Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Is Mormonism Christian ?


Is Mormonism Christian ? Putting aside for now the premise that those who attempt to answer this question should first define how they understand what the term Christian means and whether or not they believe that the term Christian demands more than one meaning, it has been my experience (via articles, books, message boards and personal conversations) that many who have answered this question have done so with little clarification and consistency. For instance, the majority of Evangelicals who have answered this question have done so with a resounding NO, maintaining that the term Christian has only one meaning: someone who has been "born again"; and for one to be "born again" one must accept "the Gospel" and "the doctrine of the Trinity" as understood within the confines of conservative Evangelicalism—i.e. "the Gospel" = justification by faith alone (in Christ's atoning sacrifice and bodily resurrection), through imputation alone (imputation of 'Christ's righteousness' to the believer forensically speaking); "the doctrine of the Trinity" = one 'being' who is God existing in three 'persons'. Since Mormonism rejects "the Gospel" and "the doctrine of the Trinity", those who believe in Mormonism cannot be "born again"; as such, Mormonism cannot be "Christian".

Now, this view is problematic for some important reasons: first, the Evangelical understanding "the Gospel" was non-existent until the 16th century, meaning that if the Evangelical presuppositions are correct, there were virtually no Christians, to our knowledge, between 100 A.D. and 1517 A.D.; second, faithful members of the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Mennonite churches are not Christian, because they reject the conservative Evangelical understanding of "the Gospel"; third, some modern Evangelical scholars have raised serious doubts about the "justification by faith alone, through imputation alone" construct; and fourth, the accepted Evangelical understanding of "the doctrine of the Trinity" did not exist until Augustine of Hippo formulated it in the late 4th century/early 5th century, and a large number of Evangelical scholars are now calling into question this so-called "Latin/Western" development.

Having called into question the validity of the underlying presuppositions of the conservative, Evangelical worldview, which have precipitated a negative answer to the question at hand, I shall now turn to the Catholic paradigm. Back on June 5, 2001 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruled that baptisms performed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were not valid (see THIS THREAD for germane information on this topic).

In the document, "The Question of the Validity of Baptism Conferred in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", Fr. Ladaria wrote:

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has given a negative response to a "Dubium"regarding the validity of Baptism conferred in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,more commonly known as the Mormons. Given that this decision changes the past practice of not questioning the validity of such Baptism, it seems appropriate to explain the reasons that have led to this decision and to the resulting change of practice.

Note that, "this decision changes the past practice of not questioning the validity of such Baptism", which means that prior to June 5, 2001, LDS baptisms were valid in the eyes of the RCC.

With this in mind, the four articles which were published in the respected Catholic journal First Things, that dealt with the subject of Mormonism and Christianity, should give one cause for reflection (first; second; third; fourth).

The first article, "Is Mormonism Christian ?", by Richard John Neuhaus, was published in March 2000, which means that LDS baptisms at that time were considered valid by the Catholic Church, but Neuhaus answers the question with an emphatic NO. Note the following:

...Mormonism is inexplicable apart from Christianity and the peculiar permutations of Protestant Christianity in nineteenth-century America. It may in this sense be viewed as a Christian derivative. It might be called a Christian heresy, except heresy is typically a deviation within the story of the Great Tradition that Mormonism rejects tout court. Or Mormonism may be viewed as a Christian apostasy.

The second, is a dialogue between Bruce D. Porter, who "is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and Gerald R. McDermott, who "is Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion at Roanoke College", and was published in October 2008.  McDermott, ends his contribution with:

In sum, then, Mormon beliefs diverge widely from historic Christian orthodoxy. The Book of Mormon, which is Mormonism’s principal source for its claim to new revelation and a new prophet, lacks credibility. And the Jesus proclaimed by Joseph Smith and his followers is different in significant ways from the Jesus of the New Testament: Smith’s Jesus is a God distinct from God the Father; he was once merely a man and not God; he is of the same species as human beings; and his being and acts are limited by coeternal matter and laws.

The intent of this essay is not to say that individual Mormons will be barred from sitting with Abraham and the saints at the marriage supper of the Lamb. We are saved by a merciful Trinity, not by our theology. But the distinguished scholar of Mormonism Jan Shipps was only partly right when she wrote that Mormonism is a departure from the existing Christian tradition as much as early Christianity was a departure from Judaism. For if Christianity is a shoot grafted onto the olive tree of Judaism, Mormonism as it stands cannot be successfully grafted onto either.

The third, "Mormonism Obsessed With Christ", by Stephen H. Webb, was published in February 2012, well after the Catholic Church's negative decision concerning the validity of LDS baptisms; and yet, the stance taken by Webb is less hostile than that of Neuhaus.

And the fourth, "Mormons and Christianity: Asking the Right Questions", by Howard P. Kainz, is interesting; note the following:

Evidently, the more we know about Mormonism, the more we can see that we have been asking the wrong question . From the Mormon point of view, the question to be asked is not, “Are Mormons Christian?” but, in view of the alleged apostasy in early Christianity after the death of the Apostles, a more appropriate question would be: “Are any non-Mormons Christian?”

Posing this question changes the criteria by which we can evaluate Mormon claims, and helps put some of the more exaggerated fears of orthodox Christians into perspective. Yes, Catholics and Protestants are viewed by Mormons as practicing an incomplete Christianity (at best). This offers justification, for instance, for the Mormon practice of “baptizing the dead,” in order to bring them into communion with Jesus Christ and the Latter-day Saints. But this paradigm also means that Christians need not fear that a Mormon in the White House would not align himself with Christianity; the only reasonable fear would be that a biased Mormon occupant would look down on them as less than Christian. But fortunately Mormons, in spite of their desire to convert the world, are not noted for extreme intolerance or for an inability to work with other persuasions for the common good.
(Bold emphasis in the original.)

It seems to me that 'the Catholic answer' to the question is a bit difficult discern; perhaps it would be better to say that there are 'Catholic answers' to the question. The change in the Catholic assessment of LDS baptism back in 2001 is certainly an important one for the Catholic who attempts to address the question, and yet, one should keep in mind that the 2001 decision is not an infallible/irreformable one. This, to which we can add that the document written by Fr. Ladaria is not completely accurate, raises some concerns for me.

So, what should be the answer ? IMO, the answer is a complex one and cannot be answered without a significant number of qualifications. For those who have already formulated a response, I would like to suggest that you take serious look at the Christianity of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, as represented by the writings Church Fathers of that period, and then consistently apply the presuppositions you used to evaluate Mormonism, asking the same question of them—I think you will find that your presuppositions are a 'doubled-edged sword'—your answer should be same for both. I am sure that this view will be unsettling to many, but I cannot help but maintain that I am being consistent with my evaluation.

Looking forward to a spirited and respectful discussion...


Grace and peace,

David

13 comments:

Rory said...

The key will be with regards to how one applies the term "Christian".

I came across something recently where a Catholic saint of the 19th Century suggested that half of adult Catholics never get to heaven. I don't take the position that all Christians go to heaven, or even all Catholics, although it certainly helps to so be.

So, within that view of the word Christian, which is I think the Catholic view, I would say that Mormons are Christian:

1) Until a very short time ago, the Church accepted their baptisms at least conditionally.

---So the Mormons go from having their baptisms accepted to becoming in no respect Christian? If this what Rome intended when ruling that LDS converts required baptism? I don't think so. If they weren't in some respect, Christian, their baptisms wouldn't even have been considered.

2) As you observed, this ruling is not irreversible.

----In my personal opinion, the Latter-day Saints have such a diversity of view about the Trinity, that it is difficult to generalize and declare what Mormons believe about it. Since they allow a view of the Trinity which is incompatible with a valid baptism, even with the correct form of words, doubt about validity seems reasonable. But assurance of invalidity seems unreasonable to me.

One LDS "baptizer" may differ widely from another LDS minister of baptism. There are those who place no emphasis on Heavenly Mother, but seem to take their cues straight from the Book of Mormon, untarnished by LDS "tradition" and have what is potentially a tolerably orthodox view of the Trinity.

Since it would be too difficult to trace and inquire about the beliefs of the person who baptized the LDS convert at the time, I would always advocate at least "conditional baptism". However, I would be surprised if EVERY LDS baptism is invalid, and that is another reason why I conclude that as a Catholic, LDS must be considered Christian.

Rory

TOm said...

Hello David!
Thought I could start by an observation and a question.

I think the Catholic who holds to the development of doctrine would be consistent if they declared that folks who claim to be Christian after 4 councils and Augustine's writings AND reject the development of doctrine present in those councils are non-Christians and yet the 2nd and 3rd century Fathers who believed similarly to members of the CoJCoLDS are still Christians due to the early stages of development in which they lived. That being said, what of the "Baptismal mark?"

My question is an addition to the above. Pre-2001 there were LDS who were accepted into the Catholic Church, confirmed, but not baptized. If the 2001 decision was correct, must the Catholic Church trust those LDS converts to the mercy of God and a hope of "baptism of desire," since their supposed baptism was no baptism at all. I suspect this has been addressed by the document, but I cannot remember what it said. If you don't have that answer on top of your head, you can send me to the books too.
It seems clear that the "Baptismal Mark" is predicated upon an orthodox understanding of the Trinity and the intention of the baptizer. Would this mark not be absent for the pre-Nicene Christians who lacked an orthodox doctrine of the Trinity if it was absent for LDS?

Hope this will be an interesting topic.
Charity, TOm

David Waltz said...

Hello Rory,

Thanks much for taking an interest in this thread and commenting—your insights are always appreciated—you wrote:

== In my personal opinion, the Latter-day Saints have such a diversity of view about the Trinity, that it is difficult to generalize and declare what Mormons believe about it. Since they allow a view of the Trinity which is incompatible with a valid baptism, even with the correct form of words, doubt about validity seems reasonable. But assurance of invalidity seems unreasonable to me.==

I think few are aware the diversity you speak of (even among Mormons). Though it is rare for an LDS author to write a systematic treatment on the doctrine of God, when the task is taken up, the end result seems much less heterodox than the less thorough ones (I have the writings of Blake Ostler and David Paulsen in mind).

As for the validity of baptism, are you aware that in the time of Augustine the baptisms performed by Arian priests and bishops (I am using the term "Arian" loosely here, lumping ahomoian, homoian and homoiousian believers under the same name, as did many of the pro-Nicenes of the period) were considered valid ? I don't know when this practice changed; do you ?

Before ending, I have one more question: do you think my assessment of the conservative Evangelical position on this topic was accurate ?


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Tom,

So good to see you back !!! In your post, you wrote:

== I think the Catholic who holds to the development of doctrine would be consistent if they declared that folks who claim to be Christian after 4 councils and Augustine's writings AND reject the development of doctrine present in those councils are non-Christians and yet the 2nd and 3rd century Fathers who believed similarly to members of the CoJCoLDS are still Christians due to the early stages of development in which they lived.==

Me: Agreed. I would add that I think the Catholics have a unique advantage over the Protestants here; any doctrine without an infallible definition sure seems to remain 'open' to interpretation.

==That being said, what of the "Baptismal mark?"

My question is an addition to the above. Pre-2001 there were LDS who were accepted into the Catholic Church, confirmed, but not baptized. If the 2001 decision was correct, must the Catholic Church trust those LDS converts to the mercy of God and a hope of "baptism of desire," since their supposed baptism was no baptism at all. I suspect this has been addressed by the document, but I cannot remember what it said. If you don't have that answer on top of your head, you can send me to the books too.==

Me: Fr. Ladaria's document (link) does not address the validity of LDS baptism before the June 2001 decision (other than that there was a change in practice).

I am unaware of any Catholic treatment that directly addresses this issue. With that said, here are my own thoughts on the matter: "Arian" baptisms at this time are not considered valid, but they were, at the very least, considered valid in the 4th and 5th centuries. I don't know when this practiced changed, but the fact remains that if the correct form was used (i.e. baptism by water in the name of the Father an the Son and the Holy Sprit) the theology of the one performing the baptism, and that of the person being baptized, did not matter.

==It seems clear that the "Baptismal Mark" is predicated upon an orthodox understanding of the Trinity and the intention of the baptizer. Would this mark not be absent for the pre-Nicene Christians who lacked an orthodox doctrine of the Trinity if it was absent for LDS?==

Me: Yes, absent from the pre-Nicene Christians, some of the post-Nicene Christians, and certainly all those rejected the pro-Nicene position (e.g. the so-called "Arians", modalists, Macedonians, et al.).

I am not sure how Catholics reconcile all this. Perhaps Rory, or some other Catholic who may drop by, can address this issue for us.


Grace and peace,

David

Rory said...

Tom, Dave. Greetings.

If I am not mistaken, the practice was not unconditional acceptance of LDS baptisms, but for conditional baptism. They have since moved to a position of unconditional rejection of LDS baptism. I have been conditionally baptized and so has my wife even though we were both probably baptized by Evangelical types.

More later if I can about the baptisms of Arian types.

Rory said...

Regarding the "baptismal mark", I have to diagree with both of you. It is most certainly not dependent on an orthodox understanding of the Trinity. Anybody, a Jew, or atheist can be the minister of a valid baptism with no knowledge whatsoever of Catholic doctrine. Right? They merely have to be willing to "do what the Church does" in baptizing.

There is obviously a difference between the non-Catholic cooperating with Catholic baptism, and the non-Catholic with their own institutional doctrines giving what is certainly not considered Catholic baptism.

With the early Arians they were "attempting Catholic baptism", however flawed their doctrine. I would even suggest that an Arian today, who at the request of a dying man who wants to be baptized Catholic, could administer a valid baptism if he chose to. This of course would not apply when he is administering a baptism for another Church whose Trinity doctrine is insufficient.

I think you will agree on reflection then that...

1) The baptismal character is dependent on valid baptism, with or without pure orthodoxy.

2) The intent of the minister of baptism needs to be considered. If it is a Catholic baptism that is intended, false doctrine would be no hindrance. Any Mormon could baptize someone Catholic in an emergency, our of good will, intending to do what the Catholic Church does and it would be valid.

Of course the declaration about LDS baptisms were not in regard to and LDS who was in the situation described above. I am 100% confident that the teaching of the Church is that with proper intention, doctrinal orthodoxy is not needed. The early Arians would have had that proper intention, as would all pre-Nicene baptisms. Where that intent is probably lacking, and where doctrinal orthodoxy is also doubtful, the baptism will be doubtful. It seems to me like all you need is either, 1) The correct intention, or 2) Orthodoxy.

I think that can perhaps explain why the Church has treated Arians differently over the centuries.

Rory said...

I found an interesting comment this morning perhaps bearing upon the questions that have been raised:

"What therefore is distinct in the two heresies themselves, clear reason declares, because the Pauliniasts do not at all baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost, and the Novatians do baptize in the same tremendous and venerable names, and among them the question has not ever been raised concerning the unity of the divine power, that is of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

From St. Innocent I, 401-417 AD,
commenting on canon 56 of the Council of Nicea which made the distinction between Pauliniasts who wanted to be received into the Church, and Novatians who wanted to be received into the Church. (Denz. 97)

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

I have been pondering over your last couple of posts (when I am not watching the US Open [grin]), and sincerely appreciate your thoughts on this somewhat complex topic. My own assessments of your reflections lean towards the opinion that you may be focusing a bit too much on the current Catholic position, which seems to me to be tainting your reading of the earlier Catholic position (i.e 2nd - 5th centuries). From my readings of the Fathers of that period, THE issue was whether or not the ones baptizing, and those being baptized, used the proper formula (i.e. in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and method (i.e. water). Their respective doctrines of God did not determine if their baptisms were valid. Last night, I went back and reread one of the best treatments (to my knowledge) of this earlier period of Catholic thought on baptism—Bingham's, Origines ecclesiasticæ (HERE)—wherein we read:

>>The Arians corrupted the faith, but they still retained the Catholic form of baptism, till Eunomius brought in another form among them. And that is the true reason, why both the first general-council of Constantinople, and the council of Trullo ordered the Eunomians to be rebaptized, at the same time that they appointed the other Arians to be received by imposition of hands only, without a new baptism. And the second council of Arles made a like decree concerning the Bonosiaci, or followers of Bonosus, bishop of Sardica, who were a branch of the Arians, "that because they retained baptism in the Catholic form, as they there say the other Arians did, therefore it should be sufficient, after the confession of a true faith, to receive them with chrism and imposition of hands without a new baptism." Which is demonstration, that neither the ancient Arians before Eunomius, nor the Bonosians after him, had made any alteration in this matter; but though they had corrupted the faith, yet they retained the ancient form of baptizing used in the Catholic Church...the observation of the form of baptism was always esteemed so necessary a part of the institution, and so essential to the sacrament, that where it was wanting, the baptism was reputed an imperfect and void baptism, and to be repeated by all the rules made against heretics in the Catholic Church. (Origines ecclesiasticæ, vol. 3, pp. 444, 445 - 1843, 9 vol. edition.)>>

It sure seems to me that the current position of the Catholic Church concerning Arian baptisms is not the same as the earlier one. As one who believes in the development of doctrine, such a change in theory is not an example of error; but, with that said, I still ask myself WHY and WHEN the change was made.

Perhaps I have misunderstood your thoughts on this matter, if so, please forgive me; and when you get the time, I would greatly appreciate some further clarification...


God bless,

David

Rory said...

Dave Hi.

Big win tonight!

So I am of the opinion that Mormons are Christian, and that LDS baptisms can't be rejected because of being unorthodox. Fr. Ladaria seems to try to emphasize that LDS beliefs are way worse than Arianism from our perspective. While this is an accurate observation, that would be a new development. Maybe it is warranted. But I really couldn't say this early into the history of the matter. Form has been adequate as you correctly observe.

The question of intention of the minister is my focus. I thought Ladaria scored some points in recognizing that unlike the Arians, Mormons believe baptism to have been initiated through Adam rather than Christ. Although I am not committed to it, it is reversible as you point out, this would be what I would explore as one who needs to give Fr. Ladaria the benefit of the doubt.

There needs to be an examination of the meaning of "do what the Church does". If that means to give regeneration, clearly many Protestant bapotisms previously accepted fail to qualify. I submit that "do what the Church does", has very little to do with the by product of baptism.

Later, God Bless.

Rory

Rory

Vicki DePalma said...

Are you *currently* being sent into Hell forever ... automatically excommunicated (outside) of God’s Catholic Church ?

Answer: Yes you are ... you can reverse it ... please continue.

Council of Florence, Session 8, 22 Nov 1439 -- infallible Source of Dogma >
"Whoever wills to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he holds the Catholic faith. Unless a person keeps this faith whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish eternally."

You must believe the Catholic Dogma to be in the Church ... Dogma you have *never* seen.

Site > Immaculata-one.com ... infallible Dogma throughout.

The Catholic Faith *is not* Bible interpretation ... it is the Catholic infallible Sources of Dogma. The Catholic Church didn’t even define the Bible’s New Testament Canon until 397 A.D. at the Council of Carthage.

- - - -

Can a group which enforces the opposite, the opposite, and the opposite of the Catholic unchangeable Dogma be the Catholic Church?

No, it cannot possibly be the Catholic Church ... and promotion of the opposite of the Catholic Dogma is exactly what the vatican-2 heretic cult does ... and has been doing since it’s founding on 8 December 1965 at the Vatican.

The vatican-2 heresy does not have the Office of the Papacy ... only the Catholic Church has the Papacy.

The Dogma cannot “change” or be “reversed” ... God does not “change”.

The founding documents of the vatican-2 heretic cult … the “vatican-2 council” documents … have well over 200 heresies *against* prior defined unchangeable Dogma. Every (apparent) bishop at the “council” approved the mountain of heresy, which caused their automatic excommunication, see Section 13.2 of the below site.

- - - -

Section 12 > Anti-Christ vatican-2 heresies (50 listed) ... followed by many Catholic corrections.

Sections 13 and 13.1 > Photographic *proof* of heresy at the Vatican.

Because of … the Catholic Dogma on automatic excommunication for heresy or for physical participation in a heretic cult (such as the v-2 cult) …

… we were all placed, body and soul, *outside* of Christianity (the Catholic Church) on 8 December 1965 … the close date of the “council”.

Section 13.2 > Catholic Dogma on automatic excommunication for heresy or participating in a heretic cult such as ... vatican-2, lutheran, methodist, evangelical, etc.

Section 107 > St. Athanasius (died 373 A.D.) ... “Even if the Church were reduced to a handful ...” - - during the “arian” heresy ... we are there again, but worse.

Section 13.3 > Matt 16:18, Gates of Hell scripture ... is *not* about the Office of the Papacy ... four Dogmatic Councils defined it ... that heresy will not cause the Dogma to disappear.

Section 13.4 > The vatican-2 heretic cult does not have the Office of the Papacy only the Catholic Church has the Papacy.

Section 13.6 > The Catholic Dogma on Jurisdiction and Automatic Excommunication for heresy define that ... God has allowed Catholic Jurisdiction ... for Mass and Confession to disappear from the world. There is no such thing as Catholic Mass outside of the Catholic Church.

Non-Catholic heresies such as “vatican-2”, “sspx”, “sspv”, “cmri”, etc. ... do not have Catholic Mass.

Section 19.1 > Dogma on Abjuration for *re-entering* Christianity (the Catholic Church) … after being automatically excommunicated. A Formal Abjuration is provided here also.

Section 10.2 > Returning to a state of grace, in places and times when Confession is not available, like now.

- - - -

Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D. -- infallible Source of Dogma >
"The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy."

Blessed John Eudes, died 1680 >
“The greatest evil existing today is heresy, an infernal rage which hurls countless souls into eternal damnation.”

Everything you must know, believe, and do to get to Heaven is on > > Immaculata-one.com.

Victoria
Our Lady of Conquest
Pray for us

Rory said...

Victoria. Hi. Thank you for your well-referenced and earnest plea. May God bless you on your journey of faith.

Your post brings to mind the Gospel read this last Sunday in which we beheld ten lepers standing afar from Jesus, crying out that He, the Son of David, would have mercy upon them. It appears to me that our Lord gives evidence here, as He does in many other ways, that He affirms the continuing authority of the priestly ministries of the sons of Levi in His own day. He tells them to show themselves to the priests.

We all know what infidelities the priests committed throughout the Old Testament, resulting in various chastisement from the just hand of God. After several destructions of the original temple at Jerusalem for their sins, a heathen king, Herod, built another costly temple, even sometimes identified with his own name as Herod's Temple. But Christ called it His Father's House.

I am convinced that the Bride of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church is founded on greater and better promises than that which came by means of Moses and the priests of Aaron his brother. It would have been a mistake, albeit a reasonable one to look at the religious scene when Jesus arrived in the flesh and conclude that everything had been lost.

It seems to me like the visible Catholic Church appears as a weedy and fruitless vineyard today as well. I should not like to evaluate the vineyard according to the natural light of reason which might give me pause to think that the Church has no visible authority today. I can see why you say what you do, but by the light of faith, I believe that Christ founded His visible Church on greater promises than those given to Moses. He says to us what He said to the ten lepers, "Show yourself to the priests."

Regards,

Rory

Rory said...

Was this question about baptism the main concern you had in starting the thread Dave? I fear I haven't answered satisfactorily and would be glad to hear any further criticism you might have. My views on this question are by no means settled.

Obviously, development in the Church's understanding of baptism came with the Donatists and Arians. After consideration, I now tend to think that if LDS doctrines had arrived in the third and fourth centuries, that the Church might have been more troubled about their baptisms than about the heretical groups of their day that they accepted, even though they used the correct form.

I also think it is easy for us to underemphasize the significance of Jesus as the source for the form of words in both the Eucharist and in Baptism. Sacramentally speaking it is Jesus who is baptizing. If the Arians or Donatists had claimed that baptism originally came from Adam, it seems like it might have been more problematic. It would be Adam's baptism, and not the baptism instituted by Christ.

-------

If Victoria replies, I think we will be able to turn the discussion back towards Mormonism. Like Mormons, she appears convinced that theological error or bad behavior can eradicate the priesthood. This itself is heretical and contrary to Catholic Tradition and orthodox Sacramental Theology.

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Yesterday, you wrote:

== Was this question about baptism the main concern you had in starting the thread Dave? I fear I haven't answered satisfactorily and would be glad to hear any further criticism you might have. My views on this question are by no means settled.==

Me: No, the question concerning Mormonism was much broader than just the issue of baptism, though baptism is certainly a component that needs to be addressed when one attempts an answer.

==Obviously, development in the Church's understanding of baptism came with the Donatists and Arians. After consideration, I now tend to think that if LDS doctrines had arrived in the third and fourth centuries, that the Church might have been more troubled about their baptisms than about the heretical groups of their day that they accepted, even though they used the correct form.==

Me: Before the Donatist and Arian controversies, there were the Montanists, which one could argue, held some similarities to Mormonism. Off of the top of my head, I do not know if Montanist baptisms where considered valid.

==I also think it is easy for us to underemphasize the significance of Jesus as the source for the form of words in both the Eucharist and in Baptism. Sacramentally speaking it is Jesus who is baptizing. If the Arians or Donatists had claimed that baptism originally came from Adam, it seems like it might have been more problematic. It would be Adam's baptism, and not the baptism instituted by Christ.==

Me: I think the Mormon understanding of baptism in Adam's day is that it was in the name of the Father, Son and HG. (I may be wrong on this, hopefully Tom will drop by again and address this.)

BTW, I just finished reading a very interesting book by Stephen H. Webb (one of the authors of the First Things articles that I linked to in my opening post). A preview of the book is available via Google Books:

Mormon Christianity

I am planning new thread to discuss the book in the near future...


Grace and peace,

David