LDS Christianity: Differences that matter

They gather twice each year — once on the Provo, Utah, campus of Brigham Young University and once at the Fuller Theological Seminary main campus in Pasadena, Calif.

Evangelical Christians and Mormons.


In the same room.

Talking about religion.

And — believe it or not — getting along famously.

"Our meetings are extremely cordial," said Dr. Robert L. Millet, former dean of Religious Education at BYU, who has been participating in the meetings since their inception. "We have great fellowship with one another, and there's a real feeling of brotherhood and affection even though we spend hours discussing our differences."

Dr. Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote about the semiannual meetings recently in one of his articles on the Washington Post's On Faith blog site.

"We have talked for many hours about key theological issues," Mouw wrote. "We evangelicals and our Mormon counterparts disagree about some important questions. But we have also found that on some matters we are not as far apart as we thought we were."

This cooperative effort between evangelical Christian scholars and their LDS counterparts is especially noteworthy since the last two months have seen a number of highly placed evangelical Christians making comments about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In early October, Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas, called Mormonism a "cult," and another evangelical leader, Bryan Fischer, claimed that Latter-day Saints are not Christian and are therefore not entitled to First Amendment protections of religious freedom. Since those comments were made in public forums and were directed at presidential candidate Mitt Romney, they generated a media firestorm that has has generated through the ensuing weeks a good deal of public discussion on the LDS Church and whether or not it is truly Christian.

"To a Mormon, the claim that they are not Christian is confusing," said Dr. David Campbell, an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame and a leading researcher on faith in American life. "They point to the name of Jesus Christ in the church's official name and wonder how they can be considered anything other than Christian."

Without going too deeply into the theological differences, Campbell, who is LDS, suggests there is a semantic difference at work here.

Read the rest at the Deseret News.