As some of you know, I have spent the past year working on my MA in Religion through Liberty Seminary.  I’m an online student, so I haven’t had to visit the campus.  But I graduate this May, and Liberty makes no distinction between online and traditional students.  Thus, my commencement is exactly the same as all of Liberty’s traditional students.

In terms of the quality of education, I have no qualms with Liberty.  In fact, I’ve greatly enjoyed my experience.  I’m three weeks away from having an MA that has equipped me to study and interpret the Bible, which is what I desired from the program.  I’m also prepared for further theological study.  Overall, I like Liberty, I’m glad I opted for this program.

With that said, Liberty has invited Gov. Mitt Romney to be its commencement speaker.  I may or may not vote for Romney.  I like some of his policies, but don’t like others, so I’m really up in the air toward Romney politically speaking.

But in terms of religion, Romney and I are worlds apart.  Mormonism takes certain Christian doctrines, redefines them, and comes up with an entirely new system.  In this non-pejorative sense, Mormonism is a cult.  Historic Christianity and Mormonism are in sharp contradiction to one another.  If you want examples, a few differences are in regard to the fundamental nature of God, Trinitarian theology, the person and work of Christ, the nature of eternity, the number of gods in existence, the possibility of becoming a god, the relationship of Jesus to Lucifer, the role of women throughout eternity, etc…

These are not just subtle differences.  Several of them are compromises on key doctrines upon which Christianity cannot compromise without ceasing to be Christianity.

This matters because Liberty is an explicitly Evangelical institution.  Liberty aims to “train champions for Christ.”  Liberty’s seminary, the school of which I am a part, has a statement of faith that students must be in “substantial agreement” with in order to enroll.  This “substantial agreement” excludes Mormon teaching that compromises historic Christianity.

When Liberty teaches in its apologetics classes that Mormonism is a cult (and it does), and the purpose of the institution is explicitly to train champions for Christ, what is one to think when they invite a Mormon to commission thousands of future pastors, teachers, church leaders, and Christian leaders in other fields?

We could think that Mormonism is an acceptable expression of Christianity, but it is not.  Liberty itself teaches that it is not.  Thus, we might suppose that Mitt Romney is a presidential candidate who needs to consolidate the GOP base, especially among Evangelicals who, quite honestly, don’t like him.  This seems to be the case.

Liberty is selling out to political clout.  They obviously don’t really care about upholding the historic Christian faith as much as they do about helping the GOP win.  The martyrs I learned about in my church history class would have never been martyred had they taken Liberty’s approach.  Just sell out to the powers that be, do whatever it takes to pander to the influential people.  Principle is obviously not as important as power.

It is outright hypocrisy for Liberty to teach that Mormonism is a cult to its seminary students, but to have these same students commissioned into future ministry by a member of said cult.  It is hypocrisy to teach about the cost of following Christ when the example Liberty sets is one of pandering for power. It is hypocrisy to hold your seminary students to a higher standard than that to which you hold yourselves.

If I invited a Mormon to address students graduating from my church youth group, I could be reprimanded by Liberty for that action.  It could be seen as violating the personal conduct standard and doctrinal statement to which I agreed.  In fact, I have some fear that I will be reprimanded for writing this.

But my professors at Liberty have taught me about not compromising the Gospel, regardless of the cost.  Liberty would do well to listen to its own theology professors in this matter.

Sincerely,

Joey

P.S.  – I already know many students who have decided not to attend commencement because of this matter.  I myself will not be attending, I had actually conditionally made this decision prior to the announcement about Romney.  The condition was who the commencement speaker might be.  Liberty is obviously unconcerned about politicizing upon the accomplishments of its students such that it discourages their participation.

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Comments
  1. DMG says:

    Amen. 2 Cor. 6:14 Sadly Liberty continues it’s compromising- 1. Glenn Beck- speaker for a commencement a few years ago. 2. Ergun Caner – was his “lie” called out?, 3. Mark Driscoll- pornographic vision/NewCalvinist (belief in extraBiblical revelation) recent guest speaker and now 4. Mitt Romney. Syncretism- period.

    It is one thing to stand in some public stadium to promote a politcal agenda but it is unBiblical to “yoke” with one; whose jesus is brother of satan, in a Christian (Jesus as ONLY son of God, Savior and Lord- per the Bible 2 Cor.5:21)platform.

    This is a disgrace. I applaud those alumni and students who have and will taken a stand for the Lord Jesus on this situation.

  2. ezekielcountdown says:

    Joey,

    Standing for the Gospel of Jesus Christ without compromise is what we are to do. While it saddens me that you and others will miss commencement, you are obeying our Beloved Savior’s command to contend for the faith! May God bless you as you colabor in the fields white for harvest. The church in America is in desperate need of men like yourself.

    • Julie Kellam says:

      Absolutely!! “What fellowship does light have with darkness?” It is absolutely unthinkable that Liberty would have an “anti-gospel” commencement speaker. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” Galatians 1:6-8 This is the severe warning and condemnation from the mouth of God Himself through the apostle Paul.

      • Lawrence Steele says:

        I am sad to see that money can change the course of faith to some people. Pride comes before the fall. I graduated in 2011 with a MA in Business, I contacted Liberty University and told them that I would like to be taken off their Alumni list. Their response was no problem.
        I was once proud of what Liberty University stood for but now I am ashamed.
        They sold out….on the TRUTH…

      • Dan Creed says:

        So Lawrence (and others), why did you want until this year to get all in a twitter and have your name taken off the alumni list, etc…, etc… Actually, because this has been the practice for at least 20 years, why did you attend LU at all? (Assuming you didn’t graduate in the 70’s/early 80’s). Romney is not only not the first secular speaker they’ve had at their graduation, he isn’t even the first mormon. Glenn Beck was the commencement speaker — did you freak out then too? What about when they had the Catholic serial adulterer, Newt Gingrich? The Jew — Ben Stein? How about who-knows-what-religion, Chuck Norris? How about John McCain who is NOT an evangelical at all and makes no pretense about not being “born again”? How about George Bush who is not an evangelical and I believe Episcopalian? Does that outrage you? Then there’s that Catholic Sean Hannity? What about Karl Rove? You see….this is nothing new. It kind of makes you look silly for just noticing now. Did you know that both Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson were also speakers at LU in the past? Where you outraged then? Did you see each and everyone of these speakers as somehow receiving an “endorsement” by the Falwell’s or LU?

        Oh, and the lovely comment above about how Liberty is obviously selling out for the money. Really? Do you have ONE IOTA of evidence to that effect or are you just slanderous and a malicious gossip — both of which are directly forbidden by Scripture. Or does the fact that you are using this opportunity to appear rather self-righteous and noble somehow exempt you from that Biblical admonition? Do they kind of cancel each other out? Help me understand how that works.

        You see, in the grown-up world of academia, it is actually quite common, for speakers of national significance or of particular interest to be invited to address the student body for the purpose of training, exposure, discernment building, dialoguing and multiple other reasons. Even uber-fundamentalist institutions like Bob Jones University have invited the likes of Catholic Alan Keyes and (unknown) Ron Paul.and the Bushes, etc… Crown College had Catholic Rick Santorum speak to them from the platform of Temple Baptist Church. Did this cause you distress?

    • Dan Creed says:

      Liberty U always invites someone controversial to do the Commencement — from Ted Kennedy to Chuck Norris to Ben Stein to Mitt Romney to Newt to Glenn and on and on it goes. And it always a) hits the newswires and creates HUGE publicity (and as they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity) and b) brings out threats of a boycott by graduates. Then, at some point, a Falwell will issue a press release that explains that they have always done it this way and that they have a very large Baccalaureate Service at which they invite a key Spiritual leader and then it quiets down until next year. Rinse and repeat. I think a lot of these folks have a short memory. 😀

      I truly question your contention that “a lot” of students won’t be attending the graduation because of this. Really? How would you know? I’m a professor for their online program and I know of no such thing. How are you privy to such info. Most online students choose not to go through the expense of traveling to L’burg to march for a graduate degree — that’s why most don’t attend. Do you or anyone else think that having 8,000 students march instead of 9,000 students is going to be noticed by anyone? It’s a celebration — not a life changing key-note address.

      Nothing new here….keep moving folks…..stayed tuned….it will be the kerfluffle again in about 12 months.

  3. sweetswede says:

    Dan, on the Liberty commencement Facebook page numerous students have commented about how they will not attend (including one that has had the reservations made for 6 months). That was the basis of my statement about students boycotting it.

    Now, you are probably right, there won’t be enough who do not attend to make a substantial impact. And I would venture to bet you are also right that an overwhelming majority of online students don’t attend just because of travel expense (I’m only about 5-6 hours away, so the travel was not much of a factor for me). But it’s the principle of the thing.

    If this is Liberty’s modus operandi, and you would know this better than I would, doesn’t this indicate that they’re just selling out to publicity and influence? Shouldn’t we expect more from our seminary and college?

    Thanks for your comment.
    Joey

    • Dan Creed says:

      I’m sure that the “sellout” argument can be used and will be used as it has been used in the past. I think what I was really emphasizing was that this isn’t a “shift” or “something new” — it’s been happening at LU openly for at least 20 years. I would not be the least bit surprised to see them try to get someone like Marco Rubio (Catholic) or Rand Paul or Kirk Cameron or Truett Cathey (if the gays try to boycott Chick-fil-A again) or Ann Coulter or Dinesh D’Souza or Clarence Thomas (Catholic) or someone like that in future years. More recently, they’ve showcased “conservative” secularists quite a bit — many who are political or entertainment or business oriented.

      I’ll keep my own counsel as to what I would do if I were Chancellor of a university as I am not and am not likely to be. I don’t think it is a “sell-out” because it does not represent a shift. It is actually quite consistent. I loathe Mormonism and all that have bought into the lie. However, I will also hold my nose and vote for Romney in November because I am not voting for a pastor or a Seminary President, but for the CEO of this country. If faith were to be my only standard for voting, I would position myself to have voted against people ranging from Jefferson to Lincoln to T. Roosevelt to Nixon and I would have had to vote for Carter and Clinton (both Baptists).

      But as one who has spoken at scores of graduations over the years, I also know that the “world will little note nor long remember” who speaks or what is said by the speaker. I’m 30 years removed from college and I could not remember who spoke at any of the 3 graduations in which I marched if you held a gun to my head. I’ve always found that my graduation addresses are mostly short. Apart from that, folks don’t remember them. 😀

  4. sweetswede says:

    If selling-out requires a shift, then we could just move the discussion to past tense. Liberty “sold out,” and the most recent commencement speaker is further evidence of this.

    I didn’t say I won’t vote for Romney. I will either vote for him or support a third party candidate. I agree faith is not the only standard for voting. But on the same note, as a commencement speaker Romney IS addressing seminarians, future pastors, apologists, and church leaders of all stripes. And in that context, faith SHOULD be the most important criteria. It’s not about whether people will remember it, it’s about whether a university that teaches Mormonism is a cult should be inviting a Mormon to address an overwhelmingly Evangelical audience.

  5. DMG says:

    Totally agree with your last comment; SweetSwede. Liberty might as well add a Mormon prof. here and there in their programs also. It will help “grow” the school. cha-ching.

    Focus on the Lord Jesus gets shoveled under a rug in their ceremonies. Pathetic.

    (P.S. another swede)

  6. sweetswede says:

    Thanks DMG. What confounds me is the school is growing just fine apart from speakers like this. They’re one of the largest online schools in the world.

    P.S. – I feel like I should mention I’m Swedish only in my ancestry, I wasn’t born in Sweden. I would like to visit someday though.

    • DMG says:

      Of course the school will win the WORLD’S appeal. ‘just like any other secular school. Very sad.
      It’s called Compromising Christianity to suit the culture. ‘appeal to Everyone.

      (PS. same here )

  7. Lawrence Steele says:

    I graduated from Liberty University in 2011 with a MA in Management and Leadership. I am ashamed on how the University is selling out our Christian faith by having Romney speak there. I do not want to have anything to do with Liberty University.

  8. Joey, I want to commend you on your non compromising position and stance on this matter.

    I have written a article called Mormon Compromise here at http://www.christfirstforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=10083

    Please read it!

    I am a SBC pastor of 30 years and a past student in the Life Long School of learning at Liberty. Professor Howard Willmington would have been appalled at what has transpired at Liberty and in our country concerning this type of compromise concerning Mormonism. I applaud you sir and hope that Christians will wake up from this sleep and strong delusion and deception.

    Servant of the Lord, Frank B. Holmes

  9. sweetswede says:

    Thanks for sharing that link, Pastor Holmes. This whole event certainly highlights the issue that, sadly, even many Evangelicals do not understand the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. We live in an age of doctrinal compromise and must herald the truth.

  10. Steve Crest says:

    As a long time born again Christian, and a studyholic of religion, I found Mitt’s comments so refreshing that I looked up the Mormon missionaries, and after several weeks of study and prayer have found that this is the same religion that Jesus Christ had when he was on the earth. I will be baptized in two weeks!

  11. sweetswede says:

    Steve, I don’t mean to seem rude, but is that comment serious or is it a joke?

  12. Chuckt says:

    I think you are missing the mark because people whom we disagree with are people whom God so loved that He gave His own son for. Jesus told us to love our enemies and that we would be known for our love.

    Mormonism is another gospel but you are treating other people like they are supposed to be hated and when you hate other people, you are no longer overcoming evil with good.

    Matthew 5:43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

    Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

    Matthew 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

    How have you loved your enemy? How have you done good to them that hate you? How are you like God that makes his sun to rise on the evil? And what reward do you have when bad politicians are willing to help society more than the Christians?

    I don’t think you can change other people until you change yourself. You’re offended at other people so why should other people change and listen to you? Are your enemies saying, “Please reprove me?” or “Thank you for hating me.. I now see it your way”?

    Do you want to be a reminder to Mormons that Christians are still human?

    1 Corinthians 5:9 ¶ I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

    1 Corinthians 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

    We would have to leave the world to get away from fornicators but you are already treating yourselves better than others by treating Mormons worse than fornicators that you probably come in contact with every day:

    Philippians 2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

    And it may also be God’s test to put us under the basest of men:

    Daniel 4:17 This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

    What is God’s will this election? Are you already resisting the powers that are ordained of God?

    Romans 13:1 ¶ Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

    Romans 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

    You’re a pastor. How can you preach about forgiving others when you don’t forgive those at Liberty University?

    And how can you judge whom will and won’t martyr the Christians? Do you know all things?

    Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

    Luke 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

    Are you doing wisely and can you be commended for making friends of the mammon of unrighteousness?

  13. sweetswede says:

    Chuck, I didn’t say people shouldn’t vote for Romney. I didn’t say I wouldn’t vote for Romney. I didn’t say I hate Romney (I do not). My argument in this post, which your comment does not address at all, is that it is inappropriate to have a member of a cult commission future ministers, Christian educators, and leaders in other disciplines.

    I would have said nothing if Liberty had Romney come speak as a political leader for a political rally. But commissioning Christian leaders going into their respective ministries is another matter entirely.

    Joey.

  14. chuckt says:

    Joey,

    How do you know what he said if you didn’t go?

    Chuck

  15. sweetswede says:

    Chuck,

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/12/text-of-mitt-romneys-commencement-address-at-liberty-university/

    Even so, I didn’t write this as a response to what he said. I wrote this post long before I knew what he said. The principle of my argument is not based on what he said. It was based on the fact he (as a Mormon) would be addressing seminary and Bible college graduates at an institution that aims to “train champions for Christ.”

    Joey

  16. Chuck says:

    “People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology”

    A secular person could have written that. How does that compromise you? I had a politician at my commencement and almost everyone booed him.

    Dr. Norman Geisler quoted Martin Luther when he said, “Martin Luther once said that he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian.”

    I don’t see how the speaker commissioned you.

    I disagree with you in your attempt to make enemies with him instead of friends and it can determine whether he looks out for us or not which isn’t something you should trivialize because it can help or hurt people you can’t feel for.

  17. Chuckt says:

    Joey,

    I think he came there asking for help on preserving marriage rather than try to commission you.

    James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.

    Protestants thought not to side with Catholics but sided with liberals in the culture war and they thought that was a mistake.

    Samaritans weren’t friends with the Jews so who is your neighbor? Instead of maybe making friends and seeing where you could do good, you resented him being there and you didn’t do good where you could have done good and that is sin.

    Luke 10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

    Chuck

  18. sweetswede says:

    First, I don’t want to make enemies of Mitt Romney. That’s not the point of this post, and if you look at my Twitter feed during the Presidential debates (https://twitter.com/WVKingJoey) I have been very favorable to Mitt Romney. I don’t know why you’re so intent on painting me like I hate Mitt Romney, but I don’t.

    I recognize that politically I have much in common with Mitt Romney (though also some substantial differences). On the whole, we share a Judeo-Christian ethic, and are allies on issues like abortion.

    That said, the purpose of a commencement is not to rally political support. It is in fact to commission the graduates as they move forward in life. Note Romney’s statement “All that you have heard here at Liberty University – about trusting in God and in His purpose for each of us–makes for more than a good sermon. It makes for a good life.”

    Allow me to follow the advice of one of Liberty’s professors and ask this question, “Which God?” Sure, Romney used a lot of common terminology, and made appeals to God, Christianity and the Gospel. But what does Romney mean by God, Christianity and the Gospel? Note what the Apostle Paul said, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!” (Galatians 1:8, HCSB).

    When a Mormon comes to an Evangelical institution and talks about the Gospel and about God, there must be an understanding that the god(s) of Mormonism are not the same as the Triune God of Christianity. When a Mormon mentions the Gospel, they do not mean the same Gospel as an Evangelical Christian. This is the necessary conclusion when we understand the claims and teachings of Mormonism.

    It is not love, and it is not neighborly to accept false teaching. You can rip as many verses out of context as you please. But the same God who commands us to love our neighbor commands us to refute and reject false teaching, and that is true even when the false teaching comes from a politically powerful individual.

    If you want to talk about preserving marriage, let’s not forget that in the not-so-distant past the Mormon church was advocating polygamy. Sure, I would rather be ruled by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian; but that doesn’t mean I should accept an incompetent Turk.

    Joey

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