Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 91

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE under moonlight, infra-red, or ultraviolet; but trust me: it is a special form of white. No one believes that Smith’s stipulation about black being a special form of white is a sound move. Thus, to assess the position that Mormonism is a part of Christianity, we must have some agreement on what Mormon claims are, and what are the core claims of Christianity. No Christian group, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, high Protestant, or low Protestant, has disagreed with these five convictions. 1. God is one. 2. God is a creator, not merely an organizer. 3. The Trinity is one divine essence, three divine persons. 4. There is an existential gap between God and humanity that requires an incarnation of the Divine Logos to bridge the gap. 5. Salvation is a free gift, neither earned nor merited. If Mormonism accepted three or four of these beliefs, we could have a thoughtful discussion of its place in the Christian tradition. But as Webb well knows, Mormonism accepts none of these. God is not a creator. He is only an organizer. There is not just one God. There are many. Salvation is earned. The Book of Mormon is a deeply Pelagian book. When the people are righteous, they prosper materially. Whether Mormonism as a religion has intellectual or social advantages over Christianity is a separate question from whether it is Christian. But to hold that it is Christian is to stipulate that white is black or vice versa. A second large issue is that Webb can make the claim he does about Mormonism because he believes that the patristic church was wrong in its appropriation of Neoplatonism to articulate and defend Christian theology. This belief is mistaken. Some patristic thinkers may have adopted too much Platonism. This, for example, is the traditional reading of Origen. However, Webb’s view that the appropriation of Platonism was a mistake is just wrong. The patristic church did not just graft an otherwise alien Platonism onto sacred Scripture. They found the essential metaphysical structure of Neoplatonism in sacred Scripture. The first eighteen verses of the G ospel of John are deeply reflective of Neoplatonism of the first century of the 90