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Eric & Melanie Barger
Mormons are Christians?
Joel Osteen Declares Romney’s Jesus is Our Jesus
By Eric Barger
On December 23, 2007, reporter Chris Wallace interviewed Pastor Joel Osteen on the Fox Television Network’s “Fox News Sunday” program. Osteen, whose own television program is broadcast worldwide each week and who pastors what is touted as the largest church in the United States (Lakewood Church of Houston, Texas), was quizzed on a number of issues during the interview.
Chris Wallace introduced Joel Osteen as a teacher of “Personal growth and positive thinking” – buzzwords that make biblical thinkers wary but exploring that must wait for another time. Before long, the discussion turned to presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee and the controversy concerning Romney’s Mormon beliefs. It was then that the supposedly Evangelical pastor of America’s largest congregation declared that Mormons are Christians and that Mitt Romney is himself a “Christian.” Here is the transcript. (1)
Wallace: “Is a Mormon a true Christian?”
Osteen: “Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior and that’s what I believe. So, you know I’m not the one to judge the little details of it. So, I believe they are. And so I, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me and, ah, I don’t think anything would stop me from voting for him if that’s what I felt like.”
Wallace: “So, so for instance when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church and the golden tablets in upstate New York and ah, God assumes the shape of a man; do you not get hung up in those theological issues?”
Osteen: “I probably don’t get hung up in ‘em because I haven’t really studied ‘em or thought about ‘em. And ah, you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know, I certainly can’t say that I agree with everything I’ve heard about it. But, from what I’ve heard from Mitt when he says that Christ is his savior to me that’s a common bond."
As the exchange went on, I was struck by the fact that Chris Wallace appeared to be far more knowledgeable about Mormonism than did the pastor of America’s largest church. How sad. But the question still remains: is Mormonism compatible with Christianity? Just because Mitt Romney, Joel Osteen or anyone else claims that “Jesus Christ is their lord and savior” does not automatically mean that they are talking about the authentic biblical Jesus.
Let’s allow the words of the current Mormon President, Gordon B. Hinckley, to educate us as to whether the Mormon Jesus (and Mormonism) and the biblical Jesus (and Christianity) are one in the same. After all, a person can sincerely believe in and place their complete trust and confidence in a “Jesus” and then perish for all eternity if the Jesus being worshipped is but a counterfeit. (See II Corinthians 11:3-4.) What if the Mormon Jesus isn’t the biblical one?
President Hinckley, like all Mormon Presidents before him, is revered by the LDS people as the mouthpiece of God and referred to as “prophet, seer and revelator” for the Church. When Hinckley addressed a gathering of 6,600 young Mormon missionaries assembled in Paris in 1998, he was speaking in this capacity.
In their account of the event, the Mormon-owned news agency, The Deseret News, reported, "In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ.' (Hinckley said) ‘No, I don't. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness (sic) of Times...In this dispensation, the Lord has declared that this Church (Mormon) is the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth." (1) (Emphasis added)
According to their own prophet, the Mormon Jesus is not the traditional Jesus and the Mormon Church is the only “true and living Church” on the planet today!
Also, to clear up the current public controversy between candidates Romney and Huckabee, Mormon authority and First Council of The Seventy member, Milton R. Hunter, made clear that in Mormonism Lucifer and Jesus are indeed “brothers.”
“He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind.”
(Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, p.15)
The Bible teaches that Jesus is divine and not angelic and that Lucifer (Satan) is angelic and not divine. Instead, Mormonism proclaims that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man …” and “… You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you …” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345, 348). Mormonism teaches that both Jesus and Lucifer became “gods,” just as the central LDS teaching proclaims: “As Man is God once was and as God is Man may become.” Can it be any clearer? The “Jesus” taught in Mormonism is not the Christian Jesus. Period.
Taking biblical stands on issues such as Mormonism seems to be at a premium today. Few leaders seem to have the courage to present dogmatic positions when quarried on the realities of false teachers and false teaching. Some misguided Christian leaders have even gone so far as to apologize to Mormons for the likes of apologetically minded Christians like me who have rightly identified Mormonism as a false and worthless religion. Joel Osteen’s statements on Fox New Sunday are a prime example of a Christian leader trying to straddle a dangerous fence. By not wanting to take a position and thus separate himself (and Christianity in general) from the most notable organized cult in America today, Osteen is actually agreeing with a non-Christian religion whose truly aberrant, cultic theology has trapped millions and blinded them from the identity of the real Jesus.
Out of the fear of men or from the fear of lost income, so many evade the questions or just give in to the pressure to accept anyone who can spell Jesus as some sort of “Christian.” I admit that it’s not fun when you are branded as a “radical” or “Fundamentalist” in a negative sense or being accused of spouting “hate speech” because you are defending the faith. Anyone who stands up for biblical truth and sound doctrine is going to experience all of that eventually. But whether it be on national television or one-on-one over coffee, have we forgotten that God is listening to every slippery parsed word we dare utter when trying to please everyone? The integrity of our leaders must be questioned when they fail to enunciate biblical truths in lieu of maintaining popularity. However, I am not completely without grace here. Certainly, nobody is perfect, including yours truly. We all have flaws and imperfections and I am acutely aware that God is continually convicting and working on me. However, taking biblical stands on unpopular issues is not one of my weak suites. I learned a long time ago that those who try to walk in the middle of the road usually are hit by cars coming from both directions!
In closing, allow this dynamic quote from A.W. Tozer’s "The Old Cross and the New" to draw the line between true courage and lukewarm compromise. The question is which side will you stand on?
"We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world.
We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum."
(1) Click here to watch entire Joel Osteen interview on Fox News Sunday or Link to Mormonism segment of interview
(2) Note on Hinckley quote: I personally found the article this quote came from in the LDS Church News Archives, Saturday, June 20, 1998. Until mid 2007, this article could be viewed at http://www.desnews.com/cgi-bin/libstory_church?dn98&9806210091 but it has since been moved. The article currently appears at: http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/31188/Crown-of-gospel-is-upon-our-heads.html)
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