CLARIFYING THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN STETZER AND LAND ON MORMONISM

BY WM. DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

OCTOBER 22, 2012

I recently published a Blog Post that inaccurately and unfairly conflated the published positions of Ed Stetzer and Richard Land as it relates to how these Southern Baptist Convention leading figures view Mormonism. The purpose of this writing is to briefly and accurately make the distinction between their beliefs crystal clear and to publically apologize to Ed for having done so.

Here is my quote unfairly conflating and equating Stetzer’s and Lands’ positions on Mormonism:

“Even Ed Stetzer and Richard Land have taken a softer view on labeling Mormonism as a cult. Why? Stetzer and Land want to label Mormonism a fourth great world religion. Why? Unbelievable! Are Southern Baptists that desperate to elect Mitt Romney?”

Now to set the record straight, Stetzer makes it undeniably clear that he maintains that Mormonism is a cult, although he makes a case for distinguishing between Mormons being viewed as a theological cult as opposed to a sociological cult. Stetzer then goes on to argue for Mormonism to be viewed as another world religion without denying that Mormonism is a cult. Here are Stetzer’s exact unedited words as they appeared in a Christianity Today article:

“Mormonism fits the traditional evangelical definition of a ‘theological cult,’ but that is not what most Americans think of when they think of a cult; they think of a compound in Waco. I think it is more helpful to call it a different religion, like Islam and Judaism, and to share the gospel of Jesus with them accordingly.”
Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research

Based on the above quote, I labeled Stetzer’s position as taking a “softer view on labeling Mormonism as a cult.” He objects to that characterization of his position, and I agree with him. He does think it is “helpful to call it [Mormonism] a different religion, like Islam and Judaism, and to share the gospel of Jesus with them accordingly.” I hope this clarifies Stetzer’s position and underscores the point that he never denied that Mormonism is a cult.

Richard Land unequivocally refers to Mormonism as a “fourth Abrahamic faith,” without labeling Mormonism a cult. Here are Land’s exact words unedited from http://apprising.org/2010/08/31/sbcs-richard-land-says-mormonism-fourth-abrahamic-faith:

“I think perhaps the most charitable way for an evangelical Christian to look at Mormonism is to look at Mormonism as the fourth Abrahamic faith.” …“Not a Christian faith.”

By referring Mormonism as “the fourth Abrahamic faith” and not labeling it a cult, it appears that Land is trying to dignify and legitimize Mormonism to make it more palatable to the SBC and the masses. Land’s view of Mormonism is equally as damaging to me as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s view. They have essentially adopted the same position. I hope this clarifies this matter.

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