Kyle Beshears returns to Gospel Tangents, and we’re going to cover some difficult topics. Does he think Mormons are Christians? How does he justify his answer? I think you’ll be surprised by his answer. Check out our conversation…

Are Mormons Tier 1 Christians?

Kyle: We’re going to emphasize what we would consider like, top level tier one issues. And we’re not going to fight over secondary or third level issues, which is what’s happening and Joseph Smith’s day: modes of baptism, church membership. Should you be an independent church? Or should you belong to a synod? These are the things that people are fighting and splitting over. And we’re not going to do that at our church.

So, again, we just want to emphasize the things that bring us together in unity, rather than theologically police or gatekeep those second and third level issues.

GT  27:51 Well, I want to know what is a tier one issue to you?

Kyle  27:53 That’s a great question. So a tier one issue to us would be for some of the things are very basic, like the existence of God, the coming of Christ in the flesh.

GT  28:02 I’m going to tick off if Mormons meet this. Yeah, so far, so good.

Kyle  28:07 And what I’m getting at is, these are very clear things written in scripture. So the theme is going to be at the end of the day is Sola Scriptura scripture. Right? The coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh, because if you deny Jesus came in the flesh, John says in First John, you’re not of us. I’m sorry.

GT 28:21 Mormons meet that one.

Kyle  28:22 {You must believe in] the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

GT  28:25 Mormons check off that one.

Kyle  28:26 The coming of Christ again, to judge the living in the dead.

GT  28:29 Ok.

Kyle  28:30 Bodily. This isn’t a metaphor of how things are going to [be.] It’s going to happen in the end.

GT  28:34 We’re still tier one.

Kyle  28:35 You’re still tier one. Yeah, there’s a lot of agreement with tier one. It’s just when you double click on the terms,

GT  28:44 {chuckles}

Kyle  28:44 The regeneration of the Holy Spirit, the work of salvation is not yours.

GT  28:51 It’s like being born again. Is that what you’re saying?

Kyle  28:53 Being born again, yes. It’s completely a work of God. To me, to nuance that for a second, I reject the idea of having a born again, experience. I know, we hear that a lot. I don’t think that’s a biblical thing. And this is why. Do you remember being born?

GT  29:12 No.

Kyle  29:13 But how can you prove to me that you were?

GT  29:15 I’m here.

Kyle  29:15 You’re here. So the imagery or the metaphor that Jesus is giving to Nicodemus in John, by being born again, is you don’t necessarily have to remember when you were born. But you need to have evidence that you were born again. How does evidence being born again? It’s changed life. It’s fruit of the Holy Spirit, et cetera, et cetera. So we do need to see essentially, sanctification in your life and that is the work of the Holy Spirit as well.

GT  29:39 Mormons check off this one. We’re still tier one.

Kyle 29:41 Here we go. Are you ready?

GT  29:42 I’m ready. I’ve got my seatbelt.

Kyle  29:44 Here’s where we’re going divert paths. The highest earthly authority is scripture, in Scripture alone. 66 books in the Bible, Hebrew Bible and Christian New Testament.

GT  29:56 [Buzzer sound]

Kyle  29:57 We don’t accept living prophets. We believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So if there is some kind of like, if God speaks to somebody, you have to run it through. You have to run it through the firewall of scriptures.

GT  30:14 Let me stop you there for a minute because I know that Greek Orthodox, have more than 66 books in the Bible. My understanding is, and maybe I should list them: Tobit, Maccabees (first and second.) Yeah, the Apocrypha, we would call it. I think there’s some Ethiopian churches that have even different [books.]

Kyle  30:44 And on top of that, the Greek Orthodox have 151 Psalms. So even in the text that like we would agree on they [have more.] Because in the Protestant/Catholic canon, Psalms is only 150.

GT  30:56 But they would still meet the tier one definition. Whereas Mormons, because we have the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, we’re kicked out of the club.

Kyle  31:06 Well, you weren’t kicked out, you never showed up to begin with

GT  31:11 Ouch!

Kyle  31:13 That’s not an offensive thing, because our church unites around that covenant, why what a Latter Day Saints want to join our church? And so it’s not just like a gatekeeping thing. It’s also like, Hey, if you’re part of this community, this is what we’re [about.]

GT  31:30 You’ve got to dump all that other stuff.

Kyle  31:32 You’d have to. Yeah, and it’s also like, this is what you’re committing to, if you want to commit. Sure you can come in, but this is the covenant community that we think is most important, and we believe is true. And so if you don’t, you’re probably not going to like it here. Right? So, it’s not like, we’re trying to be mean. We just want to make sure. If you’re sold, and you’re on board with this, come on! Let’s go. But if you’re not.

What do you think of Kyle’s definition of a Tier One Christian?

The LDS Church doesn’t allow females to hold the priesthood. Is it similar in the Baptist Church? Is confession of sexual sin important to Baptists? How do Baptists handle sexual abuse cases? I put Kyle Beshears on the hot seat so you can see the similarities and differences with the LDS Church.

Baptist View of Female Priesthood

Kyle:  So you have conservative institutions like Southern Seminary and Louisville, where I did my Ph.D., that sees the office of pastor and the function of the pastor as being a preacher or a teacher is reserved for men only.

GT  29:38  Women are to be silent in church to quote scripture.

Kyle  29:42  Well, to quote scripture, there are there are myriad roles for women to serve in church. It’s just not pastors, not the lead pastor. And that’s actually a pretty debated topic right now because the Saddleback Church in California you might not know the church but you probably Yeah, the Pastor Rick Warren. Okay, purpose driven life. See, they’re an SBC church. Oh, he’s since stepped aside retired as the pastor.

GT  30:09  They have been in the news lately. They were breaking off, right?

Kyle  30:15  Correct. Yeah. So over the issue of the fact that the pastor is male and he is co-pastoring with his wife. So that’s the big hubbub on that side.

GT  30:26  So the Southern Baptists don’t like women pastors.

Kyle  30:30  No. and there’s a movement right now, in the convention, this is getting into one denomination within evangelicalism in specific but there’s a movement within the SBC right now, to present motions this summer, to kind of codify the prohibition of women in at least the lead pastoral position. If I understand, the [resolution.]

GT  30:55  They could be an assistant pastor, perhaps.

Kyle  30:58  Perhaps, but not like Rick Warren, right, or co-pastor, or something like that. Then on the other side of things you’ve got, you know, like, United West United Methodist Church,

GT  31:13

Not United anymore.

Kyle  31:14  No, they’re not. They’re struggling to maintain that unity they’re over this issue, or, one of them. I think that’s one of the catalysts for [split.] But the ordination of women in that denomination is fine. Where we land at our church is that we incorporate women into the service, like leadership of our church. We have women on staff, but the the eldership, the leaders, we believe is restricted to men. And the reason is our reading of the New Testament epistles. Overwhelmingly, the candidates that we see that are selected by Jesus are the top disciples who are men, the pastoral examples that were given our Paul, the mentorship that Paul gets to Timothy defaults in his advice for pastoral leadership to men.

Marriage vs Single

Kyle:  But the very last thing that we would want at our church is for a woman to assume that she has some kind of intrinsic value that’s less than a man or that she is somehow in her being just by being a woman subservient to men. And so one of the things that we go to very often is the metaphor that we see in Genesis of the creation of man and woman, that that we believe the proper value of a man is lacking unless a woman comes and that’s why like God creates women. The way that he creates…

GT  33:00  That’s very pro marriage I guess you could say.

Kyle  33:03  But not to the detriment of singles. Right? So this may be a difference in our theology compared to Latter-day Saints. You don’t need [to be married.] The gospel is the ideal. Marriage proclaims the gospel to creation whether people know it or not. That’s Paul’s argument in Ephesians 1 tying it to Genesis 1. And singleness is valued in our church. We believe singleness is a gift and God calls people to singleness.

Kyle  33:41  I can’t remember. I believe it’s in 1st Corinthians. But Paul has this side tangent, where he says, “Hey, I wish that you were like me, in other words, single, unmarried so that you can minister more because when a married couple has ministered, they owe their first allegiance of their service and bind to self and pouring out love to their spouse. The most important person to a married person ideally is their spouse. Right? So Paul’s like, “If you’re single like me, you could be doing all this other stuff.” But I get it. Marriage is important too, so we see…

GT  34:19  It’s better to marry than to burn.

Kyle  34:21  Right, right. We see married, we see singleness as being equally valid as marriage.

Handling Sexual Abuse

I filled in Kyle on the recent sex abuse case in Arizona in which an LDS bishop called the help line and appears to have been told not to call the police about sexual abuse of the man’s children. I asked Kyle how he would handle a similar situation.

GT  48:32  So the question is, if this were to happen to you, a member of your congregation, you’re the pastor. Somebody says, “I’ve been abusing children. I want to repent.” Would you call the police? What would do?

Kyle  48:51  I would say, “Praise God you want to repent. You’re going to jail.” Okay. I’m going to continue to pastor him and commit to visiting you in the jail. Your sin has consequences. This is assuming I know, for a fact this abuse is happening.

Many churches are struggling with how to handle LGBT members. The United Methodist Church is splitting over the issue of gay clergy. What are the similarities and differences between Baptists and LDS? We’ll also discuss the recent apology from the Baptist Church over race issues. Check out our conversation…

Would LGBT Feel Welcome at Kyle’s Church?

GT  13:15  Would you officiate at a gay wedding?

Kyle  13:17  I would not. I would not.

GT  13:25  So knowing this, would a gay couple feel comfortable going to your church?

Kyle  13:28  Probably not. Probably not. And I don’t blame them, but I’m also not dismissing them. We’re discounting them. That’s not a litmus test for my love for you. And it’s certainly not a litmus test for my respect for you. And I hope it would be the same the other way around. And I’ll be frank. That rejection hurts. And I don’t want anyone to hear that. I don’t see it or sense it or even care about that kind of rejection. It’s just that when I’m reading scripture, God has created us in such a way that He desires a blessing to be found and us pursuing the ideals for what it means to be a man and a woman. And I want to encourage anybody I possibly can to strike after those ideals, not because you’re going get some kind of reward, but that there’s a there’s a blessing in that.

Kyle  14:44  So at the end of the day, you must love your neighbor as yourself. And that’s really hard for both sides to hear. So I’ll say this. If you’re or a gay or lesbian man or a woman or transgender, and I feel the disappointment or even the tension, please love me like you love yourself. Because that’s my default mode towards you: to love you as I love myself. And I think if people could do that, you would be able to withstand the kind of disappointment that comes from disagreement. And, I think there’s actually going to have really deeper level of something that in the dialogues, that that helps us overcome anger, and isolation.

GT  15:40  I appreciate you answering these questions, because my reason for asking them is, we’re struggling in our church. And I want to find out if you’re struggling in your church, and it sounds like you are.

Kyle  15:54  Yes. So again, Y’all used to be in a bubble, until the railroad came. We’ve never been in a bubble. So, I actually think (I’ll say it.) I think Latter-day Saints and evangelicals should get together to have more conversations like this to compare notes.

GT  16:19  We should.

Kyle  16:19    And to learn with each other, and not in isolation against each other.

What do you think of Kyle’s answers? Are they ahead of behind the LDS Church on these hot-button issues?