Wednesday, February 06, 2008

At Long Last

It's a regular Blogapalooza at the Red Shirt HQ today! Turns out, high and wired on Robitussin last night until at least 3 a.m. (on the bright side, while I'm *this close* to collapsing on my desk, my cough is almost gone!), I had lots of time to think about blog posts and sort my thoughts. I've been promising a more comprehensive post about why I will definitely not support Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination, and may very well not support him for President should he somehow, at this late hour, still secure the nomination. So, without further ado, here we go.

As I have mentioned before, it is indeed Mitt Romney's Mormonism that is the primary barrier to my support. I am not ashamed to admit this. As has been mentioned elsewhere (I forget where, or I'd link it), were Mitt Romney, say, an Episcopalian, he'd have my enthusiastic support at this point (err, well, maybe the ones that split off from the the apostate twits that ordained these theological cretins) -- although not prior to Fred Thompson's withdraw from the race. And that's saying something, since I consider that particular denomination to be at best nominally Christian. While his flip-flops are a serious weakness as the Last Scion of True Conservatism, they're not the fatal flaw to me that his faith is.

My objection to his faith takes on two complementary forms: objections to his theology, and objections from my own theology. First, his theology. Mormon theology, as I've said before, is, at best, a wacky leap of faith. At worst, it defies reason in ways the author of this never could have anticipated. The Book of Mormon provides a historical record of North and South America that science, history, and archaeology consistently refute in virtually every detail; meanwhile, those things presented most directly as historical in Scripture rather than allegorical are consistently being affirmed and verified by the same. At the same time, it insults my faith by attempting to insinuate itself both as "just another Christian denomination" and "the only True Faith". Never mind that it was founded by a man who, as a matter of historical record, was a charlatan evangelist of the very worst sort (far be it from me to not acknowledge that God uses the weak and sinful to great purpose, a la King David, but at least he sinned and repented -- Joseph Smith seems to have displayed a rather consistent pattern of behavior). I could go on, but it's not my intent to deconstruct Mormonism here, merely to demonstrate that belief in something so patently absurd (and let me anticipate some objections to my own Christian faith along these same lines -- there is a vast difference between unfalsifiable and actually proven false) speaks volumes about a person's character -- or lack thereof. I have critically approached my own faith through study and reason and come out stronger for it. Do Mormons do this? Can Mormons do this?

Second, my own Christian theology raises objections, I believe, to voting for Mitt Romney, solely on the basis of his Mormonism. Let me first state: I know from Scripture that all Government is established and ordained by God. Additionally, God is clearly not averse to using the non-faithful in positions of great power to further His Divine Will, both as corrective measures to His people (think Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian captivity of Jews) or as opportunities to build His Kingdom on Earth and glorify Himself and His people (e.g., Artaxerxes commissioning and funding Nehemiah to oversee the reconstruction of the Jerusalem wall). Thus, if God, in His infinite Wisdom, chose to place Mitt Romney at the head of this erstwhile "Christian Nation", He would have done so for a reason. I would (admittedly, somewhat grudgingly) assent to his (and His) leadership, albeit bracing for whatever calamity might be about to befall us, albeit with a Godly hope for the future.

Nevertheless, Scripture provides, I believe, guidance in this regard. 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV), for instance, states, "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" A vote for a presidential candidate is an endorsement of that individual, and it forms an association between voter and candidate. If it did not, why the "Don't blame me, I voted for the other guy" bumper stickers? Thus, we are effectively "yoking" ourselves to those for whom we vote, for better or worse. Therefore, there is some moral responsibility on us, as Christians, for whom we support to be our leaders. Additionally, it's almost as if some omniscient Being anticipated Mormonism (and/or Islam, admittedly) when He inspired Paul to write "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" (NASB)

Furthermore, consider the Holy Spirit. Each of us, as Christians, received the Holy Spirit as a gift from God upon confession of Jesus Christ as Lord (or at least, arguably, from Baptism). The Holy Spirit serves as Comforter, Counselor, Protector, Helper, and a host of other, Scripturally described roles. Granted, many nominal Christians who indeed play host to the Holy Spirit fail to heed Its guidance, but because of his Mormon faith, Mitt Romney cannot do so. To elect a leader of this country, and to invest in him such great power, while he lacks the intimate connection with God that could, and should, guide his every move, would again be morally irresponsible for Christians.

Next, as I have previously described, it is becoming increasingly important to me to "seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness" in all things. That being the case, I cannot justify to myself a vote for a Mormon candidate, and then imagine standing before the Throne of God saying "Lord, I thought I was doing Your Will when I cast my lot for a man who repudiated your Holy Word by means of his own faith".

Finally, let me address that shameful line "We're electing the President, not the Pastor", or its many variations. That's a trite, drive-by slander used exclusively by either Romney supporters or Huckabee detractors in a quick, effortless attempt to embarrass critics into submission, and has no merit whatsoever -- particularly when expressed by those who maintain their own Christian faith. Of course we're not electing a pastor. Nobody has suggested otherwise; and I defy anyone to find a living soul who would actually want the President of the United States to weigh in on their faith in some official capacity! Nevertheless, as I have already stated above, I want my President to be guided by those Judeo-Christian principles that have made our country great thus far, and I want him to seek God's face, His blessing, and His wisdom in any decision he might make that might affect me in even the most insignificant manner.

To conclude, I believe I have made my case for why I cannot vote for Mitt Romney. Please note that none of the preceding discussion gives any particular guidance on whom to vote for: after all, Huck, McCain, Hillary, and Obama are all ostensibly Christian. To all my Christian readers who may be Romney supporters: consider what I have said, look up any referenced scriptures for yourself, and come to your own conclusions. Pray about it (what, you don't think God will give you wisdom when you ask for it faithfully?). I'm willing and eager to be corrected in any of my own theological conclusions, and I certainly don't mean to offend anyone based solely on their own policy preferences. If you're a Romney supporter now or even from the beginning, I don't think any less of you as a person or as a Christ follower. To any Mormon readers I might have, however unlikely that might be: if I have offended you, I genuinely hope it is on a spiritual level and not a personal one. If the latter, I sincerely apologize. If the former, I hope it spurs you on to action. Critically investigate your own faith and its origins, and contrast that with the faith in Christ as presented in the Christian Scriptures.

Whew. That took a lot more effort than I thought it might. No wonder I procrastinated for so long. But there you have it. And thanks for reading this far. May God bless you and grant you wisdom in all your future political decisions. And may He grant me a good night's sleep tonight, sans Robitussin. Amen.

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Anonymous Marty said...

Ben: Here I basically repeat the comment I made in the related thread at Mazurland (hey, if you can blog-pimp, so can I.)

Outstanding, Ben. A tour de force. If you had only provided references for your assertions regarding the historical falseness of the Book of Mormon, I could have doubly thanked you for almost obviating the need for me to write my semi-promised justification for my assertion that Mormons are theologically crazy. What comes out of your brief, as well as others I have read, is that Smith was a mendacious charlatan. Many of those who followed him were unreflective dupes. I'm not sure I can follow the conclusion your analysis lead you to. Romney was born into the faith, and as I've said before, it is difficult for me to prejudge a man based on the faith he was born into because of the difficulty of escaping its psychology, particularly if much of the loony ahistoricity is cleverly smoothed over in a strangely post-modern way when presented to the young. And the loonier aspects of this Mormon psychology seem to have become attenuated over the decades. (Yes, they're intense people, focused people, but they're not obvious lunatics as Mormons of the past (or some current offshoot Mormon fundies) or mind-numbed morons as most Scientologists. But your dissertation provides more food for thought.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Fair enough. Most of the reading I have done about Mormons was in print rather than on the web, so I didn't provide links. For a condensed treatment, the relevant chapter in Walter Martin's indispensable Kingdom of the Cults (latest edition edited and updated by one of my heroes, Ravi Zacharias) is useful, and for a more thorough examination of their history and tenets, check out One Nation Under Gods by Richard Abanes, which provides a more dispassionate treatment than some of the more controversial anti-Mormon tracts (e.g., Under the Banner of Heaven, which I've only browsed).

Perhaps I should have made it clearer that the first point (Romney's theology) was the lesser of the reasons for opposing him, rather than the second (my theology). I think I provided ample, if not sufficient, reasons for the second, which is why I more-or-less glossed over the first. Plus, I had to leave some work for you to do!

I should also note that the second set of justifications could apply to all non-Christian religions, although I could probably come up with some personal and theological exceptions for an exceptionally qualified Jewish candidate.

3:57 PM  

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