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December 2, 2008

Evangelicals Heart Mormons

Well, they do now. A year ago, it was a different story. Here's what's new.


Sirs: I grow weary of carefully nuanced gentle speech that employs expressions meant not only to communicate but subtly, or not so subtly, suggest that the speaker is truly of the kind and well intentioned sort. We mince our words ever more finely today and are becoming increasingly more oriental in the process. It is quite the fashion to kowtow to the tender hearted, to appease the oh so sensitive minions of political correction, and attempt to project true humility through empty verbal formulae. This is never more apparent than in the affected language of numerous evangelical periodicals and pulpits. It may be lost on many, but I am approaching physical pain over the self-effacing pretensions of this modern double speak. Many in the public arena feel compelled not only to say the "right stuff" but to imply even greater depths of correctness behind every word. I am reminded of the two faced opponents who troubled the Galatians. Paul unmasks these Janus wannabes by exposing their hidden agenda. "They make much of you," Paul cautions, "but for no good purpose; they want to shut you out, that you may make much of them." (Gal 4:17) The crimes of their devious language lay in the fact they did not intend to communicate as much as to manipulate. They did not seek simply to impart information but to create impressions, and only those impressions which enhanced themselves in the eyes of their readers.

An example of this current trend can be found in the lead sentence to an article recently published in Christianity Today. CT, as it is known among the in crowd, is the apparent journal of record for American evangelicals with the possible exception of those who live in certain parts of South Carolina. The piece in question concerned evangelical reactions to joining forces with Mormons in matters of common social concern. The writer, who lost me with "hello," began her article with the following expression of choice:

"Many evangelicals were not quite ready for a Mormon presidential candidate this election season."

Let it be noted I have no qualms with bed fellows, odd or otherwise, who would join me in opposing the efforts of abortionists and sexual perverts to enter the main stream of acceptable conduct in our country. I would join forces with any and all comers who oppose those claiming ethical high ground while perversely attempting to reconstitute and redefine public morality in the United States. But it is a gross understatement, if not a self serving observation to say I am "not quite ready for a Mormon presidential candidate" even though he or she might share with me a common moral conviction or two.

Please look past the pseudo-gentility of this accepted idiom constantly being used in the media today. In normal conversation when one is "ready" for this or that actuality, it is assumed one stands on the brink of embracing it or is either inclined to or about to engage in it. For the record I am not, nor will I ever be "ready for a Mormon presidential candidate." Frankly, I seriously question the evangelical credentials of any who are. When Mormons are "ready" to cease polluting the Gospel with doctrines of works righteousness; when Mormons are "ready" to abandon their Arian views of Christ and confess the Trinity; when Mormons are "ready" to reject a reverence of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as saints and admit the former was an adulterous con-man and the latter a mass murderer; when Mormons are "ready" to abandon the Book of Mormon as a nonsensical concoction, a 19th century Koran; when Mormons are "ready" to recall their missionaries, leave Salt Lake, and turn their Tabernacle into a Word of Life campground; in short, when Mormons are "ready" to stop practicing Mormonism I will assume a readiness to consider a former Mormon for president.

When did this conviction of the heresy of Mormonism cease to be an absolute conviction of evangelicals? The answer: Never! The better, more honest lead-in to the article would have be phrased in this manner:

"Evangelicals are certainly not ready for a Mormon presidential candidate this election season or any other election season."

But such blatant clarity frightens those who want to appear more reflective, more tolerant, and more reasonable in the eyes of the world. When will Christianity Today stop muddying the waters with equivocating language? When will Christians simply "let their "yeas" be 'yeas'? From the looks of things, CT along with many other sensitive, gentle evangelical leaders who crank out endless streams of kindly and comforting evangelical homilies, are not quite ready to be honest and forthright.