President Emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary: Christians, Mormons ‘Need to Work Together’

Mouw ssPROVO, UT — The former president of Fuller Theological Seminary appeared at Utah Valley University on Friday, speaking to hundreds about his belief that Christians and Mormons should focus on common ground and “work together for the cause of righteousness.”

Dr. Richard Mouw served as president of the California-based seminary for 20 years, until he returned to his position as a Professor of Faith and Public Life this year. Mouw has been known among evangelicals for defending Mormons—namely asserting that Mormonism is not a cult—and seeking to build bridges and friendships with Latter Day Saints.

“I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community,” he stated in 2004 at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, asserting that Christians have been “bearing false witness” against Mormon doctrine. “[L]et me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: We have sinned against you.”

On Friday, Mouw reiterated his beliefs while addressing a crowd at Orem LDS Institute of Religion, located on the university campus.

“Evangelicals and Mormons have a lot to talk about and a lot to share about the hope that lies within each of us,” he stated. “We need to work together, learning from each other and bearing witness to the hope that shines within us.”

“If we’re all saying, ‘Give me Jesus,’ all of [our] differences will dissipate into academic rarities that probably aren’t important when considered next to our desire to work together for the cause of righteousness,” Mouw continued.

According to Deseret News, he told those gathered that Christians often overlook the common ground that is shared with Mormons.

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“[W]e evangelicals have often focused on the origins of the Book of Mormon and questions of Joseph Smith’s prophetic authority,” he said, “but we haven’t paid attention to the content of the Book of Mormon.”

Mouw also advised that he often plays a message on the atonement by LDS Elder Jeffrey R. Holland for his students to show them the commonality between Mormons and evangelicals.

“I show that address to my students at Fuller,” he explained. “They tell me that if they didn’t know it was a Mormon speaking they would have thought it was Billy Graham.”

However, some have expressed deep concern over Mouw’s beliefs that Christians and Mormons should overlook their differences, make peace and work together to promote God’s kingdom. Joel Groat, Director of Ministries at the Institute for Religious Research in Grand Rapids, Michigan, told Christian News Network that he has been following Mouw’s comments for years and is disturbed by his continued assertions.

“I’m very troubled,” Groat stated. “What is most troubling is that I know Dr. Mouw knows better. He’s a very intelligent man. He’s been involved with discussions with Mormons, and he’s had access to loads of documentation, [some of which] I personally put in his hand.”


He explained that he spoke with Mouw earlier this year during his appearance in Grand Rapids and provided him with information on the doctrines of Mormonism, but Mouw has not recanted of his position.

“It is so short-sighted to focus on what might bring common cause temporarily for this life and ignore eternity with God and the repercussions of following a false Gospel and a false Christ,” he said. “If the linking arms requires that we set aside our core theological differences and our understanding of eternity and a right relationship with God, then I would have to completely disagree.”

In April of this year, Groat and the coalition Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR) also released an official statement taking Mouw to task for asserting that Christians have been fabricating doctrines about Mormonism.

“EMNR respectfully yet strongly disagrees with Dr. Mouw’s generalizations about evangelicals misrepresenting Mormon beliefs and practices,” the statement read. “What Dr. Mouw claims is ‘folk Mormonism’ wrongly treated as LDS doctrine by other evangelicals is actually central to the LDS conception of the gospel.”

Most significantly, Groat noted that Christians and Mormons possess a completely diametric understanding of redemption and the atonement–the central themes of the salvation message.

“When they talk about the redemptive power of Christ, Mormonism offers something different, as part of that atoning work is to allow men to achieve a level of godhood that is identical to the level of Godhood that God the Father holds now,” he stated. “It’s part of a whole packaged deal that goes back to the core teaching that God was once a man like us. And as a man He worked and progressed following laws and ordinances to the level of deity, and once He got to the level deity, He was able to procreate spirit children. … And He now holds out to us through the atoning work of Christ the opportunity to become gods like Him and continue that process.”

Groat said that Mouw is making a mistake by minimizing glaring doctrinal issues in order to forge friendships and working partnerships. In doing so, he said, Mouw is failing to give fellow Christians an accurate picture of the LDS faith.

“He knows,” Groat lamented. “And yet he continues to minimize the radical differences between Mormonism and Christianity that have eternal significance for people’s souls in favor of opening up dialogue based on superficial commonalities that seem to be only for temporal gain.”

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  • Darren Boehm

    is it any wonder Fuller is in trouble theologically for years the message coming out of fuller was we will tolerate this and we will tolerate that. This man speaking is one of the many examples of why Fuller Seminary has lost its way and every Bible believing christian student seeking to study Gods word should avoid it.The dead fish rots from the head down

  • darren

    I am not as concerned about the details of other Christians faith or beliefs. I have faith that Christ will judge each person by the intent of their heart. He has commanded me to love all men and leave the judging up the him.
    I love my Savior enough to do just that.
    In my opinion that is exactly what this humble pastor is attempting to do. To me he is acting as a modern day “Good Samaritan”. Something I believe our world needs more of.

    • LOVE? The word of God tells us to first examine ourselves to see if we be in the faith. He, the Word who is Jesus, tells us to judge ye what is right. He also tells us that ALL SCRIPTURE is given for DOCTRINE, REPROOF, CORRECTION, AND INSTRUCTION: when our doctrine is right and rightly divided, then our errors have been reproved, thus we will stand correct in the sight of God and know His way.

      Jesus said we will KNOW the truth, and it will make us free (a continual knowing). Those who create another Jesus and another gospel which the Apostle Paul rebukes are leading others to the burning fires of hell. LOVE WOULD NOT DO THAT (not yelling, just emphasizeing). How do I know? I know, because God is LOVE, and he has given us strict INSTRUCTION IN DOCTRINE on how to avoid being mislead. He showed us the way to heaven and the way to hell. The only thing we get to do is choose which place we will go to. We don’t get to teach another Jesus and another gospel and call it the love of God.

      If the doctrine is erroneous, then we are wrong, still not knowing what The Lord accounts as righteousness. Love does not bare false witness. The apostles Paul and Peter loved one another, but Paul certainly withstood Peter to his face when Peter was getting the doctrine wrong in practice.

      We cannot go off on our own tangents to appease the wickedness in man no matter how long we’ve been in the church, or how “educated”, or what works we’ve done. Those works that are not accepted by God will burn. Joseph Smith, was and still is wrong not according to me, but according to the word of God with which I agree.

      God, Jesus, will judge every man, and he will rightly judge what we have done with his word. Did we take him at his word in full faith, or did we allow our unbelief to sway us to some other false doctrine? It is right for any believer to examine the fruit of others to make certain they and others are not being led astray. It is right because God himself told us there will many Christs claiming to be him. Mormonism is but one false Christ; you can add any other “ism” claiming to be christian or not that goes against the word of God.

      Satan hates the word of God, for it is the power of God unto salvation. We are to stand, not give heed to seducing spirits, against the wiles of the devil. We are to expose his lies with the gospel light of God’s truth. That is living your neighbor as yourself.

  • Saulomon Kayne

    Quibble about who is a Christian and who is not, meanwhile the world descends into wickedness and the devil laughs. United we stand, divided we fall.

    • Jesus said he came to bring a sword, to set at variance even within the same household. He’s going to separate the chaff from the wheat, the goats from the sheep. He is going to display the genuine from the fakers. The Holy Ghost is keeping the CHURCH/BRIDE OF CHRIST: keeping us from the wickedness in this world unto the day of redemption. Jesus has already prayed, in St. John 17, that we will be one, in him and with him. Apostles John and Paul and Peter tells us how we are made one, by the water, the Spirit and the blood of Jesus. Anything that is contrary to this is the move of the spirit of antichrist to create false unity to deceive the elect if it were possible.

      Quibbling? No! We are in defense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If the world wanted Jesus they will hear, but they want religion without Jesus Christ as he is. God by his Spirit has called us out from loving the world and the things that are in it. He’s called us to be holy, set apart. We cannot join ourselves to Belial’s table and Christ Jesus’ too. We have to come out from among them and be separate so that God will receive us. This is his word.

      The world’s going to claim peace and safety, unity, just as in Babylon, but God’s said there will be sudden destruction. If we are not one with God, we will not fall in that destruction, because it is His Spirit that would have sealed us for the day of redemption. Now do you see why it’s not quibbling, but is necessary to prepare to meet our maker why others as myself stand up for the gospel truth? I hope so.

  • Patrick Ashiedu

    let us focus on the common basic, and live the how for God to judge. I am a Mormon we all believe in Christ, the atonement and eternal life. how Christ, how is God, how is eternal life all how is for God, we are all one. but at the last days this differences will be resolved before the end all who believe in God and Christ will be one irrespective of the how differences.

  • Dan

    Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS/Latter-day Saints/saints/nicknamed: “Mormons”) believe and teach as doctrine –

    That Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God, a member of the Godhead, with God the Father and the Holy Ghost. [official LDS doctrine]

    That Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, foretold in the Old Testament of the Bible. [official LDS doctrine]

    That he was born in Bethlehem of Judea of an earthly mother, a virgin named Mary, the Only Begotten Son of God the Father. [official LDS doctrine]

    That he was born with a physical body of flesh and bone. [official LDS doctrine]

    That he suffered and then died on the cross to atone for all mankind, overcame death, was resurrected and lives. [official LDS doctrine]

    That Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah and Savior of the world. [official LDS doctrine]

    That God loved us so he allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer for our sins. [official LDS doctrine]

    That he was resurrected with a “glorified/incorruptible” body of flesh and bone. [official LDS doctrine]

    That he will return in the same manner that they saw him leave. [official LDS doctrine]

    That we must accept Jesus as our Savior, and only through him can we return to live with God our Father. [official LDS doctrine]

    That we are not saved by our works, but through the grace of Christ. [official LDS doctrine]

    Simply put – LDS doctrine teaches to worship Jesus Christ as the Savior, Redeemer, Lord, Creator, Prince of Peace, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Mighty one of Israel, and the author of their Faith.

    • Every decent counterfeit has a lot that makes it look like the real thing – its not the similarities that make it a counterfeit – its the differences. Please check them out here:

      • AMEN, AND AMEN. There can’t be a counterfeit unless there is a genuine. The knock-off sports jerseys and handbags resemble the real deal, but they lack the seal of authentication; they may mimic it, but when compared to the genuine, they stand out like the illegitimate things they are.

  • Robert Starling

    As a Mormon I’ve spent many hours with my good Evangelical Protestant and Catholic friends fighting pornography in our community in California and making sandwiches for the homeless in Salt Lake City. I believe we were all following the intent and teachings of Christ’s ministry. I think this is what Mouw was saying, that we can all do a lot of good for Christ if we will cooperate in worthy efforts. A friend of mine at the largest Christian radio station in the U.S. once said “We don’t have to always see eye-to-eye on everything to walk arm-in-arm in a righteous cause.”

    When tornadoes ripped through Birmingham Alabama several years ago hundreds of Mormons (including me)grabbed their chainsaws and spent days clearing downed trees and helping people of all denominations. And we were grateful for the sandwiches provided at lunchtime by our Baptist friends. We did not ask about their theological beliefs. We were just following Christ’s admonition to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

    This can also apply to the talking we do about the faith and practices of others who claim to follow Jesus. Are those who call Mormons racist “lying for the Lord” themselves when they conveniently omit the historical fact that in the 1800’s when Mormons were against slavery there were Protestant churches promoting it? When black Baptists and Methodists were forced to create their own congregations in order to worship Christ there was no such segregation among the Mormons.

    There are beams and motes in the eyes of those who criticize the Mormons, and Groat is obviously just trying to promote his own miniscule “ministry”.

    I think that if Mouw and Groat were to stand together before Christ (as of course we all will do someday), Jesus would favor Mouw’s approach.

    Oh, and while I’m at it …. To those who say that the LDS teaching that man may become like God is not Christian, I suggest you check out the teachings of the Founding Fathers of Christianity. Much has been said of Lorenzo Snow’s couplet: “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become”. This is almost an exact repetition of a similar couplet that was common in the early Christian church which said: “God became man, so that men could learn how to become gods.”
    This phrase was repeated many times in the writings of Ireneaus, Origin, Clement, and many others. If you don’t believe me just Google that phrase. Surprise! It’s a Christian doctrine!

    • Robert, I’m not at all against working for common cause with those who don’t share my faith – unfortunately that was not made clear in the quotes that were used. I was, and am troubled when evangelicals who desire to share common cause, misrepresent another faith to make that faith more appealing to their fellow evangelicals.

      I’m also pretty sure that given the time you’ve spent with evangelicals, you know that the biblical teaching that God (who had always been God) took on human flesh so Jesus could become “God with us” is not at all the same as the LDS teaching that God the Father (who was not always God) was first a man who had to progress to Godhood so that we could progress to the same level of Godhood he currently has. If you are aware of this difference then you are intentionally misleading your readers when you suggest that the Lorenzo snow couplet and the quote from early church fathers are speaking of the same thing – and have provided yet another example of how LDS people will intentionally deceive others to promote Mormonism.

      If you are not aware of how these are different (and I hope this is the case), I recommend this well-documented article by Dr. Ron Huggins that addresses it and other related issues. It was originally published in JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society) and is available for free here:

  • Kent

    It’s amazing some of the shouting matches and head butting I’ve read here. The original definition of “Christian” is someone who accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the World. I am a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and know I’m Christian by the original definition. Anyone who says I’m not Christian is using a warped, twisted, corrupt, biased definition. I could throw the same accusation at them! It’s interesting that in researching I find that Catholics, Orthodox, and many protestants are also frequently accused of not being Christian; this is also due to a biased definition of that word. The biggest common denominator we all have is a belief in a supreme being, so when some hardened atheist comes along and bashes us for believing in anything we soon find ourselves allied in defense of our faith. Personally if any of those guys asked me to show them God existed I would counter by asking them to show me he doesn’t. Of course they can’t or I’ll reject anything they try to use. I wouldn’t bother trying to prove anything to them since they would only reject it. I testify to the truth of the Church and we as a church will continue to assert that. But notice we don’t try to prove it. Often our critics present what they call irrefutable proof of our false doctrines and then say we’re just brainwashed when we reject the so-called proof. There’s some truth there: my brain was washed along with the rest of me when I was baptized. Again if anyone tried to demand I show evidence that proves our church is true I would say proof shmoof and evidence shmevidence. The things of God aren’t meant to be proven with physical evidence; it always has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. Besides you can have all the proof on earth for anything and there will always be people who refuse to accept it. Take for example the flat Earth society who reject the essentially proven fact that the earth is a spherical body suspended in space. If you point out satellite pictures they’ll just claim the pictures are fakes. There’s simply no use arguing. The proof as to which is the Savior’s true church will come when He comes again to usher in the Millennium. Even with that all religions will continue to exist during his reign; not just Christians but Jews, Muslims, and anyone else you can think of. Dr. Mauw is being very Christ like in not attacking LDS doctrines and seeking a working relationship, especially in those many areas where we’re all in the same boat. I know many missionaries of other faiths try to push their agenda at latter-day saints and complain of being treated rudely when they’re rejected. How many people of any religion would take kindly to anyone attacking their beliefs? It’s always crazy how every general conference attracts all kinds of demonstrators and protestors. They have their right as long as they stay on public property and don’t get in anybody’s way. All they’re doing is wasting their time and making fools of themselves as they’re completely ignored; all the literature they hand out ends up in trash cans. Often certain different protest groups end up clashing with each other. Also, another important note; fully devout latter-day saints, individually and as an organization, choose to fear God more than man and won’t be pressured into changing doctrines and policies. People calling for those kinds of things will find their demands falling on deaf ears. To top this off I recognize we all have ten to twenty similarities to every difference as different religions. If it ever happens for me I’ll consider it an honor to team up with many other faiths in common good causes. I don’t push my faith in anybody’s face but I don’t hide it either. I try to be a light to the world and live my faith in front of people. If anyone is interested and has questions for me I’ll gladly answer them. I don’t convert anyone; it’s up to individuals to convert themselves in the end. If someone really desires to know the truth the Holy Ghost will testify to them; if they don’t really want to know He won’t bother with them. If someone was trying to pull me out of my church they would find me too firmly rooted; they’d either let go of me or get pulled into it. My favorite desire would be to lead back those who’ve fallen away, I e lost sheep. I know some of those lost sheep don’t want to be found but I’ll do my best. Well, just thought I’d get a word in.

    • True believers evangelize to draw to he Savior Jesus Christ, and not an organization based on faith. Our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and the collective body of true worshipers of The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit (theses three are one) are the Church/the called out.

      Yes, there are those who employ bad practices while evangelizing to the world, such as those who protest at funerals… They are not being led by the Spirit of God but by men.

      Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Ghost would come to comfort them, empower them, to show them things to come, to lead them and guide them in all truth, to seal them unto the day of redemption, to convict the world of sin, and draw men to the Father.

      Therefore, I agree that the Holy Spirit draws us to God, but he draws us to the TRUTH, and the love of God constrains us to abide in Truth (Jesus is the TRUTH, THE WAY AND THE LIFE). What makes the humongous difference is what others are calling truth here; that is what is strongly and rightly contended for by those as myself.
      Everything that does not measure up to the word of God is rejected by God, and Morminism is one of those things that does not.

      Being water baptized is a physical or outward show of one’s faith, but it is no guarantee of salvation. Jesus told the religious leader Nicodemus, “You must be born again”. We are born by the Spirit, Water and the Blood of Jesus. Jesus told us that we have continue in the faith, in his word and in his love to enter into the kingdom of heaven. We cannot get off onto another path ( another Jesus/Gospel): he warned that even the devils believe (that he is the Son of God: the demons in the man possessed with devils said as much in the gospels but Jesus rebuked him, because he was not worshiping God), but the devils which believe cannot be regenerated. We must be regenerated/born again serving The Lord in Spirit and in TRUTH. We indeed must fear God enough to love his truth.

      Christ Jesus did not work his way up to the Godhead. He always was, is and ever shall be God. Works are not the way into the kingdom of heaven; Jesus is the one and only way. He said no man comes to the Father but by me; he is the door. We are saved by grace, and not by works that any man should boast; it is the gift of God: we cannot merit it with our works. Jesus is the gift of God, and we have to come his way. Yes we work for the kingdom of heaven to persuade others to Christ Jesus, but we don’t work to merit God’s salvation that was so freely given to whosoever will call who call upon him.

      Every man’s works are going to be tried in the fire whether good or evil works, by Jesus, and in case you missed it, God is a consuming fire. Some peoples works will burn. Many are going to cry, “Lord, Lord haven’t we done many good works in your name”? Jesus is going to tell them, “I NEVER KNEW YOU”. Some people are going to hear this dismissal who have worked tirelessly but not righteously for good causes. It’s not the cause only it’s the word of God that matters.

      Now, we work to because we have faith in God, and we are to KNOW them who labor among us. We are to teach all men to observe God’s WAY/TRUTH. God intended for us to be amongst the unbelievers, and believers as his example supports, but he did not change his way to accommodate them. He did not suggest his truth was optional to be approved of them. He was without sin. He did not compromise while he showed them Love/God the Father. He was a swift witness against the religious hypocrites leading the people astray, even as He is today, and will finally prove.

      Those people who will refuse to worship Jesus during his earthly reign will still not be under his grace/favor. They will benefit from Him, and they will ultimately be thrown into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: “he that loveth and maketh a lie; the fearful and the unbelieving will have their part in that lake. You can stay firmly rooted in your church, loving that lie, or you can choose to be grafted into the Branch Jesus Christ truly born again of His Spirit. That’s your choice, but as for me and my house, I chose to believe Jesus’ report and serve The Lord. No one is going to bind me to their religion. I choose God’s WAY.

  • Sir Tainly

    From the story:

    “Groat said that Mouw is making a mistake by minimizing glaring doctrinal issues in order to forge friendships and working partnerships. In doing so, he said, Mouw is failing to give fellow Christians an accurate picture of the LDS faith.

    “He knows,” Groat lamented. “And yet he continues to minimize the radical differences between Mormonism and Christianity that have eternal significance for people’s souls in favor of opening up dialogue based on superficial commonalities that seem to be only for temporal gain.””


    Fascinating exchanges and discussion here on this story.

    On the one hand, desiring to work together for common interest is commonplace in American politics to the point of being a cliche’ generating normality…such as: “politics makes strange bedfellows”.

    On the other hand both Christians and Mormons have some huge doctrinal and practical differences with each other and a history that has at times even been violent.

    For whatever it’s worth to you, I have seen reports concerning both Christianity and Mormonism that has included reports of cult-like behavior, dirty tricks and lying being rationalized simply because of the so-called purity of the cause, and overbearing and unethical ministers that prey on the vulnerable. And that in no way lessens the doctrinal differences…of which I have some strongly held opinions but choose not to make them an issue here.

    Instead of stating an opinion as to whether or not Christianity and Mormonism “should” work together or not in areas of common interest, I shall instead watch to see whether or not it becomes a growing reality.