Why the divide?

Morehead’s Musings has an extended interview with Armand Mauss, an LDS sociologist who has done extensive research and writing on sociological aspects of the LDS Church. Mauss concisely states my core question about the Evangelical rejection of the LDS Church as ‘Christian’:

I recognize that there are some serious theological issues that make Mormons seem especially scary to many Evangelicals. In one way or another, most of those issues seem to shake down to doctrines of deity. Mormonism will never be able to accommodate the traditional Trinitarian theology, and that theology, in turn, seems to be the “litmus test” of “true” Christianity for Evangelicals. When Mormons, in all sincerity, claim to believe in the divinity of Jesus, and in His indispensible salvific role in human history, Evangelicals tend to dismiss such claims because they are not made within the context of Trinitarian theology. There is some irony in this Evangelical dismissal of the “Mormon Jesus,” since many surveys in recent decades have shown that many, if not most, of the modern clergy of the “Protestant mainline” do not believe in the literal divinity of Jesus or in His literal resurrection. Yet no one would claim that these denominations –- or even their clergy — are “not Christians.” Evangelicals also object to Mormon doctrines about the role of Jesus in the pre-existence, and/or the Mormon conception of God as once mortal – even though such ideas are strictly theoretical and play no part whatever in modern Mormon worship, or in the de facto Mormon focus exclusively on the God of Abraham as the only God ever encountered in Mormon scriptures and discourse. For some reason, these theoretical Mormon “embellishments” on doctrines about deity disqualify them from the “Christian” label, but Roman Catholics are not disqualified by the elaborate cult of Mary, or by such doctrines as the immaculate conception or transubstantiation, none of which are strictly biblical. It seems that for mainline Catholics and Protestants, all extra-biblical ideas are forgivable as long as they embrace a Trinitarian deity, but Mormons can’t be permitted their extra-biblical ideas and still be part of the Christian “family.”

I am no theologian, and I must confess that I find theological disputes generally tedious; as a social scientist, my main interest in theology is pretty much limited to its implications for behavior. I guess that’s why I find it difficult to understand why the “divide” has to be so “wide” between Mormons and Evangelicals.

Read the whole thing. ..bruce w..

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