Early Monday morning, ahead of the ceremony officially moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney took to Twitter to savage Pastor Robert Jeffress, who was slated to offer a prayer at the ceremony.
“Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew,’ and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell,'” Romney tweeted. “He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.”
Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,“ and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 14, 2018
In other words, Romney, who ardently courted evangelicals when he ran for president, is upset because a Christian pastor had the audacity to affirm the orthodox and widely held Christian belief that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
An hour later Jeffress shot back on Twitter. “Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone.” he wrote. “The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy.”
Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy.
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) May 14, 2018
The tweets, of course, set off a media firestorm as the MSM and enemies of Christianity (but I repeat myself) jumped at the opportunity to denigrate orthodox biblical Christianity.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell shot out of the box with this:
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) May 14, 2018
Later in the day, at least two reporters at the White House briefing, glomming onto Romney’s slur, demanded to know why a bigot was invited to give the prayer. Here’s one exchange between a White House reporter and deputy press secretary Raj Shah (who, incidentally, ran opposition research for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign):
Deputy Press Sec. on controversial religious figures tied to Trump administration, including Pastor Jeffress, who gave blessing at Jerusalem embassy opening:
"Those specific views…if they're accurate reflections of what was said, wouldn't be embraced by this White House." pic.twitter.com/LHOlyXt4XR
— ABC News (@ABC) May 14, 2018
Shah told reporters that he hadn’t heard Jeffress’ remarks, but added, “Those aren’t remarks the president believes.” (I’ll leave it for readers to decide what that says about Trump’s professed Christian faith.)
“Do you think it’s regrettable that people with these views are involved with the American government?” one reporter sneered, implying that Christians perhaps ought to be purged from government jobs.
Shah reiterated that the comments “wouldn’t be embraced by this White House.”
While I’m no fan of Jeffress (I’m of the old-school belief that men called to be pastors ought to focus on their calling to shepherd the flock God has entrusted to them), he has every right to publically proclaim that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone—and he’s not a bigot or anti-Semite for saying so. As Jeffress said, there’s nothing newsworthy about a Christian uttering Christian things. He’s merely echoing what Jesus taught, after all.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” Likewise, the Apostle Peter, whom we’re told in Acts was “filled with the holy spirit,” told Annas the Jewish high priest, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” [Emphasis added]
Not Moses, not Abraham, not Joseph Smith. Through Jesus alone can men can be reconciled to God, according to the Bible.
It shouldn’t be controversial in the least that Jeffress has made statements completely consistent with Christian beliefs through the ages. The fact that Christians believe this does not make them hateful bigots. Indeed, that would violate another critical command of Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I get that Mitt Romney’s feelings may be hurt by Christians who refuse to welcome Mormons into the tent of Christian orthodoxy (or maybe he’s just trying to drum up Mormon votes for his flailing Senate campaign… it’s hard to tell with him). But as a Mormon, Romney, of all people, should be well aware of the dangers of religious persecution. And he is, after all, a practitioner of a faith that makes a host of propositional truth claims about, among other things, who’s in and who’s out with God. It’s not for nothing that they have 70,000 missionaries around the world tasked with gaining new converts for the church. As a matter of fact, many Jews object to the Mormon practice of baptizing their dead. Maybe Romney ought to get his own house in order before he throws stones at Christians.
We can have a debate about whether someone who holds to a faith other than Judaism should have been the one to give that prayer in Jerusalem today, but what business was it, really, of Mitt Romney’s? That was for Israeli officials to decide, and they seemed to be perfectly fine with it—including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And President Trump’s Jewish daughter and son-in-law also didn’t seem to mind it. Aside from the Trump sycophantism—Jeffress cant’ seem to help himself—it was actually a pretty good prayer.
It’s important to understand what’s being implied—even demanded—by Romney and the forces on the left who are dripping with contempt for Jeffress’ sincerely held religious beliefs. Their message is clear: Biblically faithful Christians should no longer be permitted to speak their truth in the public marketplace of ideas—especially if they have some association with the government. The beliefs that Jeffress and other like him espouse are so hateful—so beyond the pale—that they must be suppressed… even criminalized under hate crime statutes.
If it’s not clear to you yet that biblically faithful Christians are quickly becoming the “other” in American life, you must have been living in a cave for the last few years. The left (including Hillary Clinton) likes to push the notion that Americans have “freedom of worship,” which is not nearly the same thing as the freedom of religion envisioned by our nation’s founders and articulated in the Bill of Rights. The distinction, in their minds, has to do with whether certain beliefs and practices ought to be banned from the public square and kept under wraps in churches. If they get their way, Christian expressions that conflict with the progressive orthodoxy—including and especially those that involve sexual morality—will soon be banned as hate speech. American Christians may soon find themselves unemployable, unable to run a business, and maybe even thrown in jail for their beliefs.
Shame on Mitt Romney for joining with the real bigots and perpetuating the myth that faithful Christians are evil.
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