A Conversation with Christian Apologist Andrew Rappaport

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Rappaport Residence (Wikimedia Commons)

“Nope I did not waste the time [reading your response] since you clearly did not see your first sentence proved my point. No sens Eto waste time with a deceiver.” – Andrew Rappaport, Facebook conversation with Eric Lopez.

Evangelical Christian apologist Andrew Rappaport has a series of video courses regarding Mormonism which can be found here. Andrew’s videos display, among other things, his ignorance and idiotic findings about Mormonism. [1] Before I wrote a review of his videos, I wanted to reach out to him and explain that they were inaccurate. His response shows how intellectually dishonest he is, as he asserts that I’m going to hell and was deliberately lying to him.

Below I provide our conversation in full, without any major editing.

Me: Hello, I watched your videos about Mormons and within the first five minutes, you said that if someone says they’d rather be called a Latter-day Saint rather than a Mormon, that’s basically them saying that they are going to “try to deceive you.” Really? I choose to be called a Latter-day Saint over the word Mormon because it better represents who I am. And what kind of “introduction” is that? Imagine if a class you attended was an introduction to Christianity. And the teacher, rather than giving basic facts about Christian teachings and history, he instead gave a class on why Christianity is wrong and Islam (or something) was right? Would that be an ok introduction? You also said our website teaches that we teach the trinity. Actually, Mormons have consistently denied in believing in the trinitarian creeds. In 1988, for instance, Dr Daniel Peterson and Stephen Ricks wrote that “Latter-day Saints reject the doctrines of the Trinity as taught by most Christian churches today.” Jeffery R Holland, in 2007, spoke that “In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.” They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible. We agree with our critics on at least that point—that such a formulation for divinity is truly incomprehensible.” In an authoritative article commissioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it reads (emphasis added): “Latter-day Saints believe the melding of early Christian theology with Greek philosophy was a grave error. Chief among the doctrines lost in this process was the nature of the Godhead. The true nature of God the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a consequence, Latter-day Saints hold that God the Father is an embodied being, a belief consistent with the attributes ascribed to God by many early Christians. This Latter-day Saint belief differs from the post-New Testament creeds.” Mormons have consistently taught that we don’t believe in a Trinitarian God. I don’t know what part of the website you were reading, but I’ve been unable to track down any source that says we accept the trinity.

Andrew Rappaport: It is simple the LDS is founded on stating we do not have the truth now your church runs commercials stating you are Christians like us. Which is true

Me: Actually, Mormons have always believed and taught that we are Christian. This isn’t anything new.
And we have also always pointed out that we have differences. Have you read the works “How Wide the Divide” by Evangelical Scholar Craig Blomberg and Mormon scholar Stephen Robinson? It isn’t comprehensive, but it points out that Mormons and Evangelicals certainly do have differences, but those differences aren’t as big as we thought they were.

Andrew Rappaport: Just like us? Do not be deceiving now because that would prove me right
Me: Dude, I just said we have differences as well.
Andrew Rappaport: The church has a “we are Christian” campaign. The purpose is to state that LDS are like us real Christians. Now for the last time is that true or not. I understand you want to keep your deception and not lie at the same time but you cannot have it both ways. LDS is nothing like the Bible or the BOM. So are you Christian believing that Jesus is and always was God, that the Father is and always was God only in spirit and never in flesh OR do you pretend and deceive. The reality is that you are deceived and heading to hell and I do not want that for you but as long as you are unwilling to be honest with yourself then you will not repent.
Me: The LDS Church actually had an ad campaign titled “I’m a Mormon.” And we are Christian. Indeed, the protestant scholar John Turner recognized this in his book “The Mormon Jesus: A Biography.” He stated the following; “Given this trajectory [of modern LDS interactions with non-LDS faiths], it no longer makes sense to consider Mormonism a “new religion,” a “new world religion,” or even a “new religious tradition,” if that implies a supersession of or definitive break with Christianity. Instead, Mormonism is a vibrant new branch of Christianity, one in which temples, ordinances, and prophets have taken their place alongside a Jesus who is both utterly Christian and distinctively Mormon.” (Belkarp Harvard pg 294) And the Catholic theologian and philosopher Stephen Webb argues in his book “Mormon Christianity: What Other Can Learn From the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Oxford) extensively that Mormons are Christian. Are we Christian? I certainly believe so. Are we protestants? No. Of course not. But since you are so eager to say that Mormons say we are “just like you,” I challenge you to find a reputable Mormon scholar/authority who says we are just like other Protestant Christians. I haven’t seen one. I would be very surprised if I did. “So are you Christian believing that Jesus is and always was God” The assertion that Mormonism teaches that Christ was a created being (certainly, I must say, some Mormons DO believe this nonsense) is wrong on a number of levels. In the poorly researched book from reformed author Richard E Carroll “Mormonism and the Bible” (Mustang), he argues that “Mormons embrace the heresy of Arias. They see Christ as a created being.” This theology, as you may know, states that, while Christ pre-existed, he did not pre-exist eternally. Instead, he came into existence ex nihilo prior to the Genesis creation. There are a number of groups who have Arian Christology, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses (though with an added twist on identifying the pre-mortal Jesus as Michael). But in Latter-day Saint (Mormon) beliefs, is is a distinct teaching of LDS Christology that Jesus has eternally existed, His nature being that of an intelligence, with all the attributes inherent within intelligence (see Abraham 3, D&C 93). There is no creation ex nihilo of Jesus, as Arianism teaches. While probably a post Joseph Smith concept, the “Spirit birth” of Christ is wherein an intelligence is clothed upon with a spirit body, analogous to our spirit being clothed upon with a mortal physical body. Furthermore, Trinitatian scholars actually do believe that “Jesus” was created. In Trinitarian Christology, “Jesus” is a single person who with two natures and two wills, al la the Hypostatic Union, as defined in Chalcedon in AD 451. The human nature and will of Jesus did not actually pre-exist the Incarnation. Certainly, Trinitarian scholars have been forced to admit that one cannot speak of Jesus pre-existing unless pre-existence is normative of what it means to be “human.” Much work has been done in recent years in what is called, “Spirit Christology,” focusing on what precedes “Jesus”-the Word in John 1-as God. What follows are two quotes from leading studies on this issue, and how only holding that all humans, not just Jesus, pre-existing can one speak of the pre-existing Jesus. This comes from trinitarian scholar Bernard Byrne’s “Christ Pre-existence in Pauline Soteriology,” Theological studies, June 1997, 58/2: “By the same token, it is important to stress that in speaking of pre-existence, one is not speaking of a pre-existence of Jesus’ humanity. Jesus Christ did not personally pre-exist as Jesus. Hence one ought not to speak of a pre-existence of Jesus. Even to use the customary expression of the pre-existence of Christ can be misleading since the word “Christ” in its original meaning simply designates the Jewish Messiah, a figure never thought of as pre-existent in any personal sense. But in view of the Christian application of “Christ” to Jesus, virtually as a proper name and in a way going beyond his historical earthly existence, it is appropriate to discuss the issue in terms of the pre-existence of Christ, provided one intended thereby to designate simply the subject who came to historical human existence as Jesus, without any connotation that he pre-existed as a human being.” This second quotation comes from Trinitarian scholar Roger Haight’s “The Case for Spirit Christology,” Theological Studies, June 1992, 53/2 (Emphasis, mine) “And with the clarity that historical consciousness has conferred relative to Jesus’ being a human being in all things substantially like us, many things about the meaning of Incarnation too can be clarified. One is that one cannot really think of a pre-existence of Jesus . . . But one cannot think in terms of the pre-existence of Jesus; what is pre-existent to Jesus is God, and the God who became incarnate in Jesus. Doctrine underscores the obvious here that Jesus is really a creature like us, and a creature cannot pre-exist creation. One may speculate on how Jesus might have been present to God’s eternal intentions and so on, but a strict pre-existence of Jesus to his earthly existence is contradictory to his consubstantiality with us, unless we too were pre-existent.” “Mormonism,” of course, answers this problem. And we believe everyone had a personal pre-existence, not just Jesus. Furthermore, there is no doctrine creation ex nihilo in LDS theology to begin with. And can you stop saying that I’m trying to maintain a lie or deceive? I’m not stupid. People are allowed to believe different things and still be honest about those beliefs. This isn’t anything new or controversial. If I wanted to lie about you, I would do it somewhere you couldn’t really respond. But, instead, I’ve come straight to you. I’ve been straight up about what I believe and clear where I stand.
Andrew Rappaport: you can quote who ever you want you just prove me right you try to claim that you are like us when you are not. Joseph Smith was a known con man that is leading you to hell where he is now. repent .
if you were straight up you would state as the Joseph Smith did that we fell away and need him to restore the church. by the way that make Jesus a lair since He stated that they church would not fall away but my guess is that you have not studied the Bible.

Me: Good grief, Andrew. Did you even read what I wrote? I was pointing out a difference in Mormonism. I pointed out that “in Latter-day Saint beliefs, i[t] is a DISTINCT teaching of LDS Christology that Jesus has eternally existed . . . with all the attributes inherent with intelligence.” Notice the word “Distinct.” What do you think that means? Does that mean, “like everyone else?” As to your paragraph in regards to apostasy, it’s been a very consistent teachings that Mormons believe that Christians lost the priesthood and that it was restored through Joseph Smith by Jesus Christ, the Eternal God, Wonderful, the Son of God, the Messiah. This teaching can be found in Missionary manuals. It’s taught to everyone who takes the eight lessons from the LDS missionaries.

Andrew Rappaport: Nope I did not waste the time since you clearly did not see your first sentence proved my point. No sens Eto waste time with a deceiver.

Me: What sentence did I utter which proved your point?

Andrew Rappaport: Well I guess you did not read my much shorter response that pointed it out.

Me: I’ve read all your responses, Andrew. Could you point out which response in which you pointed out that I proved your point?
——————-

Notes

1. A much better introduction to Mormonism is Richard Bushman’s “Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction” (Oxford University) or Stephen Webb’s “Mormon Christianity” (Oxford University).
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