Mitt Romney took to twitter on Sunday night to voice his opposition to Pastor Jeffress’ planned opening prayer for the new US Embassy in Jerusalem. Obviously, the opening ceremony is over and done with, but Romney still has to run for office. While the scenario is not relevant anymore, the substance of the twitter dispute still is.
Jeffress is a religious bigot according to Romney. Romney mentioned several examples to corroborate his claim. Jeffress defended himself in a tweet an hour later. Here is the exchange.
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.
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.
You can criticize Jeffress for his possible lack of tact and for his possible sycophantic relationship with Trump, but his theology is not wrong in this case.
Let’s look at each item that Romney brings up.
You can’t be saved by being a Jew:
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Romans 3:9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.
Romans 3:21-24 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus
Romans 11:1 Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham.
Romans 11:5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
Romans 11:11-12 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
Romans 11:28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs
To say that this is bigoted is just absurd. Paul was a Jew and he was busy writing that Jews and Gentiles alike can only be saved by faith in Christ. But Judaism is in a weird spot in the grand scheme of world religions. As the passage from John clearly states, all other religions lead to damnation, and while Judaism cannot save, God will save a remnant of Jews because of his covenant with the patriarchs. In Varughese’s Discovering the New Testament, the claim of antisemitism in the Gospel of Matthew is addressed. The Gospel of Matthew is very Jewish in substance and authorship. Scholars have suggested that the entire point of the Gospel of Matthew is to say that the correct way to be Jewish is to follow Jesus. Christianity itself is the fulfillment of Jewish law and faith in the promised messiah. Jeffress is not wrong to say that the old system cannot save. Paul says the law brings death!
Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell:
See John 14:6
Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in 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 them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
2nd Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.
Simply put, Mormonism is a different gospel. It adds to scripture. It denies the sufficiency of scripture. It denies the Trinity. It denies salvation by grace through faith alone. It asserts that Jesus was a created being. It denies creation ex nihilo. It teaches that humans can become gods through religious acts. This different gospel is also evident in the fact that Mormons want to convert Christians. Paul explicitly states that the gospel is fixed. Paul cannot change it. An angel from heaven cannot change it, which is precisely what Mormonism claims.
In this case, I would say that Jeffress is off the mark just a little bit. Mormonism is more than heresy. If something is heretical, it could at least still be classified under Christianity like the Emergent Church or the Prosperity Gospel (although both strain the definition from time to time). Mormonism is along the lines of Baha’i Faith.
Islam is a heresy from the pit of hell:
(NBC provided more context to this claim with a better explanation of what Jeffress said. According to NBC, Jeffress said Islam is a false religion with a false book from a false prophet and that if you sincerely follow Islam, you will go to hell)
There is no need to go into detail here other than to say that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, as revealed by scripture alone. The conclusion drawn from that statement is clear.