In response to Dr. James White’s comments on whether those in the Roman commmunion and in the LDS church are saved, Paul Owen responded:
Mormons do NOT deny that Jesus is the God-man who died for our sins and rose again. They affirm all those points explicitly. And I see no reason to deny that many devoted followers of Christ can be found within the ranks of the LDS church.
Where to begin? No, Mormons do not believe Jesus was the God-man in the orthodox sense of that term. They do not believe in the hypostatic union. No, Mormons do not hold that Jesus died for our sins in the orthodox sense of that term, they think “Although we are redeemed unconditionally from the universal effects of the Fall, we are accountable for our own sins.” (source) In fact the doctrines of incarnation and the atonement are two important points of difference between orthodox Christianity and Mormonism – not to mention the denial of the Father’s true divinity, in the sense of being God from all eternity.
One reason (of many) to deny that there are many devoted followers of Christ in the LDS church is that the LDS church does not teach its followers the historical Jesus. There may be followers of Christ who are very deceived for a time, but the fruit of the Spirit would include an opening of their eyes to the manifest error of the LDS church.
Of course Roman Catholics are being saved! (I think it is better to put it that way and to say “is saved”.) Anyone who receives the sacrament of baptism, who believes in Christ, and “abides” in his body (through divinely appointed channels of grace) is being saved. The notion that God would exclude a person from heaven because they formally deny that faith is the “sole” instrument of their justification is absurd, and turns God into some sort of petty cosmic theology professor, who is more concerned with a person’s lexicon than the state of their heart. Anyone who can read the rich devotional writings of Pope Benedict XVI and conclude that this is not a true follower of Christ is spiritually tone deaf.
No man can serve two masters. The fictional Mary of Rome’s imagination is one master – the God of the Bible is another. It is plain that Benedict XVI is devoted to the former (here are three recent examples), therefore it is clear that he is not devoted to the latter, even if he attempts to worship God along side his idols.
The point is not that Christians are saved by perfect doctrine, but that one must trust in Christ alone for salvation – and most of those with whom I’ve interacted in the Roman communion are not doing that. God is a Jealous God, his name is Jealous. They trust in “Mary” (not the historical one – but the one they imagine can hear their prayers), they trust in their “saints,” and they even trust in their church and their pope. They are encouraged to trust in their works to ensure their final justification. That’s building one’s house on the sand.
Does that mean all those in the Roman communion are lost? No. It just means that in order to be saved, one must trust in Christ alone, which means not following what the Roman magisterium and Roman heirarchy practice and preach.
I won’t even go into the problems that P.O. himself has with his soteriology, beyond pointing out that it is plain that he does not hold to sola fide in the traditional Reformed sense of the term, no matter what his allegiance at the moment may be (he claims to be Anglican).
Ultimately none of us knows the inner secrets of a person’s soul and walk with Christ. We can only judge them by their fruit (and yes, heresy and false teachings can enter into that judgment). But any definition of “Christian” which would exclude the vast majority of Christians prior to the formalization of the Reformation slogans and definitions of justification is obviously short-sighted!
The vision trouble seems to be on P.O.’s side, for he has not properly seen the argument before him. We are not saying that people need to perfect doctrine, but rather that they must trust in Christ alone for salvation. People were doing that since the Apostolic era and people were doing that before Martin Luther was a twinkle in his father’s eye.
The real problem is defining Christianity by self-labeling, rather than by the Gospel. There will be many on judgment day who will say “Lord Lord!” but Christ will tell them, “I never knew you.”