The speech is over, but the questions remain?

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered his much anticipated “Faith in America” speech on December 6th at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library.  I did not watch the speech, but have read the transcript found on the candidate’s website.

Let me first of all say that Romney will not receive my vote during the primary season.  However, barring some remarkable not yet unannounced third party candidate, I can assure you that he will receive my vote in the November 2008 general election, should he become the Republican nominee.  In spite of any doubts or reservations I have about the man, he is far better than any of the Democrat candidates contending for that party’s nomination.  And to stay on the sidelines of the 2008 presidential election because a perfect candidate on all litmus test issues is not on the ticket (as some evangelicals are promising vis a vis the pro-life vs. pro-choice issue) seems highly irresponsible given the broader range of issues that face our nation.  But that is the subject of another post for another time.  

In his speech, there were a couple of comments that Romney made that particularly caused me to pause and think about what he had said.  The first was this:

“I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers – I will be true to them and to my beliefs.”

On one hand, I am glad to hear that he “believes what he believes” and that his goal is to “live by it.”  That is commendable.  It is a position of integrity that all people of faith, regardless what that faith is, should aspire to.  The troubling thing for me is the next part about Mormonism being the faith of his fathers and he will be true to them.  I have heard from people who have come out from the Mormon faith, that they are essentially exiled from relationships with family if they renounce their Mormonism.  So, it caused me to pause and consider what the underlying basis for Romney’s faithfulness to “his fathers” might be.  Is it fear of rejection by family, or has he fully examined the doctrine of his church, and made a decision that it is right for him, which coincidentally allows for faithfulness to his ancestors?  Does he feel any coercion to remain in his church based on the harsh practice of rejection?

The second thing Romney did that caused me pause was this.  In his speech, Romney avoided any discussion of doctrine and dismissed, as inappropriate, any future questions about doctrine, saying, the Constitution prohibits it.  But there was one section of the speech that really draws attention to the subject of doctrine.  And as for me, he created more questions than he provided answers by making this statement:

“There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history.”

The first part of this comment would appear to make Romney a “Christian”.  But for those who only heard that line as a sound bite on radio or TV, you need to consider seriously the next line.  Romney goes on to say his church’s beliefs about Christ may be different from other faiths.  Talk about an understatement.  Here are just a few of the distinctives of the Mormon faith*:

God the Father, in His glorified physical body, had sexual intercourse with the Virgin Mary that resulted in the conception of the physical Christ.  (Mormon Doctrine, p. 547; Journal of Discourses, V.1, p. 51;  v.4, p. 218)

Christ, before his earthly ministry was the first spirit child born to the Heavenly Father and Mother.  (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 278, 589)

God the Father has Eternal Wives through whom spirit children have been and continue to be born.  (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 516;  The Seer, Orson Pratt, p. 37, 158) 

Satan was originally the spirit brother of Christ.  (The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15)

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct gods.  (Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 370, 372)

Christ’s blood shed on the cross only provides for the universal resurrection of all people and does not pay for personal sin.  (3rd Article of Faith; Journal of Discourses, V. 3, p. 247; Mormon Doctrine, pp. 62, 669)

Christ’s blood shed in the Garden of Gethsemane atones for most personal sin.  (Church News, Oct. 9, 1982, p. 19)

Romney is trying to attract the evangelical Christian vote.  He will need it in order to win the Republican nomination and the general election in November.  Is it any wonder that he would like to avoid specific questions about the doctrines of his church, particularly from evangelicals?  I predict he will dodge questions and refer frequently to this speech.  He has already set up the case that the Constitution forbids conversation about doctrine.  But the questions will dog him.  They may not be posed by the media, or by citizens in “town hall meetings.”  But the questions might be on the hearts and minds of people casting ballots in primaries over the next few months.

*Source:  Sandra Tanner
Utah Lighthouse Ministry
P. O. Box 1884
Salt Lake City, UT 84410

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