into dood speak. Ahem. “They don’t want to influence Christians from voting for Romney because he’s a Mormon, so they decided that Mormonism shouldn’t be labeled as a cult anymore in their list of cults.”
Billy was quoted as saying, “I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Let me reinterpret this into dood speak again. Ahem. “God hates gays and baby killers. Vote for Romney because Romney hates them too.”
Now, far be it from me to prevent someone from holding their own viewpoint of the world. Billy Graham is just as entitled to his perspective of things as anyone else. That being said, Mormonism was listed as a cult for a very long time, and I doubt other Christian churches are going to just ditch that belief because someone who holds their values happens to be a Mormon and a presidential candidate.
Or will they?
Social issues make for some strange bedfellows, and social issues in America are continuously evolving to suit a variety of factors. I was raised in a protestant church, and attended a class or two on the various cults, and Mormonism was certainly on the list. I still recall learning about Joe Smith and his magic glasses and golden tablets and how a secret government of white people lived in the Americas before the coming of the Europeans. It all seemed very strange. And, of course, it was taught from the perspective of – “this is bullshit” – by the evangelicals leading the class. They also taught that the Mormons did not view Christ as the son of God, but rather as simply another Prophet (albeit the greatest of Prophets) in a long list of Prophets. They taught us that the Mormons considered the bible as “not yet completed” and that they set about adding testaments to it. Most of which are available to anyone who wants to read them. (Although they didn’t offer a copy in class, just to be clear). No, I still haven’t read it – sigh – it’s low on my list of things to do, sadly.
Now, it appears that some of these teaching were incorrect. Apparently Mormonism does consider Christ to be the son of God and the savior of humanity for any and all who accept him as such. I can’t help but wonder what has changed. Have the Mormons changed, or have the Christians changed? Was the information taught to me in my youth incorrect, or have Mormons now embraced the same theology as the Christians while keeping their modified account of American history and their additions to the bible?
Well, it probably doesn’t matter. I mean, it could have some affect on Christian voters, but for the large part, the overall influence is probably limited. I mean, those Christians who feel anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage are the important factors were probably already voting along those lines anyway. The end result is probably negligible for the political race. But I wonder what affect it will have on the evolution of the countries theological makeup. (I’m not concerned about it, just interested as a skeptical observer). Present day anthropology is kind of a hobby, I guess. I don’t judge Mormonism, and I certainly have no problems with Mormons. They make great neighbors!
Heresies of the past brought us our current theology. The heresy of today is the dominant religion of tomorrow. The cults of today are the churches of the future. I can’t help but wonder what new fragmentation we will see in the coming years, and what new heresies will rise into favor. Will Scientology someday drop off Billy’s list of cults? Perhaps if one of them runs for President and claims Jesus is just alright, it could happen. Maybe they will proclaim that Xenu was Jesus. It could happen!
So, in short, Mormons are now Christians as Christians define them. Religion – it changes in taste every day. Savor the flavor!