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|Romney and Mormon Doctrine|
Jun. 11th, 2007 at 6:53 am
Today’s New York Times quotes John Dehlin to the effect that Mitt Romney is not steadfast, is shady (i.e. not “up front”), lacks integrity, and is inconsistent. It is unclear what these judgments are based on, but these were not the only notable comments relating to Romney and Mormonism in today’s newspaper article. The impetus behind such comments, especially in the context of the rest of the NYT article, seems to be that Romney is somehow misrepresenting the Mormon faith or Mormon doctrine.
More interesting in this regard, perhaps, is the following commentary in the article:
Tom Grover’s listeners (apparently) were incredulous at Romney’s comment that Latter-day Saints believe that Christ will return again to the Mount of Olives just like creedal Christians believe.
The scriptures read and believed by Latter-day Saints weigh against Tom Grover’s incredulous listeners and against Tom Grover’s own presentation of the issue. After all, the Doctrine and Covenants reiterates the Old Testament prophecy in Zecharia (Zech. 14:4-9) that Christ will appear at the Mount of Olives, dividing it asunder:
To what extent can LDS radio listeners who call in to a radio talk show and voice their own misunderstanding of “Mormon Doctrine” be determinative for whether Romney is being disingenuous in how he is portraying the faith? The Tenth Article of Faith is irrelevant to the question of whether Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus will appear to the view of all the world at the Mount of Olives, smashing it in two, at the Second Coming. Latter-day Saints believe in addition to this fantastic and incredible tale — but not instead of — in further fantastic and incredible tales. Grover’s listeners should not be incensed when Romney reinforces that Latter-day Saints join creedal Christians in believing in Christ’s Second Coming at the Mount of Olives.
It is unclear why Grover would present it as some sort of categorical thing — Latter-day Saints believe that Christ will also play a role in the New Jerusalem that is to be built on the American continent so therefore we don’t believe that Christ will appear at the Mount of Olives at the Second Coming. This simply isn’t true. “Zion” being built on the American continent does not negate and is in fact irrelevant to whether Latter-day Saints believe that Christ will appear at the Mount of Olives. It is a mischaracterization to suggest that there is a fundamental tension or any kind of incongruity between these two occurences.
Finally, it is also curious that Mitt Romney would need to answer questions about the Latter-day Saint view of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in a political debate or as part of his campaign for political office in the United States of America. A belief that the New Jerusalem will be built on the American Continent is not necessarily any more bizarre than a belief in transubstantiation, Rapture, reincarnation, salvation by grace alone, religious salvation of any kind whatsoever, heaven or hell, the devil, Greco-Roman deities, Quetzalcoatl, or anything outside of our empirical capacity at all.