By faith I self-identify as "Mormon" because that was what we called ourselves when I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe the faith, accept the Book of Mormon as scripture, and have received the ordinances offered by the church, including the temple rites. I appreciate and respect these rites and trust in them as a covenant between myself and God.
It is as silly a proposition for someone from my faith to "interpret" my beliefs and say I'm "not a good Mormon" or that I'm "not a faithful Mormon" as it is for the larger "Christian" community to say that Latter-day Saints aren't "Christian." (I'll get to that in Part 3) In this, however, I want to look at the criticism of Mormonism by the self-identifying "Christians."
I'll concede that Mormons don't accept Historic Christianity. I don't accept it. I think it is riddled with errors, believes in a falsely constructed set of mental gyrations which produce an incoherent definition of the Godhead that even self-proclaimed "Christians" admit they can't understand. I am not sure they could even say they actually believe it. At least those who have it explained to them don't believe it. What does "uncreate" and "of the same substance" and "not dividing the parts" of the three members of the Godhead give us, anyway? It produces a God who is "wholly other" and therefore as alien to me as the stuff living in tubes beside the volcanic openings on the bottom of the Pacific. That God (or those Gods) or whatever sense you want to make of it, is something I reject. Not only do I reject it, it repulses me. It makes me think the Historic Christian God is a complete fabrication, unscriptural in origin, incomprehensible in form, the product of such contradictory assertions that only a fool could trust in the existence of such a thing. I reject it. Period. It is damned foolish for anyone to trust in it and think it will save them. It won't. It is a complete fabrication and utter nonsense. Now, having said that, I have no interest in questioning their "Christianity." If they want to believe that, they are free to do so and call themselves Christians.
On the other hand, I do believe in Jesus Christ. Not in the sense that He's everywhere and nowhere, but that He at one time occupied an actual manger on the evening of His birth. He was baptized in water by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. His Father witnessed it; not from "inside Jesus" because they were comingled; instead the Father (a separate Being occupying a separate location) looked down, saw His Son baptized, and then sent a sign to testify of the Son while speaking in a voice heard by John the Baptist. I believe in Jesus who was crucified, died, was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb, and then rose from the dead. I believe in the man whose body was torn and had the prints of nails in His hands and feet, and who then returned to life. I believe in that Jesus. He showed those hands to 11 surviving Apostles and then to a crowd gathered in the Americas. All of them touched His physical, wounded hands. I believe in Him. Because of my belief in Him, I have done whatever I have come to understand He wanted from me. As a result, I have obtained faith in Him. Moreover, because of the things I have offered in obedience to Him, and by making an acceptable sacrifice, and enduring what others apparently are not willing in this day to endure, I know Him. I know His hands have wounds, His arms are open to welcome those who will come to Him, and He embraces those whom He saves. He is not a God of the dead or the distant, but the God of the Living. Real. Tangible. Resurrected and living now.
So when Historic Christianity presumes to judge my faith and relegate me to non-Christian, I'm absolutely willing to say I do not believe as you do. I reject, outright, what you say about Christ. It is nonsense to me, and I refuse to be included among those who claim to follow Historic Christianity. It is powerless to save. It is the doctrines of men, mingled with scripture. Your creeds are an abomination to God. He has said so. I believe Him. Consequently I MUST reject your creeds. But despite this, I still have faith in Christ. Not as you do, but as I do.
If your inauthentic, incomprehensible, creedal God wants to damn me because I do not accept the creeds of Historic Christianity, then I'm pleased to go into a lake of fire and brimstone and enjoy the heat. I think it is stupid to think that kind of flimsy and man-concocted God exists. And even more foolish to think your pious condescension is going to bind God to accept your opinions about my faith. I am Christian. Just not dazzled by your creedal nonsense.
I've studied the pre-Nicean debates, am acquainted with the political and social arguments leading up to standardizing the disputes of then-extant Christianity, and know why they returned again to adopt the follow-on creeds of the Apostles and Athenasian Creed. Here, for you good Historic Christian readers, is what your creeds say I must believe to be saved:
To me this is not merely confusion, it is complete crap. Undiluted and unfiltered. I agree there is not "three incomprehensibles" here, but dozens. And there are not "one uncreated" thing going on here, but instead many foolish mental creations launched in a torrent of contradictory and nonsensical gibberish. It is worthy of Lewis Carroll. They multiply as soon as you begin to read them. It is nothing I can, do or ever would accept; and certainly not something to be worshipped. The better approach might be to adopt Through the Looking Glass in its place. At least that nonsense is interrupted occasionally by brilliant prose. This "Christian" creedal stuff is neither prosaic nor sensible. And, all the worse, to be saved you "must thus think of the Trinity!" Well, there you go. You've set the bar too high for me. I cannot pass over. I cannot get to "Go." I surrender in my inability to manage this capacity to "thus think of the Trinity" because my mind requires something "comprehensible" rather than "incomprehensible." Or "Incomprehensible."
Christ said it was "eternal life to know" God. (John 17: 3.) Your God is by your own definition "Incomprehensible," and therefore cannot be known. So you see, you're damned too if you take this stuff seriously. Because you can't "think thus of the Trinity" and comprehend, much less "know" the only true God. So you are as damned as I in your profession of the "Incomprehensible" God of your creed.
However, I allow you the privilege of believing this stuff. I trust your sincerity when you say you do believe it. I do not question whether you are in your right mind for claiming to believe and to "think thus of the Trinity." After all, you have a whole lot of history on your side. I respect that. But I'd ask that you not presume to speak for God when you try to speak about Him. Unless He has said it, then I'm not particularly interested in what men have to say about Him. Furthermore, I do not believe Historic Christian Councils are entitled to any respect in their compromises and voting to establish the "truth" about God.
Either you've met with Him, have a message from Him, and can tell me what He said to you, or you have a political rally and you've produced merely more noise, like any political convention does.
This creedal system has resulted in a history of excesses designed to protect it from criticism and to coerce skeptics. I will touch upon that in the next post.