There’s been a fair amount of buzz over the post at Patheos by Ben Witherington, who evidently should know better, barring the gates of Christianity against Mormonism.     

There have been some excellent theological and historical responses here and here, and I have nothing really to add to these rebuttals.

But I would like to add a [i]practical[/i] rebuttal, if “practical” is the right word.

What is the response when Muslims are told they are not Christians? My guess: “Allah be praised, we are not.”

What is the response when Jews are told they are not Christians? “Oy vey, who ever said otherwise?” Or perhaps, given the historical Christian persecution of Jews, “From your mouth to G-d’s ears.”

In other words, neither group is at all disturbed to be told they are not Christians.

But the great majority of Mormons clearly are deeply hurt when they are told they are not Christians. Why the difference?

One possibility is that the deep hurt is all feigned, or, at most, is the reaction of liars caught in a lie. And there is no lack of evidence that some critics of the Church actually believe this, and use it to excuse the pain they are inflicting on Mormons. This is a deeply uncharitable thing, but then I have from time to time sense a lack of charity among some critics of the Church. It also contradicts my own feelings (I am hurt by the accusation — for so I regard it — that I am not a Christian, and it’s for far more honest reasons than because I’m upset at being caught in a lie) and it certainly doesn’t jibe with what I’ve seen of my fellow Saints growing up in the Church.

That leaves the possibility that Mormons really do believe themselves to be Christians, and that this belief really is important to them. Otherwise, why would they care?

And — on top of all the theological and historical arguments presented so well by others — doesn’t the fact that Mormons are deeply upset at not being considered Christians a powerful practical argument that they are, in fact, Christians?

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