Vatican: Are Mormons more like Methodists or Muslims?

It’s 2008 and the Pope has scheduled two gatherings with religious big wigs in the United States. One is ecumenical — i.e. for Christians. The other is interreligious — i.e. for people of faith who aren’t Christians.

So, which meeting do you invite the Mormons to?

Remember: Catholics, Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Assemblies of God, Presbyterians — none of these groups recognize Mormon baptisms as valid Christian baptisms. And Mormons don’t consider Catholic and Protestant baptisms as valid Christian baptisms.

Great religion reporter Gary Stern has a fascinating post on this topic. It’s available here.

Updated: August 13, 2009 — 9:26 am

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  1. I guess it depends on how you want to look at it. Theologically, you may be correct, but I tend to look at how organizations actually function, not what they say they believe. I’d say, as I said yesterday, that they’re more like the Catholics themselves, because they’re regimented, secretive, insular, and want to control everything.

  2. Catholicism secretive and insular? Not in the US at least. Catholicism has no secret doctrines, whereas Mormonism has more than a few. In terms of organization: Mormonism is organized around families and businesses. The Catholic Church is organized around a cadre of celibate men and is focused far, far more on culture that Mormonism ever has or will be.

    Mormonism, in terms of its organizational sociology, resembles a corporation like IBM far more than it does Catholicism.

  3. Catholicism in the US is a pale imitation of the real thing. They rarely even excommunicate anyone anymore. I was comparing the Vatican to Salt Lake City.

  4. It’s not a perfect comparison, but I’ve often considered how the relationship of Christianity to Judaism is similar to how Islam and Mormonism relate to Christianity. They incorporate much of the history and theology, but they take the old faith in a decidedly different direction and they use new scripture. The big difference is probably that Mormonism regards itself more as a restoration of Christianity than a fulfillment or progression.

    Aside from the rather obvious evidence (mentioned frequently by Brother Caleb) that causes many of us to doubt the validity of Joseph Smith’s revelations, the big hangup for me is the polytheism. Fellow poster John Hamilton commented:
    “How is that drastically different than, say the Methodist’s beliefs? The Trinity is still there, we just separate them.”
    Answer: “Three in One” is nowhere near the same as “Three in Three”. We Methodists are quite insistent about that.

    The United Methodist Church is plenty ecumenical, to the point of accepting the baptism from practically every other Christian church that you can name, even those that do not reciprocate with us. But we do not– can not– accept a Mormon baptism as a valid Christian baptism. It is not the same God that we worship. It is not the same Christ.

  5. I can’t believe I don’t know this, but do we Episcopalians accept Mormon baptisms? I bet Fr. Van knows . . .

  6. One more thing that I meant to mention. Jews and Christians admit that they belong to different religions. Same thing for Muslims and Christians. It is possible to recognize and even celebrate the shared tradition while acknowledging the clear distinctions. We can respect each other and still maintain that our faiths are irreconcilably different.

  7. Caleb: I think we accept any baptism done with the formula, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…” Yet, intention is important, and I would doubt that most bishops would accept Mormon baptism as valid…But, in today’s Church, with the nearly Buddhist bishop changing the baptism formula, who knows?

  8. so< guys I guess that means infant baptism is out????? kinda difficult for an infant to raise their arm in a square—

  9. Guys, we Mormons don’t accept any one else’s baptism and we sure as hell don’t want them to accept ours! We believe baptisms must be done by someone who has the direct AUTHORITY from God to do so. Otherwise, any bloke off the street can decide to act in the very name of God and baptize you. Don’t think that would stick with God. This is the beauty of continuing revelation. If you believe God still talks to man in the same way He did in the Bible, than you can get that authority from Him or from His direct representatives just like they did in the New Testament. The Apostles were given the authority to act in God’s name by Jesus Christ Himself. They then gave that authority to others and even ordained (by the laying of of hands) a new apostle to replace Judas. Where, oh where, do the Episcopalians claim their authority comes from. Well, I know where the claim it comes from, but do they have the documented line of authority going back to the apostles? No. Mormons believe (and you don’t have to believe this yourself–just stating it) that this authority was RESTORED when the ancient apostles returned as resurrected beings and bestowed this authority anew on Joseph Smith and others. So, in essence we think other baptisms, while having emotional value, lack the actual approval from God, through defined and organized proper channels, to be of any real effect. Another Church accepting our baptisms as valid in their own is really an insult to the proper order we believe the Lord has ordained.

    The Pope can decide for himself to put us into whatever category he wants. He can even label us in the “heathen” category if he wants. We honer the respect he has in the world and the good attributes he has as a person, but he has no authority, in our book, to act in God’s name–only the authority that comes from long-standing tradition and the convenience of a murky past church history.

  10. To ease your mind on one point, John, yes, we Episcopalians do have a documented line of authority going back to the apostles. And that is from whence our bishops divine their authority to make policy. But, we make policy only for ourselves, and do not claim that we are the only fellowship in the apostolic succession. Unlike the picture you paint of the LDS Church, we do not claim that we are the only true and correct religious fellowship in the world, and if we accept Mormon baptism (which I imagine we do), we do so not to insult the Mormons (we wear tweed and Madras plaid to do that), but because we see Baptism as something that needs to be done only once, and if it is done in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit, that’s good enough for us; we’d accept it if anyone did it that way. Traditionally, baptism is the one sacrament that may in fact be performed by anyone, even a non-christian if necessary.

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