Continuing the series I started with in my prior post, we’re examining the About.com article “Seven Reasons Why Mormons are Christian”, by Rachel Bruner. In our prior post, recall that we examined 1) The remarks of their elder statesmen on this topic, 2) The distinct tendency on the part of the LDS to “redefine” terms in the Christian lexicon, and 3) The necessity for a transcendental argument to settle the question.
In this installment, we will examine the first reason we are given for believing that Mormons are Christian.
I’ve duplicated the link from the article, as we will discuss the content found therein, as well. The article gives the following as support for the preceding statement:
Everything we teach and everything we do is to bring us unto Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God and all our beliefs and doctrines focus on Him as our Savior and Redeemer. He is the head of our church (see Ephesians 5:23), which many people refer to as “Mormons” but that is only a nickname. The proper name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When the Nephites disputed what to call the church, Christ said:
“And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Nephi 27:8).
Now, let’s address some presuppositional commitments, before we get into the response. The “Jesus Christ” of Mormonism is who, precisely? According to the link for #1, “Jesus Christ is the firstborn spirit child of God and although each of us is a spirit son or daughter of God, the Eternal Father, only Jesus Christ is God’s son in the flesh. Born of the virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, is the only begotten son of the Father.”  Now, let’s compare this conception of Jesus to the Biblical conception of Jesus. Gill puts it thus: “[H]e is an individual, distinct, though not separate from the divine nature, he has in common with the Father and the Spirit; he subsists of himself in that nature distinctly, and independently; is not a part of another, the whole fulness of the Godhead dwells in him; nor is his human nature, which he assumed in time, a part of his person, nor adds anything to his personality; but being taken up into union with his person, subsists in it; he has life in himself, and is the living God; is intelligent, has understanding and will; knows himself, his Father and the Spirit, and all creatures and things, and does whatsoever he pleases.”
Let’s set forth these conceptions of Christ in antithesis, as they ought to be placed – we will draw from other places in Mormon writings to give us a fuller picture, as well.
|Attributes||CT (Christian Theism)||~CT (Mormon Theism)|
|Deity||Monogenes (Unique Son)||First of many spirit children|
|Conception||Miraculously, by the Spirit||In the flesh, by Elohim|
|Relationship to Satan||Lord and God over||Spirit brother to|
|Relationship to Man||Transcendent God over and Creator of  ||Spirit brother to|
|Nature||In Hypostatic Union, 2nd person of the Trinity||One of a plurality of gods, firstborn of Elohim|
|Temporality||Eternal, as God alone||One of a plurality of antemortal spirit brethren in endless temporal existence|
|Material Relationship||Essentially Spirit, took on flesh, yet immutable||Essentially Spirit, which is itself a form of matter |
|Sonship||Eternal||Began in time, in the flesh |
|Atonement began||On Calvary||In Gethsemane|
This suffices for our purposes at the moment; it does, however, clearly illustrate that the Mormon and Christian conceptions of “Christ” are fundamentally at odds! Since we have our two worldviews at antithesis on the most basic of levels, we must transcendentally argue our case(s), as what is at stake is the very intelligibility of what it is we are saying. Mormonism, after all, claims to be founded on the Christian Scriptures, and merely a continuation, to be carried along by their “living prophets”. Christianity, on the other hand, claims that the revelation of God is complete in the 66 books of the Bible, and that in that Scripture alone we may rest secure, and find certainty. So, what are we to do? Throw up our hands? Not in the least! We will argue on the level of worldviews, rather than over individual facts, in a piecemeal fashion. If Christ is the head of the church – which we both seem to affirm – which church is that, precisely? As we saw in the last installment, it is quite clear that whatever “church” the “Jesus” of the LDS is the head of, is not the church that orthodox Christians are members of. On the other hand, Scripture tells us that Christ is the head of His church, and that the church is defined as all of the elect throughout history. So, how are we to resolve this?
Let us take the doctrines of Christ, and of the Church, and set them in opposition. First, will proceed to do an internal critique of the LDS position, and demonstrate that the position of the LDS church is incoherent, and makes both “Christ” and “Church” unintelligible.
To the LDS church, we have been without a “valid” church since shortly after the apostles were martyred. At very least they point to Nicea as an example of the “great apostasy” that had gripped the “Christian” church. So, in effect, there was no valid church from at least 325 until 1820 (but probably longer than that). In the eyes of the LDS, there was effectively no church on the face of God’s earth for centuries. Only with the “Great Restoration” of Joseph Smith was the church brought back in any meaningful fashion. So, we can say that to the LDS, Jesus is the head of the LDS church, and all else is apostate.
There is a problem with this assertion, however. Are we to believe that the church who Christ told Peter that “the gates of Hades” would not stand against fell, for centuries? That God did not preserve for Himself a remnant? On the one hand, we have the Scripture that the LDS claims to believe telling us that the church will not fall; On the other hand, we have the testimony of Joseph Smith and his fellow “Latter Day Saints” that the church did fall! If, as the LDS claims, the church of Jesus Christ went into apostasy in a wholesale fashion, what are we to believe of the promises of God? Even more urgently, however, how shall we explain the seeming contradictions between the teaching of the Apostles themselves, and the LDS church, on a massive variety of points? For instance, the Apostles taught, explicitly, that God is One. So did Christ. If this is the case, how are we to believe that in reality, (as the LDS teaches) they taught that there are many gods? It is undeniably the case that the Old Testament and New Testament both teach that God is one in being However, the LDS church teaches that there are a plurality of gods. In order to make their teaching an intelligible continuation of the teaching of the Old and New Testaments, it would have to be the case that the OT and NT teach that there are a plurality of true gods. In Scripture we are told of that there is a plurality of false gods, but never that there is a plurality of true gods. Even more problematic, how are we to ground, for instance, the one and the many in a pluralism of deities? How are we to ground an objective morality in a plurality of deities? How are we to ground logic, or uniformity in a mutable, temporally-bound pantheon such as Mormonism presents us with? As Mormonism presents it, there is no visible uniformity in their ecclesiology, nor in their doctrine of scripture. Both are presented as mutable, and discontinuous – even contradictory. As such, their inability to grant us the preconditions of intelligibility in human experience and external reality make their worldview impossible.
In contrast, Christianity presents us with an ecclesiology and doctrine of scripture grounded in monergism. From first to last, the work and nature of God is the precondition for every doctrine we believe. The church is made up of those who are elected from eternity by the Father, brought to the body of Christ by the work of the Spirit, and atoned for by the death and obedience of Christ. In the Triune God, there is a foundation for the unity and diversity of the church, the certainty of revelatory and ecclesiological continuity and objectivity.
Let us move on the the doctrine of Christ. In the Old Testament, we are presented with multiple “theophanies”, as well as the express revelation of God to man. In the New Testament, it is revealed that God the Son took on flesh, and walked among us. We are told by the LDS church that God the Son became the Son at a certain point in time, and was conceived physically by intercourse with Mary. We are also told that God the Son is of the same order of being as we are, differing only in his degree of exaltation, as we (and Christ) differ from Elohim only in our degree of exaltation. We are told that Christ is of the same order as the angels, as well, since Lucifer is his spirit-brother. We are told that he did not create the world ex-nihilo, but that he organized pre-existing matter, which is conterminous with God; who is similarly temporally infinite, if not timelessly eternal. In fact, we are told that “spirit” is merely a different order of matter! He is not the eternally begotten Son, but the temporally begotten son of Elohim. On this basis, how can we affirm that by him were all things made? He, himself, is a made thing. Of pre-existing matter, to be sure, but the Father is, to the LDS, himself, pre-existent matter. Ne is no different in order, essentially, from any other human, be they humble or exalted. So, is he to be considered as creator of himself, or is he similarly the creation of another, as to the LDS, “creation” is the reorganization of pre-existing matter? This is a gross contradiction. He cannot be both creator of all and not-creator of all at the same time, and in the same sense. Further, how is he to say “I AM that I AM” in true self-sufficiency, being a created thing as any other? How is he to be “who was, and is, and is to come” in a properly eternal sense? An endless succession of moments is not, properly, eternity. Yet, to be truly eternal, there must be no change. Change, however, did occur, in the very nature of the Christ of the LDS. Hence, he is not properly eternal, nor self-sufficient, nor self-existent, nor immutable, and certainly not perfect. Perfection is to have no lack. Christ had to become, and needs still become, to be as great as his father, in the doctrine of the LDS. In short, the Christ that the LDS presents is unintelligible. He is a self-contradiction. Their adherence to the Christian Scripture merely points out the contradictory nature of their conception of Christ; the Christ shown purely by the LDS’ distinct writings is similarly self-contradictory, if not so obviously so. By presenting as “God” an exalted man, spirit child of Elohim, firstborn of the flesh, they have presented a “Christ” that is expressly self-refuting. A “Christ” who is an imperfect creation, one of many, not one of a kind except in an incidental sense, whose church fell almost immediately. This “Christ’s” “atonement” paid for nothing in any meaningful sense, was challenged by Lucifer as a being on par with himself, achieved no lasting benefit, and had to be “jumpstarted” 1800 years later in order to be even known at all. A “Christ” such as this does not resemble the πρωτότοκος that Scripture depicts. It is a weak, powerless figure that couldn’t be further from the “Faithful and True” on Revelation’s white horse.
In contrast, we have the eternal, self-existent Son of God; timeless Word before creation or time began. The Creator of all, Sovereign Lord and Redeemer; unchallengeable and unconquerable. Omnipotent, unrivaled, glorious and without peer – firstborn above all creation, He who took on our sins for the glory of God the Father, and is glorified beyond all mortal knowledge. Omniscient, unchanging, in whom all things hold together. In Him alone are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It is such a Christ that makes all else in His creation make sense, and in whom we may know, and repose in certain faith. There is no shadow of turning in Him; no contradiction, or alteration. Only in the eternal and immutable Sovereignty of the Scriptural Christ of Christian orthodoxy can we find the meaning to all we might desire, and all that He designs to reveal of His eternal purpose.
The “Christ” of Mormonism, and it’s long-failed church fail to give us coherence and an intelligible reality. They fail to ground the meaning of all creation in the person of Christ. They are mere shadows; echoes of the triumphal beauty of the Christ revealed in Scripture Alone. With the impossibility of their position, we alone can say that our Christ does that, and is truly all in all. Only the Christ of Scripture is the head of a Church worth worshiping in. May the Mormon people find Him, and may they rest in His certainty, rather than in the morass of doubt that Mormonism entails.
-  D&C 93:21 ↩
-  John 3:16 ↩
-  Original references duplicated when possible ↩
-  Gill, Body of Doctrinal Divinity ↩
-  μονογενής – single of its kind, only ↩
-  LDS.org: Firstborn ↩
-  Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders ↩
-  Matt 1:20 ↩
-  LDS.org: Jesus Christ ↩
-  Hebrews 1:5 ↩
-  Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders ↩
-  Isa 40:21-31 ↩
-  Isa 6:1 ↩
-  John 12:41 ↩
-  Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders ↩
-  “This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ” – Chalcedonian Definition ↩
-  D&C 132:19-22 ↩
-  Ensign: The Father and the Son ↩
-  1 Tim 1:17 ↩
-  Ensign: The Father and the Son ↩
-  John 4:24 ↩
-  D&C 131:7-8 ↩
-  Heb 13:8 ↩
-  “All men were first born in pre-existence as the literal spirit offspring of God our Heavenly Father…and are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity…Christ, destined to be the Only Begotten Son in Mortality, was the first spirit offspring in pre-existence” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 84). ↩
-  “God the Father is a perfected, glorified, holy Man, an immortal Personage. And Christ was born into the world as the literal Son of this Holy Being; He was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. There is nothing figurative about his paternity; He was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events, for He is the Son of God, and that designation means what it says” (Ibid. p. 742) ↩
-  Rom 5:10-11 ↩
-  McConkie, The Purifying Power of Gethsemane ↩
-  Eph 1, Heb 12:23 ↩
-  Early Signs of the Apostasy ↩
-  The Fulness of the Gospel: The Nature of the Godhead ↩
-  The Message of the Restoration ↩
-  Matt 16:18 ↩
-  Psa 100:5, Psa 119:90 ↩
-  Early Signs of the Apostasy ↩
-  2 Cor 1:20 ↩
-  James 2;19 ↩
-  Mar 12:29 ↩
-  Exo 3:14, John 5:44 ↩
-  Also known as the problem of unity and diversity or of universals and particulars ↩
-  Doctrine of the Church ↩
-  having intervals, or gaps ↩
-  in logic, a proposition so related to a second that it is impossible for both to be true or both to be false. ↩
-  What is required to render meaningful, or make understandable ↩
-  the doctrine that the Holy Spirit acts independently of the human will in the work of regeneration; may also more widely applied to the work of God in general ↩
-  the choice by God of individuals, as for a particular work or for favor or salvation ↩
-  in timeless and immutable self-existence ↩
-  the reconciliation of man with God through the life, sufferings, and sacrificial death of Christ ↩
-  both active and passive obedience – see Gill, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book V, 3,4 ↩
-  “appearance of God” ↩
-  Out of nothing ↩
-  Rev 1:4,8 ↩
-  Phil 2:6-11 ↩
-  Col 1:17 ↩
-  Col 2:2-3 ↩
-  Jam 1:17 ↩
Her Seven Reasons are as follows:
1. Christ is Head of Mormon Church
2. Faith in Jesus Christ
3. Prophets Preach of Christ
4. Scriptures Witness of Christ
5. Mormons Act in the Name of Christ
6. Holy Ghost Testifies of Christ
7. Mormons Believe in Atonement of Christ
In this series, we’ll examine each of her claims. In this post, we’ll examine some presuppositional issues, and provide some introductory comments. For reasons not given by the author, it is deemed important that the title “Christian” be applied to the LDS Church and its adherents. When we look at the very statements of Mormon statesmen, however, we find that there is no such desire to be found numbered among Christendom.
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”” .
Note this; if you follow the link, you will find that Smith specifically mentions Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians as the target of these words – so, we are being informed that none of these groups are Christian – yet the article’s author is arguing that Mormonism, on the contrary, is Christian. Keep this in mind.
“The fact is that orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian.” 
If the orthodox Christian view is Pagan – what are we to believe is ‘Christian’? Further, note that anything that “Christians” consider “orthodox” is, by this definition, pagan. If so, who is determining what is Christian, and why does it seem to be exclusively unorthodox?
“The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon….”  “Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the “whore of Babylon” whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness.” 
Pratt, apparently, is even more willing to throw out every putative Christian group in his sweeping statements. We are left wondering; who is left, by this point? The modern apostates and cults who self-identify as ‘Christian’? (Simply because they are too new to fall under this indictment, obviously.) Mormonism, evidently, is self-identifying itself as, if not the only, at least the best ‘Christian” group, isn’t it?
If necessary, we can delve more into these and similar statements at a later date, but this should suffice to pique our interest; why, if the elder statesmen of the LDS had these things to say about “Christendom”, do modern Mormons want to be considered “Christian”? We are also left wondering due to the explicit statement of D&C 1:30: that “this church” is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” Puzzling, to be sure.
It must also be understood that within Mormonism, there is a distinct tendency to “redefine” terms. As Dr. James White puts it, “Mormonism uses our language, our terminology, but it fills those words with utterly foreign meanings.” As such, when they speak of “Jesus Christ”, it can be conclusively demonstrated that we’re not talking about the same thing we are talking about. When they speak of “God”, they are similarly not speaking of the identical “God” that we are speaking of. We are not speaking of the “atonement” they are speaking of. In short; when we are speaking of practically anything in the Christian lexicon, the Mormons have a different definition for it. When we deal with issues that they raise, we must keep this clearly in mind; we must accurately represent both what we believe, and what they believe – set them in opposition, and argue transcendentally. In doing so, we will not merely be “arguing about the facts” – we will be arguing the meaning of fact, on a presuppositional level – and able to truly compare these two worldviews in a fashion that will be decisive and clear. This we will do in the remainder of our series, Lord willing.
Yahya Snow, with his typical monotony, already has his spin ready. Ready to hear it?
They had it coming.
Yup! Asking questions, and engaging in dialogue, according to Mr. Snow, is grounds for arrest. As he says in the lead-in to his article:
The controversial evangelical group has had its co-founders arrested. You may remember the controversy they caused at last years Arab Festival in Dearborn; they were ejected from the event by security. This year they top that by getting arrested.David Wood and Acts17 Apologetics Were Looking For Trouble Under the Guise of Evangelism
Yes, since they were so peaceably ejected (you saw the video in my previous post – does that make any sense, folks?) from the festival last year, it’s only reasonable that they get arrested this time, right? Give me a break. As Nabeel pointed out in the video last year, this is America. You don’t get free reign to assault people, or to infringe on their right to free speech, freedom to assemble, freedom of religious expression. Maybe that’s “acceptable” elsewhere, but not under this governmental system. I also find it laughable that Mr. Snow is attempting to “guilt trip” Dr. White into not associating with Nabeel and David. Does Mr. Snow have any conception of the work Dr. White has engaged in for over two decades with Mormons? Witnessing at their yearly convocation in Salt Lake City (which they gave up recently, due to the obnoxious behavior of KJVO protestors, not evangelists), or at the annual Easter Pageant in Mesa? This is nothing new to any Christian. This is nothing new to Dr. White, nor will it be “shocking” to him, or to Christians who know their Scripture. It’s quite familiar, and Biblically expected.
A note to Muslims: When people act as is shown on the video from last year, the face of Islam is unmasked. You can try to spin it all you want, but it’s plain as day to the people of this nation, and to Christians all over the world. I hope you understand that these men and women went to this festival, despite there being death threats made if they returned. To a Christian, that is pure joy, to be persecuted or killed for the sake of their Lord. As Nabeel and David noted in their followup video, we are quite able to assert our rights as citizens – but that doesn’t mean that we don’t expect persecution anyway.
Stop playing innocent. We know better, and so do you. They had as much right to be there as anyone else – and had those rights infringed.
They have a post up about their experience here.
I was listening to Glenn Beck’s show this morning, and heard this discussion:
(Note: This may be a first, me linking to Media Matters – but they have the relevant clip)
Here’s a transcript:
22:40: Glenn: “…the Dead Sea Scrolls, you know what they are? Stu, do you know what the Dead Sea Scrolls are?
Stu: Well, of course I do…
Glenn: Now, c’mon, most people don’t.
Stu: Well, I heard of them, I don’t really know
Glenn: You don’t really know. You have no idea why they were there. Sara average person doesn’t know. Any idea, take a guess on why the Dead Sea Scrolls were there, or anything else.
Sara(?): Something religious.
Glenn: Okay, good. Even though I’ve explained this on this program a couple of times, I’m glad to see that even the people that work with me don’t even listen.
So here’s what happened. When Constantine decided that he was going to cobble together an army, he did the Council of Nicea, right, Pat?
Glenn: The Council of Nicea, and what they did is brought all of the religious figures together, all the Christians and then they said, “Ok, let’s put together the Apostles’ Creed, let’s you know, you guys do it.” So they brought all their religious scripture together, that’s when the Bible was first bound and everything else. And then they said, “Anybody that disagrees with this is a heretic and off with their head!” Well, that’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls are. The Dead Sea Scrolls are those scriptures that people had at the time that they said, “They are destroying all of this truth.” Whether it’s truth or not is up to the individual, but at that time those people thought that this was something that needed to be preserved and so they rolled up the scrolls and put them in clay pots and they put them in the back of caves where no one could find them. They were hidden scripture because everything was being destroyed that disagreed with the Council of Nicea and Constantine. That’s what those things are.” 24:37
Okay, let’s count the problems.
1) “When Constantine decided that he was going to cobble together an army, he did the Council of Nicea”
Really? Wasn’t Constantine’s formation of an army well prior to Nicea? Was there an army at Nicea at all? For information about Constantine, from a real historian, see here.
2) “then they said, ‘Ok, let’s put together the Apostles’ Creed, let’s you know, you guys do it.'”
The Apostles Creed is from the century after Christ.
3) “So they brought all their religious scripture together, that’s when the Bible was first bound and everything else”
See this article, discussed later. The first Bible was bound there? Really? I’d love to see some documentation of that. Was there any canon discussion at all? I’d love to see some proof of that, as well.
4) “then they said, ‘Anybody that disagrees with this is a heretic and off with their head!'”
What went on at Nicea is well-documented here. The canons of Nicea are available online, as well. No historian I know of has ever produced a shred of evidence that there were beheadings or executions at Nicea.
5) “Well, that’s what the Dead Sea Scrolls are. The Dead Sea Scrolls are those scriptures that people had at the time.” “but at that time those people thought that this was something that needed to be preserved”
What time is that? As noted on this site, they are dated from anywhere from the third century B.C. to 68 A.D. Glenn is off by at least 250 years.
6) “They are destroying all of this truth.” “They were hidden scripture because everything was being destroyed that disagreed with the Council of Nicea and Constantine.”
First, who? Second, these are the Dead Sea Scrolls. Wrong century. Wrong people. WRONG PLACE. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found where? Khirbet Qumran, near Kalia, a modern Jewish settlement. Nicea is where? Present-day İznik – Turkey.
7) “Whether it’s truth or not is up to the individual”
Very postmodern of him. However: “I was answered that I must join none of them (Christian Churches), for they were all wrong…that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight” (Joseph Smith History 1:19).
Folks, practically everything in this explanation is wrong. It’s mind-boggling. Immediately, I tried to call the show, but the lines were jammed, so I didn’t get through. I did send him an email, however, with a very short list of factual problems with this section above, with my cell #, just in case he wanted to contact me.
In that email, I provided this link: What Really Happened at Nicea? In this article, Dr. White explains the history and proceedings of the Council of Nicea (which was in 325, not in 378, as a Media Matters commenter claimed).
Now, I listen to Beck for a simple reason. He’s a Mormon, and his worldview “bleeds through” quite frequently – and I find it interesting. Especially when, as is more common lately, he speaks about faith and religion. He frequently refers to himself as “Christian” – when he is nothing of the sort. For instance:
The section I’m most interested in is here:
“The enemy of Jesus is not a government. It is the capping of individuals. It is the stopping of people understand what the power inside of you is. The ability to choose between right and wrong. Jesus never took anybody and waterboarded them and told them ‘accept me, accept me, accept me’. He never did that. Religions, when they became about politics, did that. Jesus said ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do’. Jesus said ‘do you not yet understand all this and more you can do’. It’s individual rights. It’s a war that has been going since before time. I’ll save em. I’ll save em all. Just give me the credit, I’ll save em all. I’ll make the choices for them so no one can fail. No, no, no. Let men fail – and I will send a Savior, and He will redeem them for the price that they cannot pay. But let them fail.”
Interesting, isn’t it?
Note: Lucifer’s plan has often been compared, negatively, to Calvinism – which, ironically, is what a Presbyterian is. Like… the Presbyterian author (and seminary president at WTS) he approvingly endorsed earlier in that same show!
So, we’ve established two things.
While Glenn might consider himself a good historian on the founding fathers, he should stick to things he has actually studied.
Glenn’s Mormon presuppositions slip through, and color his viewing of history as well his statements about faith.