One of the people I was honoured to work with at Church of God Lay Ministries was Charles R. Beach. Lee College/University students remember him has a professor in modern languages but they also remember him as heading up Pioneers for Christ, leading students out in what we would call now short-term mission trips. He was also a key developer (along with Leonard Albert) in developing the personal evangelism programs that the department promoted and taught for many years.
Of special interest to Beach were the Mormons, with whom he had extensive contact and whose idea he had studied extensively. Boiled down to the essentials, anyone who wants to share the Gospel to a group of people need to understand a) the Gospel itself (not a given amongst our minsters) and b) the religion or thought process of the people themselves, also not a given amongst our ministers.
The LDS church has some very interesting teachings, especially dating from their early years, which they’re not forthcoming in presenting to the outside world. Probably as good of a summary of those can be found in Thelma “Granny” Gear’s Momma, Mormonism and Me, but some of these are as follows:
- God was once a man.
- God is flesh and bone.
- There are many gods.
- Adam is God.
- There is a Mother God.
- Jesus had many wives — He was a polygamist.
- Man can become a god.
All of this and more caused Beach to characterise LDS/Mormonism as a “waist down religion.” The whole thing is based on procreation, from god(s) on down. Polygamy was a key part of that until it became evident that they would have to sacrifice it on the altar of respectability (another Mormon obsession) and admission of Utah to the Union.
One of the saddest things my generation has inflicted on Christianity is, in the face of the sexual revolution and the subsequent saturating sexualisation of our society, the fact they they’ve tried to turn Evangelical Christianity into a “waist down religion.” People like Mark Driscoll come to mind first, but there are many others. The usual victims of this mentality are women. As is common in “culture war” conflicts, both sides bitterly oppose each other but at the same time have some common underlying assumptions. In this case the sexualisation of the Godhead underpins both, and some feminists have countered with referring to God as a woman, somewhat in the spirit of the Mormon “mother god.”
We can go back to the days of the Israelites and their opposing the male/female fertility pantheons around them with pure monotheism. Or we can look at the Christian Church in the wide open mores of the Roman Empire, emphasising sexual purity and abstinence in the face of that society. But no one who seriously looks at the subject can say that the God who inspired and walked through the pages of the Scriptures has a body, a gender in the proper sense of the word, or procreates sexually. That doesn’t stop the distortions that we must deal with at the present, but it certainly doesn’t justify them either.
It is evident that what we have here is a systemic failure of our Christian institutions, from the local churches to our seminaries, to properly teach the nature of God, and it is a deep shame that we have to debate them the way that we are doing now.
“I see, Sir, that you are a Prophet!” exclaimed the woman. “It was on this mountain that our ancestors worshiped; and yet you Jews say that the proper place for worship is in Jerusalem.” “Believe me,” replied Jesus, “a time is coming when it will be neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem that you will worship the Father. You Samaritans do not know what you worship; we know what we worship, for Salvation comes from the Jews. But a time is coming, indeed it is already here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father spiritually and truly; for such are the worshipers that the Father desires. God is Spirit; and those who worship him must worship spiritually and truly.”(John 4:19-24 TCNT)