David V. Mason, an associate professor at Rhodes College and author
of My Mormonism: A Primer for Non-Mormons and Mormons, Alike, lets it
fly in a recent op-ed for The New York Times:
the so-called Mormon Moment: a strange convergence of developments
offering Mormons hope that the Christian nation that persecuted,
banished or killed them in the 19th century will finally love them as
to be on record about this. I’m about as genuine a Mormon as you’ll
find a templegoer with a Utah pedigree and an administrative position
in a congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I
am also emphatically not a Christian.
curious, the dispute can be reduced to Jesus. Mormons assert that
because they believe Jesus is divine, they are Christians by default.
Christians respond that because Mormons don’t believe in accordance
with the Nicene Creed promulgated in the fourth century that Jesus is
also the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Jesus that Mormons have in
mind is someone else altogether. The Mormon reaction is incredulity.
The Christian retort is exasperation. Rinse and repeat.
The theologically astute reader will note a significant problem:
orthodox Christians do not believe "that Jesus is also the Father and
the Holy Spirit", as that is not what the Nicene Creed states. The Son
is "one in being with the Father", but he is not the Father, nor is he
the Holy Spirit, as they are three divine Persons. The Athanasian Creed
states, "For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and
another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty
Small potatoes? I don't think soif only because it indicates that
Mason hasn't considered such matters very well or carefullybut Mason
apparently thinks such doctrines are essentially metaphysical
puzzles that have taken up too much time and energy over the centuries:
confident that I am not the only person Mormon or Christian who has
had enough of the acrimonious niggling from both sides over the nature
of the trinity, the authority of the creeds, the significance of grace
and works, the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and the real
color of God’s underwear. I’m perfectly happy not being a Christian. My
Mormon fellows, most of whom will argue earnestly for their Christian
legitimacy, will scream bloody murder that I don’t represent them. I
don’t. They don’t represent me, either.
Which suggests, further, how unserious Mason is about ultimate
truths, divine revelation, the issue of authority (both theologically
and historically considered), and the essential nature of dogmas,
doctrines, and creeds. After all, doesn't the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints hold that the text, The Doctrines and Covenants, is divinely inspired?
Regardless, the glaring problem with Mason's protestations is how makes
light of "the acrimonious niggling" while "acrimonious niggling" himself
with both Mormons and Christians! He makes light of serious doctrinal
differences while making a serious fuss about how he is Mormon and not a
Christian because of, uh, docrinal differences. A classic case of
making the cake, having the cake, eating the cake, and denying the cake
ever existed. Finally:
I’m with Harry Emerson Fosdick, the
liberal Protestant minister and former pastor of Riverside Church in
Manhattan, who wrote that he would be “ashamed to live in this
generation and not be a heretic.” Being a Christian so often involves
such boorish and meanspirited behavior that I marvel that any of my
Mormon colleagues are so eager to join the fold.
Mason wants it both ways; he's above the doctrinal fray, but he's proud
to be a "heretic". And what is a heretic? One who purposely and
knowingly skews and distorts orthodox doctrine. Huh. Well, I'll take
Mason's word that he is proud to be a Mormon, but it also sounds as if
he's proud to bash Christians with a brush that is absurdly broad and
patently lazy. In short, I wonder if Mason is simply a contrarian first,
a Mormon second, and a Christian never.