Here is a newsletter article by Pastor Adam Moline of Immanuel and St John Lutheran Churches in Hankinson, ND. We welcome newsletter articles or other articles that may be of interest to our readers submitted to us for posting on BJS .. simply click here or click on the sidebar where it says “Have a question or an article that you want to submit for consideration here? Contact Us and we’ll consider it.”
Well the time is almost upon us again: the every four year presidential debacle. This brings up a rather “heady” topic that I would like to address in this month’s newsletter. Please bear with me and remember, as your pastor I would like to remain outwardly neutral as far as the candidates go. I have my own opinions, but it is not my place to tell you to vote for one person or the other. However, there are two questions that I keep getting asked that I would like to address. (As I do, I will do my best to remain neutral in this debate.)
The two questions are as follows: “Pastor, are Mormons Christian?” and “I can’t vote for a non-Christian can I?” I’ll take these questions one by one.
I would like to start with addressing the second question: “Can a Christian vote for and elect a non-Christian into office?” Within the Lutheran Church, we firmly hold to the scriptural idea of two kingdoms: an earthly kingdom, and a heavenly kingdom. God is king and ruler of both, but he operates in different ways to rule each kingdom.
Easiest to understand is the heavenly kingdom, as God rules his church by means His Holy Word. His work in this kingdom is to create faith in Christians through the means of Grace. (Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Word.) Thus the church falls under this kingdom, and within the church we are to be subject to nothing else but God and His Word. In this kingdom, people are taught the faith, and learn to be pious and faithful people. This kingdom deals with spiritual things only.
On the other hand is the earthly kingdom. God rules in the earthly kingdom as well by means of secular government and rulers. God has allowed the rulers that exist today to rule by only His own will and authority. He gives governments and rulers the power of the sword: that is to rule with force and power. Their duty is to maintain peace and justice in our earthly world – in relation to life, liberty, and property on earth. They are not to be involved in spiritual matters (hence our issues with the Health and Human Services Mandate).
So in the earthly kingdom, God allows earthly rulers to protect and defend their people. In other words, the Prime Minister of England rules under God’s allowance. In the same way, the President of Iran rules that country under God’s allowance – even as he does it without true faith. God allows all leaders of the world to rule and protect their people – to provide for their earthly needs, not spiritual.
In terms of the earthly kingdom, what one’s faith is does not matter. We have examples like Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar in Scripture – faithless kings that God appointed to rule for a time. Similarly, in our own world, be the ruler a Turk or a Jew or a Hindi, they all rule only because the one true Trinitarian God has allowed them to be in that position. Whoever rules is allowed to be in that position by God’s good and gracious will. God then works through the things that ruler does, for good or ill, to protect and care for the people of the earth in terms of worldly goods.
So when you go to the ballot this November (or at any election for that matter), don’t base your vote on the reported “religion” of the person running for office, instead vote for the person you believe will do the better job caring for your earthly needs. Who will give you more opportunities, who will allow you to get a better job, who will protect you militarily, etc. In the secular earthly kingdom, faith is not the chief measure. Luther himself famously said, “I’d rather be ruled by a smart Turk then a dumb Christian.” In other words, keep religion out of politics, and trust that God will do His work no matter who is in charge.
As for the Mormon religion itself, no it is not Christian, no matter what Mormons might claim for themselves. Since the founding of the Christian faith at the resurrection of Jesus (And even before that in Old Testament times) the Christian faith has been monotheistic. Monotheistic means that we believe in only one God. The Athanasian Creed itself says, “Whosoever desires to be saved must believe above all else the catholic faith…And the catholic faith is this: We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity etc.”
Throughout the ages, this Trinitarian God has been the center of the Christian faith. Even in scripture itself the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is declared to be One God. The Mormon religion denies this simple fact. They do not believe in a trinity, but instead have uncountable numbers of “gods.” In addition, the god that they most often reference, “the Father,” they believe was once a human just like you and me. This human lived a good life, and now no longer human but divine.
With these false teachings (and more), their “church” ceases to be truly Christian, and instead joins the ranks of countless non-Trinitarian cults. There are many other dangerous teachings and beliefs that they wrongly hold. These short comings, however, are in the heavenly kingdom. They have a false faith. But in the purely secular earthly realm however, they are often very “moral” and “nice” people.
Bottom line, go and vote, but remember to vote your conscience, not religion. If you believe current President Obama will do a better job than Candidate Romney based on secular credentials, by all means vote for him, and vice versa. But as a good Lutheran, please do not vote for someone only based upon their religious faith. For even if a non-Christian is the earthly ruler, remember, they are there because the one eternal heavenly king and ruler God has consented that they be there for a time. He will work through their rule to bring about his will.
Pastor Adam Moline