In my recent article, I attempted to point out the hypocrisy associated with a prominent Baptist minister’s labeling of the “Mormon Church” as a cult, and of his statement that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not true “born-again believers in Christ”. I think most who read the article, myself included, felt vindicated by the way it pointed out that the mighty Baptist Church had itself, for centuries, fit the dictionary definition of a “cult”, and that for the Southern Baptist Convention to set itself up as the measure against which all Christianity must be measured was clearly hypocritical. However, after reading and pondering a bit more on the subject, I began to realize that the real reason that I was so incensed with Pastor Jeffress’ comments was that I placed value on being labeled a Christian, and that the term “cult” carried with it negative connotations that I found insulting. I desired the one label, which was denied me by this man, but rejected the other. It didn’t take me long, then, to realize that both labels, as he applied them to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its members, were defined according to the doctrine of the Southern Baptist Convention – a doctrine which we reject as incomplete and misguided at best and, at worst, false.
So, why should I even care whether the SBC considers the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be a cult and its members not Christian? Why did I feel the need for vindication? Regardless of the reasons, I now realize that they were false and probably driven by pride. As a result, I now declare my rejection of any doctrine that does not include, among other things:
- The nature of the Godhead consistent with scriptural accounts and Joseph Smith’s first vision, and the corollary rejection of the standard Trinitarian creeds.
- The right to personal revelation from the Holy Ghost for learning, protection, and inspiration in the performance of my duties with church and family.
- The ultimate availability of the doctrines and ordinances of salvation to all men who have ever lived or who will ever live on the Earth.
- A living church, with living prophets and apostles who act as special witnesses of Christ and as the Lord’s guiding mouthpieces on the Earth today.
- The Book or Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as scripture, and the promise of additional scripture to come when we have proven ourselves ready to receive it.
- Doctrine and Covenants 121: 34–47 as scripture that stands alongside the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at the Temple as examples of how to exemplify the teachings of Christ in our personal lives.
- All of the doctrines and principles detailed in the Articles of Faith.
Therefore, if being a Christian excludes these doctrines, or any doctrine of the restoration, then I don’t need it. If teaching and testifying to the truth of these doctrines means that I am a member of a cult and somehow not “Christian”, then so be it. I know to whom I look for truth, salvation and my ultimate judgment, and the labels of men mean nothing when considered in the light of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.