Skip to comments.Is Mormonism Christian?: A Comparison of Mormonism and Historic Christianity
Posted on 12/26/2010 5:29:46 PM PST by Colofornian
Is Mormonism Christian? This may seem like a puzzling question to many Mormons as well as to some Christians. Mormons will note that they include the Bible among the four books which they recognize as Scripture, and that belief in Jesus Christ is central to their faith, as evidenced by their official name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Furthermore, many Christians have heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Christian hymns and are favorably impressed with the Mormon commitment to high moral standards and strong families. Doesnt it follow that Mormonism is Christian?
"To fairly and accurately resolve this question we need to carefully compare the basic doctrines of the Mormon religion with the basic doctrines of historic, biblical Christianity."
To fairly and accurately resolve this question we need to carefully compare the basic doctrines of the Mormon religion with the basic doctrines of historic, biblical Christianity. To represent the Mormon position we have relied on the following well-known Mormon doctrinal books, the first three of which are published by the Mormon Church: Gospel Principles (1997), Achieving a Celestial Marriage (1976), and A Study of the Articles of Faith (1979) by Mormon Apostle James E. Talmage, as well as Doctrines of Salvation (3 vols.) by the tenth Mormon President and prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Mormon Doctrine (2nd ed., 1979) by Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
1. Is There More Than One True God?
The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that there is only one True and Living God and apart from Him there are no other Gods (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10,11; 44:6,8; 45:21,22; 46:9; Mark 12:29-34).
By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that there are many Gods (Book of Abraham 4:3ff), and that we can become gods and goddesses in the celestial kingdom (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20; Gospel Principles, p. 245; Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 130). It also teaches that those who achieve godhood will have spirit children who will worship and pray to them, just as we worship and pray to God the Father (Gospel Principles, p. 302).
2. Was God Once a Man Like Us?
The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that God is Spirit (John 4:24; 1 Timothy 6:15,16), He is not a man (Numbers 23:19; Hosea 11:9; Romans 1:22, 23), and has always (eternally) existed as God all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present (Psalm 90:2; 139:7-10; Isaiah 40:28; Luke 1:37).
By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that God the Father was once a man like us who progressed to become a God and has a body of flesh and bone (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22; "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!" from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-347; Gospel Principles, p. 9; Articles of Faith, p. 430; Mormon Doctrine, p. 321). Indeed, the Mormon Church teaches that God himself has a father, and a grandfather, ad infinitum (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 373; Mormon Doctrine, p. 577).
3. Are Jesus and Satan Spirit Brothers?
The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that Jesus is the unique Son of God; he has always existed as God, and is co-eternal and co-equal with the Father (John 1:1, 14; 10:30; 14:9; Colossians 2:9). While never less than God, at the appointed time He laid aside the glory He shared with the Father (John 17:4, 5; Philippians 2:6-11) and was made flesh for our salvation; His incarnation was accomplished through being conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:34-35).
By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that Jesus Christ is our elder brother who progressed to godhood, having first been procreated as a spirit child by Heavenly Father and a heavenly mother; He was later conceived physically through intercourse between Heavenly Father and the virgin Mary (D&C 93:21; Journal of Discourses, 1:50-51; Gospel Principles, p. 11-13; Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 129; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 546-547; 742; Ezra Taft Benson, Come unto Christ, p. 4; Robert L. Millet, The Mormon Faith: Understanding Restored Christianity, p. 31). Mormon doctrine affirms that Jesus, all angels, Lucifer, all demons, and all human beings are originally spirit brothers and sisters (Abraham 3:22-27; Moses 4:1-2; Gospel Principles, pp. 17-18; Mormon Doctrine, p. 192).
4. Is God a Trinity?
The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost are not separate Gods or separate beings, but are distinct Persons within the one Triune Godhead. Throughout the New Testament the Son and the Holy Spirit, as well as the Father are separately identified as and act as God (Son: Mark 2:5-12; John 20:28; Philippians 2:10,11; Holy Spirit: Acts 5:3,4; 2 Corinthians 3:17,18; 13:14); yet at the same time the Bible teaches that these three are only one God (see point 1).
By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate Gods (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370; Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577), and that the Son and Holy Ghost are the literal offspring of Heavenly Father and a celestial wife (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 2, p. 649).
5. Was The Sin Of Adam and Eve a Great Evil Or a Great Blessing?
The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that the disobedience of our first parents Adam and Eve was a great evil. Through their fall sin entered the world, bringing all human beings under condemnation and death. Thus we are born with a sinful nature, and will be judged for the sins we commit as individuals. (Ezekiel 18:1-20; Romans 5:12-21).
By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that Adams sin was "a necessary step in the plan of life and a great blessing to all of us" (Gospel Principles, p. 33; Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:25; Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 114-115).
6. Can We Make Ourselves Worthy Before God?
The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross we are spiritually "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1,5) and are powerless to save ourselves. By grace alone, apart from self-righteous works, God forgives our sins and makes us worthy to live in His presence (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6). Our part is only to cling to Christ in heartfelt faith. (However, it is certainly true that without the evidence of changed conduct, a persons testimony of faith in Christ must be questioned; salvation by grace alone through faith, does not mean we can live as we please Romans 6:1-4).
By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that eternal life in the presence of God (which it terms "exaltation in the celestial kingdom") must be earned through obedience to all the commands of the Mormon Church, including exclusive Mormon temple rituals. Works are a requirement for salvation (entrance into the "celestial kingdom") Gospel Principles, p. 303-304; Pearl of Great Price Third Article of Faith; Mormon Doctrine, pp. 339, 671; Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 25:23).
7. Does Christ's Atoning Death Benefit Those Who Reject Him?
The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that the purpose of the atoning work of Christ on the cross was to provide the complete solution for humankinds sin problem. However, those who reject Gods grace in this life will have no part in this salvation but are under the judgment of God for eternity (John 3:36; Hebrews 9:27; 1 John 5:11-12).
By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that the purpose of the atonement was to bring resurrection and immortality to all people, regardless of whether they receive Christ by faith. Christs atonement is only a partial basis for worthiness and eternal life, which also requires obedience to all the commands of the Mormon church, including exclusive Mormon temple rituals (Gospel Principles, pp. 74-75; Mormon Doctrine, p. 669).
8. Is The Bible The Unique and Final Word of God?
The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that the Bible is the unique, final and infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:1,2; 2 Peter 1:21) and that it will stand forever (1 Peter 1:23-25). Gods providential preservation of the text of the Bible was marvelously illustrated in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that the Bible has been corrupted, is missing many "plain and precious parts" and does not contain the fullness of the Gospel (Book of Mormon 1 Nephi 13:26-29; Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 190-191).
9. Did The Early Church Fall Into Total Apostasy?
The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that the true Church was divinely established by Jesus and could never and will never disappear from the earth (Matthew 16:18; John 15:16; 17:11). Christians acknowledge that there have been times of corruption and apostasy within the Church, but believe there has always been a remnant that held fast to the biblical essentials.
By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that there was a great and total apostasy of the Church as established by Jesus Christ; this state of apostasy "still prevails except among those who have come to a knowledge of the restored gospel" of the Mormon Church (Gospel Principles, pp. 105-106; Mormon Doctrine, p. 44).
Conclusion: The above points in italics constitute the common gospel believed by all orthodox Christians through the ages regardless of denominational labels. On the other hand, some new religions such as Mormonism claim to be Christian, but accept as Scripture writings outside of the Bible, teach doctrines that contradict the Bible, and hold to beliefs completely foreign to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles.
Mormons share with orthodox Christians some important moral precepts from the Bible. However, the above points are examples of the many fundamental and irreconcilable differences between historic, biblical Christianity and Mormonism. While these differences do not keep us from being friendly with Mormons, we cannot consider them brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible specifically warns of false prophets who will teach "another gospel" centered around "another Jesus," and witnessed to by "another spirit" (2 Corinthians 11:4,13-15; Galatians 1:6-9). Based on the evidence presented above, we believe Mormonism represents just such a counterfeit gospel.
It has been pointed out that if one claimed to be a Mormon but denied all the basic tenets of Mormonism that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is true and divinely inspired, that god was once a man who progressed to godhood through keeping the laws and ordinances of the Mormon Church, and that the Mormon Church was divinely established the Mormon Church would reject such a persons claim to being a Latter-day Saint. One cannot fairly call oneself a Mormon if one does not believe the fundamental doctrines taught by the Mormon Church. By the same token, if the Mormon Church does not hold to even the basic biblical truths believed by the greater Christian community down through the ages, how can Christians reasonably be expected to accept Mormonism as authentic Christianity?
If the Mormon Church believes it is the only true Christian Church, it should not attempt to publicly present itself as a part of a broader Christian community. Instead it should tell the world openly that those who claim to be orthodox Christians are not really Christians at all, and that the Mormon Church is the only true Christian Church. This in fact is what it teaches privately, but not publicly.
Statements of 5 Christian Denominations on Mormonism
Christian churches teach belief in God as an eternal, self-existent, immortal being, unfettered by corporeal limitations and unchanging in both character and nature. In recent years, several Christian denominations have made studies of Mormon teaching and come to the conclusion that there are irreconcilable differences between LDS doctrine and Christian beliefs based on the Bible.
Statement of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod
Statement of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Statement of the Roman Catholic Church
Statement of the Southern Baptist Convention
Statement of the United Methodist Church
2010 proved to be an interesting year in that this book was removed from the Mormon church re-publishing cycle. Although having several of its "prophets" and eventual "prophets" review -- and approve ensuing revisions of that book (starting with 1966 edition) -- it hit the dust bin in '10!
Still, 2010 saw a thread on this to be one of the Top six (or so) commented upon Lds threads. See: Mormon Doctrine (19582010), RIP.
Another "Top 10 in '10" thread reply-wise was this similar one focusing on the Lds view of God:
LDS View of God contradicts the Bible [976 replies]
For related threads about removal of McConkie's book by the Mormon church, see:
* Mormon Doctrine enjoyed a long, controversial history
* Landmark 'Mormon Doctrine' goes out of print
I believe a few of delacoert's postings around that same time of this thread constituted perhaps two of the most overlooked Lds threads of 2010:
* Contradictions in LDS Doctrines
* DOCTRINAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MORMON DOCTRINE AND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE
Both of these threads had easily readable charts highlighting the distinctions between Christian and Mormon beliefs & doctrine...as does post #2 by greyfoxx39 found at: The Millennium Mormon
Please bookmark these three charts for future reference.
Discussing comparisons of Mormon Doctrine to Christianity was indeed a common 2010 FREEPER theme:
* Mormon (Latter Day Saints) Beliefs Differ From Orthodox Christianity [345 replies]
* Doctrine . . . Not [LDS Atheology] [336 replies]
* The Wacky World of Joseph Smith: And the un-Christianity of Mormon Theology [156 replies]
* A COMPARISON OF MORMON TEACHINGS WITH REAL CHRISTIANITY
Remember, just as you may not know who the players are without a scorecard, you may not know what Mormons mean without a definitional glossary...'cause Lds leaders have redefined countless perfectly good biblical words to suit their fancies through tye years.
See Biblical Glossary: Christian versus Mormon definitions
Please add links to any key "belief distinction"/comparison threads between Mormonism & Christianity posted in 2010 that I've missed.
Ping to post #1 re: mentions...
I was looking for a reason to put the popcorn on. ;-)
Religion is a bureaucracy and is the same within the Catholic church or the Mormon. Anyone that worships the God of the Bible, the Lord of Hosts, the Creator of the Universe, and accepts Yeshua as the Messiah, the begotten Son of God, is a Christian. All of the intricate teachings and dogma is nothing. Come to Christ as a child, believe on him and worship the Father. Anything else is added on.
Here are excerpts from that column, ensued by the commentary I offered in November:
From the commentary written by this Lds columnist: In sacrament meeting last week, the bishop got up and announced he had received a letter from the First Presidency. As he prepared to read it, the congregation perked up. Moments like this are always attention-getters for Mormons. Normally, we get direction from the top during General Conference. Occasionally something cant wait and it comes in the form of an official letter from the brethren telling us to start (or stop) doing something.This is it, my brain hollered as the bishop got ready to read. Were going back to Jackson County. I told you to change the oil in the truck. Cmon, lets go find a map!
From the column: The letter...told/counseled rank-and-file Mormons to stop pestering church headquarters for clarification of church doctrine. Apparently some members get so stressed about the finer points of doctrine that theyll fire off a letter asking for the final word. Church HQ cant handle the demand...According to the First Presidencys letter, members with real doctrinal concerns were to seek the counsel of our local leaders stake president, bishop, Scoutmaster, building custodian, etc.
Ah, the Internet is doing its job. So many questions are being raised by non-Mormons of Mormons, that the answers aren't there. Non-Mormons want answers. Grassroots Mormons are being deluged with such questions; hence, they, in turn seek answers from their authorities.
Yet when non-Mormons ask these same kind of doctrinal questions, what do some online lds apologists do? Why, they send them to lds.org and the First Presidency of the lds church.
Then what happens when the First Presidency of the church gets besieged by these doctrinal questions -- whether they come indirectly through their own members or more directly from inquirers?
Why, the First Presidency sends a Fall, 2010 missive to all their sacrament meetings around the world, telling them to stop sending their doctrinal questions to them because they can't handle most of them!
Ah, the "catch-22" of Mormonism! Ask a question. Get a redirect. Go to the redirected source. They send you back to the local level. Go to the local level. Oh, yeah, Lds keep their doors locked during the week. The bishop works his full-time job PLUS is a "bishop" during his off-hours. So he's "real" available. [/s ]
Kirby is right...maybe you'd be better off asking a Mormon custodian!
You can go back to its beginnings and see how it’s anti-Christian. But say one word to point that out and they holler “ANTI-MORMON” rhetoric. But they can come out and be anti-Christian all they want.
(Better be low on the butter if you’ve eaten the same way I have the past few days :) )
FIRST: MORMONISM REJECTS MANY ESSENTIAL CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES
I suggest you check out the article: We're Christians just like you! wherein the author presents a number of well-annotated examples.
If necessary, dozens of additional articles and illustrations can be found on this WEBSITE alone.
SECOND: THE MORMON CHURCH UNEQUIVOCALLY CONDEMNS CHRISTIANS AND CHRISTIANITY
And the angel of God said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10-11If still not convinced, you can find many more similar quotes of Mormon leaders slamming Christians HERE and HERE.
My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) and which I should join. I was answered by God that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." He again forbade me to join with any of them Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith History 1:18-20
Christianity...is a perfect pack of nonsense...the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century. Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167
The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God. Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:171
Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth." Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:176
Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom. Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 10:127
Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast. Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225
What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing ... Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God. Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 13:225
The Book of Mormon remains secure, unchanged and unchangeable but with the Bible it was not and is not so it was once in the sole and exclusive care and custody of an abominable organization (Christianity), founded by the devil himself, likened prophetically unto a great whore, whose great aim and purpose was to destroy the souls of men in the name of religion. In these hands it ceased to be the book it once was. Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, The Joseph Smith Translation, pp. 12, 13
In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints "do not believe in the traditional Christ."No, I don't. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, LDS Church News, June 20, 1998, p.7
THIRD: THE MORMON CHURCH ITSELF REJECTS CHRISTIANITY
Beginning with Joseph Smith, Mormon prophets have steadfastly proclaimed all Christian denominations were in a state of apostasy.
This raises an interesting question. A heretic is someone who rejects one or more doctrines of religion, but an apostate is someone who has rejected the religion entirely. How is it, exactly, that you can be something you have completely dismissed? How does that work?
Mormonism is a cult.
Pray for the Tea Party Congress
Ask the question that Jesus asked of Peter: “Who do YOU say I am?” An honest answer will resolve the question.
****Yeshua as the Messiah, the begotten Son of God, is a Christian****
10. In Lassa Jesus did not teach. When he finished all his studies in the temple schools he journeyed toward the West. In many villages he tarried for a time and taught.
11. At last he reached the pass, and in the Ladak city, Leh, he was received with favour by the monks, the merchants, and the men of low estate.
12. And in the monastery he abode, and taught; and then he sought the common people in the marts of trade; and there he taught.
13. Not far away a woman lived, whose infant son was sick nigh unto death. The doctors had declared, There is no hope; the child must die.
14. The woman heard that Jesus was a teacher sent from God, and she believed that he had power to heal her son.
15. And so she clasped the dying infant in her arms and ran with haste and asked to see the man of God.
16. When Jesus saw her faith he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said,
17. My Father-God, let power divine o’ershadow me, and let the Holy Breath fill full this child that it may live.
18. And in the presence of the multitude he laid his hand upon the child and said,
19. Good woman you are blest; your faith has saved your son. And then the child was well.
20. The people were astonished and they said, This surely is the Holy One made flesh, for man alone cannot a fever thus and save a child from death.
21. Then many of the people brought their sick, and Jesus spoke the Word, and they were healed.
22. Among the Ladaks Jesus tarried many days; he taught them how to heal; how sins are blotted out, and how to make on earth a heaven of joy.
Trying to get a straight answer from a Mormon is like trying to pick up mercury with rubber gloves on.
Why is this so important to some people and why does it cause so much animosity?
What they don’t preach is “Kill all the christians and jews” like the muzzies do...
The destiny of ones soul hangs in the balance.
Most of them are perfectly fine people with nice moral values but they are not Christian. Christians don’t believe in a book written by a known 19th century conman who had a multitude of wives as young as 14. Sad that so many have been deluded into thinking that his message is compatible with Christianity.
They got a great choir and are typically very nice people and make for wonderful neighbors. Not one has ever told me that orthodox Christianity is an abomination or whoredom. That may be written in the discourses, but your everyday Mormon does not spread such venom, and I doubt they even know about it.
What are the fruits that Mormons bear? Good fruit or bad? That is the real question. At least for me anyway. Its great to be aware of erroneous teaching, and to make others aware, but if a bunch of mormons moved into my neighborhood I would thank them profusely for improving my home value.
Galatians 1:8 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 Gods curse!
Pretty straightforward to me.
The Torah explains who the Messiah is and what he would teach. The NT is the story of his Apostles as they interacted with him and what they were told to tell of him. The golden tablets on American soil that disappeared.....ppppppppppplllllllll. That is religious dogma. It adds to the word and detracts by doing so. Some of the Catholic cathecism does so also. That is one reason so many reject religion, but worship God and believe in the sacrifice of Jesus.
Sometimes the truth hurts and the tears come later. All my prayers go out to you.
Well, as you may know, even perfectly fine -- horizontally that is -- externally identified Christians won't become heaven-based based upon their level of "fineness."
The more I think about it, I think that's actually what bothers a few non-Mormon allies who come on board these threads.
I think a few of them think, "hey, if the external morality of the Mormons isn't good enough for heaven, where does that leave me?" And so, they temporarily align with the Mormons on these threads vs. those who are perceived to attack the premise that God gives out heaven on the basis of a sort-of "grade system" -- like it was morality school or somethin'.
The problem is...it's all pass-fail. Either we get there on Christ's righteousness -- and His alone -- or we don't get there. James says if we break one part of the law, we're guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10).
Either Christ and trusting in His perfection is our righteousness, or, we try to establish it on our own.
That...is Mormon heresy...and yet it's Biblical teaching through and through.
Whatever righteousness we display is part of the fruit of the Spirit -- and any other qualities He transmits through us.
He gets the glory in living in us as His temple.
The main temple emphasis in Mormonism is a man-made facility that will one day be destroyed without hope of resurrection.
Christians beware there will be many whom claim they are of Christ, but they have false teachings and false teachers. they will cast into an eternal fire and be damned for entirety.
Be like the Bereans and read the scripture so you can be knowledgeable of others whom strive to teach diverse teachings.
By looking at the Bible and historic christianity, you can see clearly that Mormonism is a false church. It has nothing to do with Christianity.
Compare Mormonism or Church of the Latter Saints as it strive to call itself to that of the democrats and Progressives. Strive to make themselves seem like something entirely good and beneficial, when in fact they are evil, corrupt and detrimental to the well being of those around them.
but your everyday Mormon does not spread such venom, and I doubt they even know about it.”
- - - - - -
If you think that then you are way wrong. They know it, they tell each other about it, they brag about it in ‘the church’ and then they lie to the faces of ‘gentiles’ (all non Mormons - even Jews) in order to be accepted.
How do I know? Because I used to be one. Then God saved me.
“Why dont you know go after Muslims??”
Kevin, it’s like this. Folks who obsess about Mormons when there are better things to do are basically deranged. That’s it in a nutshell.
BTW I didn’t name names, see, so my statement isn’t making it personal. I can’t help if some deranged person takes it personally, though. :-)
They don't drive down the left side of the road, like the Limeys do, either.
I'm sure you may have a point, but it wasn't explained too well.
You know, I tire of these liberal tactics by posters like yourself.
Colorado voters in the 90s simply didn't want civil rights protections extended to homosexuals. The black-robed rogues of the Supreme Court overturned it about a decade after that, claiming that Colorado voters showed "animus" toward homosexuals and lesbians.
For one of the first times in our Free Republic, voters were disallowed to think in a certain way when they voted. It became, in effect, a "thought crime" to vote with certain motivations -- as if these black-robed rogues could discern Colorado voters' motivations at such a distance & lump them together to begin with!
You display this same sort of internal judgmentalism with such a simple question.
Then, once the gay activist community realized they had a court precedent of your "animus" angle, what have they done with it?
They've been tossing it up for the past year and a half trying to use it vs. Prop 8 -- something many Mormon citizens opposed with their $ and voice!
All you continue to do is to reinforce liberal logic...
(I certainly won't say it, but I'm sure some people could tell you where to stick that animus!)
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.
It does NOT just say 'study'; but do so to make yourself APPROVED unto GOD.
No; YOU are the reason you don't go to church!
YOU are SO much better than everyone else.
I believe in God and Jesus, but I refuse to hang around people like you..
And yet those that we would consider as intelligent (Glen Beck as an example) keep falling for this BS. Of course, as a Protestant, I believe he moved from one cult to another. But that is just me. ;-)
But you ain't GOD.
What does HE require?
"What does it profit a man..."
Also, the BYU Cougars are one of the dirtiest football teams I've ever seen. They grab, hold, bite, whatever, and get away with it because the referees refuse to believe a bunch of "nice Mormon boys" would play dirty.
Finally, I know several Mormon couples who've divorced, showing they're no different from anybody else (sadly including Evangelical Christians).
There are plenty of good arguments backed by facts 0n this thread. My post is more emotional, but I still believe in it.
Mormon Missionary Rules
The Mormon Scriptures teach that the purpose of life is a test to see if we will do everything that God commands us to (Abraham 3:25). Once we get pretty advanced in the game God might push the envelope on this and command us to do something totally bizarre and immoral such as killing our children (Genesis 22:2), but most of us never reach that level.
The Mormon missionary is given innumerable opportunities every day to show God that he will obey. The missionary's life is defined by rules. The rules dictate who he will be with, what he does with each hour of the week, which books he may read, and that he won't receive information about the world through radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, or the Internet. And he is assigned a vigilante to follow him around 24-7 to make sure he obeys. A church video about missionary life has a scene depicting a missionary reading the newspaper. That missionary was breaking the rules.
Last night, my wife saw me reading the Missionary Guide. It brought back all sorts of nasty memories from her mission and she said I must be a masochist for reading it. I laughed at that, but now I'm wondering if she had a point--just thinking about the mission rules is painful to me. As a missionary, I felt that the mission, God's church, and ultimately God himself despised individuality and freedom. My efforts to obey the mission rules resulted in immeasurable amounts of emotional and physical pain. I have had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was a child, and it was impossible to take care of my body and obey the missionary rules. So, I tortured my body throughout my mission, and abused it to the point where I literally couldn't stand, much less walk.
The mission rules caused my body permanent damage, and did serious damage to my emotional health--I've been home for over 10 years and apparently I still haven't completely recovered.
The above are the rules from The Missionary Handbook (commonly known as the "White Bible"). It is a little booklet that the missionaries carry in their shirt pocket. There are many rules the missionary is subjected to that aren't in the White Bible, but these are the basics. I am frequently asked if I am serious about these rules. The answer is yes. A few parenthetical comments have been added.
As you think about these rules, it is worth also considering psychologist Steven Hassan's BITE model. Hassan asserts that if a group passes a certain threshold of manipulating its members behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and access to information, the group is rightly categorized as a cult and is exercising destructive mind control. You can read about his model here. You may decide for yourself if such manipulation exists, if it is harmful, and whether or not the Mormon missionary experience is a good example of this phenomenon. Here is a site that brings the BITE model to bear on the Mormon missionary program.
(From --> http://www.lds4u.com/Missionaries/rules.htm )
No, I don’t have “a holier than thou” attitude. When a group of people go around blasting my Lord I will damn well stand up and say something about it. I don’t know what God or Jesus you believe in but you do have a serious problem my friend.
If you peruse the Free Republic religion forums you will notice a pattern. There's an anti-Mormon group of people here that spends a great deal of their time attacking the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They post regurgitated propaganda on an almost daily basis.
They have a misguided obsession. You can witness many different tactics employed that you might find quite interesting. The straw man argument is a big favorite and is frequently preceded by cherry-picking quotes or other material. After the "quotation" the attacker will misrepresent what has been said or what was meant and then attack their own interpretation.Later they will have the audacity to claim they were "only" quoting our own material.
They will of course insist ad nauseum that they are merely using our sources and are therefore innocent of any deceptive practice. LDS persons have no issue whatsoever having our scriptures or leaders quoted as long as it is presented fairly and accurately. This is rarely (if ever) done.
Another favorite is posting scripture or statements which on their own really present no dilemma. They make something out of nothing while never bringing up a single objection that hasn't been addressed a hundred times before.
You might note a couple of other tactics used to try to antagonize is the use of disrespectful or insulting terms or language and/or pictures. That's a Christlike thing to do right? Yeah I don't think so either. It does speak volumes about them though.
Some of them claim being some sort of special witness to you as being supposedly former Mormons. So someone who is an ex-member of any organization would never have an axe to grind or have reason to try to justify their actions by any means? Perhaps not but perhaps so. The LDS Church gains members from other denominations as well as others faiths all the time. This doesn't make them an expert on anything and you certainly won't hear them attacking their forner Church.
Frequently they cruise the headlines of the day seeking any story that might be twisted into making the Church look bad. Anything will do, just watch the progression of posts following it and see what I mean.
After reading their posts, I invite you to seek the truth about whatever "issue" they seem to be "revealing" or "exposing". I promise that if you do so with honest intent, the "ahah" moments you will have will be many and frequent. You will start to recognize the tactics employed to cleverly twist and attack and will likely chuckle the more you see. In actuality, there's nothing new here. It's all been addressed many times before.
The latest twist in the anti-Mormon propaganda machine is to actually go to the links provided, but then they cherry pick what they want, then quote and straw man attack that. Clever. It almost appears that they are helping you, the seeker of truth out by doing some footwork for you. Not so much. Don't be insulted, look for yourself. It's not the haystack they want you to think.
Here's a few links to get your started from a different viewpoint. I have found that the vast majority of the "issues" brought up can be found and addressed at http://www.fairlds.org/ but here's more:
Now you will likely notice the "you never address or answer our points" posts pop up as usual. All after providing the answers just as you have here.
Sometimes it is claimed that these sites present a needle in a haystack. Far from it. But if you give up before you try you won't know will you? They often state that these sites provide no answer. They just don't want you looking. It is as simple as that.
Will you wear blinders too? Seek truth. Find out for yourself. Want to chat with someone on any topic? A few of these sites provide just that. So do your homework sincere seeker of truth. Listen and read from both "sides". Make up your own mind.
I witness to you of these truths and wish you the best, in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Ad astra is a Latin phrase meaning "to the stars". The phrase has origins with Virgil, who wrote sic itur ad astra ("thus you shall go to the stars," from Aeneid book IX, line 641, spoken by Apollo to Aeneas' young son Iulus) and opta ardua pennis astra sequi, ("desire to follow the high (or hard to reach) stars on wings" book XII, lines 892893, spoken by Aeneas to his foe Turnus in their combat). Another origin is Seneca the Younger, who wrote non est ad astra mollis e terris via ("there is no easy way from the earth to the stars," Hercules Furens, line 437, spoken by Megara, Hercules' wife).
Are you saying that if I make friends with Mormons and enjoy the benefits they might bring to a neighborhood I will “gain the world and lose my soul”?
Its hard to believe the replies I am getting just for liking Mormons....wow!
Nice Oprah Americanism there...to whittle down "fruits" by defining it only economically!
Did it ever dawn on you that the real estate of heaven just might prove to be a tad more important than the value of your neighborhood real estate?
Not one has ever told me that orthodox Christianity is an abomination or whoredom. That may be written in the discourses, but your everyday Mormon does not spread such venom, and I doubt they even know about it.
Yeah, we know
-- The typical Lds philosophy we hear:
"Speak softly and carry a big Pearl of Great Price stick"...
...And for your info, both the Pearl of Great Price and the Book of Mormon -- specifically 1 Nephi -- both which indeed points to Christians as part of that "whoredom" of which you speak...
...Is hardly tucked away in some "Journal of Discourses" somewhere.
Those are Mormon "scriptures" which they are replicating by the millions in hundreds of languages as you sleep. And what? Do you think these things print themselves? Or could it be that the Mormon wallet of your neighbors pay for these things?
Oh, & definition of a 'big Pearl of Great Price stick':
"You Christian sects are 100% wrong;
100% creedally putrid;
100% corrupt as believers...
...Signed: Cordially, your "nice" Mormon neighbor
P.S. "Of course, we'll be polite & use Lds missionary doorstep language like 'universal apostasy' instead of pointing our fingers right @ you..."
"...and we'll fund the outer darkness out of hundreds of different Pearl of Great Price translations which mention ALL of the above...so our 'big stick' will seem once-removed..."
"...But make no mistake about it, we've sent out literally over 1 million Lds missionaries who've carried this 'Big Stick' around the world!!!"
...I doubt they even know about it.
Hey, be careful in your open export of such ignorance.
The statements I made above re: the Mormon references to ALL Christians as "corrupt..." ...ALL creeds as an "abomination..." etc. comes from the very foundation of the Mormon faith -- the so-called "First Vision" of Joseph Smith, which every Mormon of a certain age knows. Google it yourself: "Joseph Smith History" + "Pearl of Great Price"...read verses 18-20.
Is Mormonism Christian?
Absolutely. Thanks much!
“The Torah explains who the Messiah is and what he would teach.”
I think that was part of his point. The problem is in you previous post you said “Anyone that worships the God of the Bible, the Lord of Hosts, the Creator of the Universe, and accepts Yeshua as the Messiah, the begotten Son of God, is a Christian.” The problem is the Mormons would say they do, and from you’re original post I would have guessed you agreed with them.
He was pointing out that you need to be a bit more discerning than that. While your statement is true, it doesn’t help clarify the answer to the main question of this thread because many groups will redifine ther terms.
The point of his post is that their Jesus (or Yeshua, if you prefer) is not the same Jesus of the New Testament. Sometimes the details matter.
This is the most objective, scholarly, and definitive treatise on the subject. It requires a careful and dispassionate read:
Is Mormonism Christian? A Respected Advocate for Interreligious Cooperation Responds
Copyright © 2000 Richard John Neuhaus. All rights reserved. Used with permission..
That is not the only interesting question, but it is probably the most important. Most non-Mormons have little occasion to think about Mormonism, and those who do tend toward distinctly negative thoughts. Although there is this curious thing of recent years that many conservative Christians warmly welcome Mormons as allies in various cultural tasks. To cite but one recent instance, it was an alliance of Catholics, evangelicals, and Mormons that was instrumental in persuading the people of Hawaii to reject same-sex marriage. Yet a few issues ago we published an article by a Mormon doctor presenting the case for Natural Family Planning and received blistering letters of protest.
We thought that the fact that the argument was not being advanced by a Catholic might make it more persuasive to some. But at least some readers did not see it that way. Didnt we know that Mormons are the enemies of Christ and his Church? Such views are stronger in the Northwest and, increasingly, in the Southwest where the Mormon presence is a force to be reckoned with.
“For missionary and public relations purposes, the LDS may present Mormonism as an ‘add-on,’ a kind of Christianity-plus, but that is not the official narrative and doctrine.”
Ours is an interreligious enterprise, basically but not exclusively Jewish and Christian. Dr. Bruce Hafen is on our Editorial Advisory Board. He has held prominent positions in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), including that of provost and dean of the law school at Brigham Young University. I cant say that many of my friends are Mormons, but some are.
We are obliged to respect human dignity across the board, and to affirm common discernments of the truth wherever we find them. Where we disagree we should try to put the best possible construction on the position of the other, while never trimming the truth. That will become more important as Mormons become more of a presence, both in this country and the world.
There are about ten million of them now, with about one-half of the membership in the U.S. Sociologist Rodney Stark a non-Mormon with strong personal connections to the LDS predicts that, on the basis of present growth patterns, there will be more than 265 million Mormons by the end of this century, making it the most important new religion in world history since Islam. For reasons I will come to, I think that is improbable. Put differently, if that happens, Mormonism will be something dramatically different from what it has been over the last century and a half.
Some while back we were sent for review the Encyclopedia of Mormonism: The History, Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its a big five-volume set, written largely by professors at Brigham Young; we werent sure what to do with it, but Ive been reading in it with great benefit. Then comes a big new book by Richard N. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, published by HarperSanFrancisco (454 pp., $26). It is a remarkable piece of work and likely to be the best general introduction to Mormonism for years to come.
The Ostlings are evangelical Protestants. Dick was for many years religion editor at Time and now covers religion for the Associated Press. I have had frequent occasion to say that he is one of the two or three best religion reporters in the country. Joan is a freelance writer with a background in the practice and teaching of journalism. What they have achieved with this assiduously researched and very readable book puts us all in their debt. Apparently the powers that be in Salt Lake City are ambivalent about the book, but it is probably as thorough and fair a treatment of the LDS by outsiders as they are likely to get.
Much to Admire
The Ostlings find much to admire. Mormonism gives a whole new meaning to being “pro-family.” In Mormon belief, families are, quite literally, forever. Proxies are baptized on behalf of the dead, and families and relatives hope to go on living together and procreating in a celestial eternity. All children are baptized at age eight, and at twelve boys (no girls allowed) take their place of responsibility and status by entering the first level of the priesthood the priesthood, according to Joseph Smith, having been restored by John the Baptist in upstate New York in 1829.
While bar mitzvah among Jews and confirmation among Christians too often means that young people graduate from their religious responsibilities, Mormon youth at that point in life graduate into intense and clearly defined responsibilities within the community. Also widely and justly admired is the LDS welfare system, whereby the community takes care of its own when they get into economic or other difficulty. At present, in a time of economic prosperity, only about 5 percent require help from the welfare system. (A figure, interestingly, about parallel with Edward Banfields famous claim about the percentage of people in any society who will never be able to make it on their own.)
There is no denying that the prohibition of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine has a payoff. Mormons live; on average, eight to eleven years longer than other Americans, and death rates from cancer and cardiovascular diseases are about half those of the general population. Of course, it is fair to note, they do die of other things, and one may do ones own calculation about the risk worth taking for a scotch before dinner and a cigar afterward, never mind ones morning coffee. (The most recent Harvard longitudinal study found that the strongest positive correlation between health and habits is the daily consumption of about three ounces of wine or liquor. Go figure.)
In addition, a strong emphasis on chastity sharply reduces sexually transmitted diseases, while a tightly knit and supportive community makes homicide and suicide rare. Put it all together, and one concludes that Mormonism is good for your physical health. Whether it is good for your spiritual health is a disputed question. (It should also be noted that medical data on the strongly committed in other religious communities are comparable to the Mormon findings.)
There are other things to admire. Brigham Young University, for instance, where, because of church subsidies, young Mormons get the entire package (tuition, room, board, etc.) for less than $10,000 a year. The ticket is slightly more for non-Mormons, but there are very few takers. There is also the Church Educational System, which involves hundreds of thousands in continuing education programs here and around the world. Nor can the most severe critics deny the energy, enthusiasm, and organization of the LDS in its missionary zeal, and in its dramatic presentation of its colorful history, whether through the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or annual pageants reenacting the key episodes of its sacred stories.
In a world that seems to be largely adrift, it is no little thing to be part of an organized crusade in which you and those who are closest to you view your life as crucial to the unfolding of the cosmic drama.
Restoring the Church
The LDS is, among other things, a very big business tightly controlled from the top down. If one believes that the entire enterprise is based on revelation that is authoritatively interpreted by divinely appointed officers, it makes sense that control should be from the top down. The LDS claims that God chose Joseph Smith to reestablish the Church of Jesus Christ after it had disappeared some 1,700 years earlier following the death of the first apostles. To complicate the picture somewhat, Gods biblical work was extended to the Americas somewhere around 2000 B.C. and continued here until A.D. 421. This is according to the Book of Mormon, the scriptures given to Joseph Smith on golden tablets by the Angel Moroni. American Indians are called Lamanites and are part of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
Jesus came to preach to these Indians and for a long time there was a flourishing church here until it fell into apostasy, only to be restored, as the golden tablets foretold, by Joseph Smith. In addition to giving new scriptures, God commissioned Smith to revise the Bible, the text of which had been corrupted over the centuries by Jews and Christians.
Todays Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is, allegedly, in direct succession to Smith, and the First Presidency claims powers that would have made St. Peter, never mind most of his successors, blush. The top leadership is composed, with few exceptions, of men experienced in business and with no formal training in theology or related disciplines.
The President (who is also a prophet, seer, and revelator) is the oldest apostle, which means he is sometimes very old indeed and far beyond his prime. Decisions are made in the tightest secrecy, inevitably giving rise to suspicions and conspiracy theories among outsiders and a substantial number of members. Revenues from tithes, investments, and Mormon enterprises have built what the Ostlings say “might be the most efficient churchly money machine on earth.” They back up with carefully detailed research their “conservative” estimate that LDS assets are in the range of $25-30 billion.
Protecting the Stories
But, of course, the most important control is over the sacred stories, and attendant truth claims, upon which the entire enterprise rests. Of the telling of history, Orwell wrote, “He who controls the past controls the future and he who controls the present controls the past.” The Ostlings devote a great deal of attention to “dissenters and exiles” who have tried to tell the sacred stories honestly, and in a manner that might bring them into conversation with other stories of the world. Some may think the Ostlings devote too much attention to these “troublemakers,” but I think not.
In my limited experience with, for instance, people associated with the publication Sunstone, these are devout Mormons who are seized by the correct intuition that truth that must be protected within the circle of true believers, that cannot intelligently engage critical examination by outsiders, is in some fundamental sense doubtfully true. Some of the “dissenters and exiles” may be dismissable as troublemakers a species all too familiar in other religious communities as well. I expect, however, that what most of these people are trying to do is much more important to the possible futures of the LDS than all the billions in assets, massive building programs, and ambitiously organized missionary campaigns combined.
To give a credible account of the sacred stories and truth claims is no easy task. Not to put too fine a point on it, the founding stories and doctrines of Mormonism appear to the outsider as a bizarre phantasmagoria of fevered religious imagination not untouched by perverse genius. Germinated in the “burnt-over district” of upstate New York in the early nineteenth century, where new religions and spiritualities produced a veritable rainforest of novel revelations, the claims of Joseph Smith represent a particularly startling twist of the kaleidoscope of religious possibilities.
In 1831, Alexander Campbell, cofounder of the Disciples of Christ, said that Smith pasted together “every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years.” Much of the teaching reflects the liberal Protestantism of the time, even the Transcendental and Gnostic fevers that were in the air: e.g., a God in process of becoming, progressive revelation, the denial of original sin, and an unbridled optimism about the perfectibility of man. Mix that in with the discovery of golden tablets written in a mysterious language, the bodily appearance of God the Father and Son, angelic apparitions, and a liberal dose of Masonic ritual and jargon, and the result is, quite simply, fantastic. The question, of course, is whether it is true.
In what sense true? It is true in the sense that it is meaningful for those who believe it uncritically, and even for more critical souls who embrace the community whose fabulous founding, they contend, points to higher truths. In the conventional version controlled by LDS authorities, it is true if you believe it is true. Thus is the back door shut against potentially subversive reason. One possible response is to say that all religion is finally based on faith and is incapable of rational demonstration. Did not St. Paul say that the gospel of Christ is “foolishness” according to the wisdom of the world? Of course he did.
But every part of the traditional Christian story has been and is subjected to critical examination, by believers and nonbelievers alike and that examination, with its attending disagreements, will go on to the end of time. Over two thousand years, from Origen and Augustine through Anselm, Aquinas, Newman, Barth, and Balthasar, the truth claims of Christianity have engaged, with utmost intensity and sophistication, alternative and opposing construals of reality. In short, there is a very long Christian intellectual tradition. There is not, or at least not until very recently, such a Mormon tradition. And those who are interested in encouraging such inquiry typically find themselves in the company of “dissenters and exiles.” Keep in mind, however, that Mormonism is not yet two centuries old. A youngish Mormon intellectual today is in relation of time to Joseph Smith roughly comparable to Origen in relation to the apostles.
But his task is ever so much more difficult than that of Irenaeus, Origen, and the many other early Christian thinkers. There is, for instance, the surpassingly awkward fact that not a single person, place, or event that is unique to the Book of Mormon has ever been proven to exist.
Outside the fanum of true believers, these tales cannot help but appear to be the product of fantasy and fabrication. There is, moreover, a corrosive tradition of make-believe in the LDS, such as the claim that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham a book he said was written by Abraham from Egyptian papyri that were later proven to be nothing but conventional funerary inscriptions.
The sanitized story of Mormonism promoted by the LDS tries to hide so much that cannot be hidden. The Ostlings are to be commended for resisting sensationalism in relating the sensational history of polygamy in the LDS, including Joseph Smiths coercive use of threats of eternal damnation in order to procure young women he desired as additional wives. (On this score, the quasi-official Encyclopedia is also considerably more candid than the usual LDS presentations.)
And how, except by a practiced schizophrenia, can LDS biblical scholars engage with other scholars if they are required to give credence to the normative status of Smiths “translation” (i.e., rewriting) of the King James Bible? There is a long list of particulars in the formidable obstacles to be overcome if anything like a credible intellectual tradition is to be secured, and not least among the obstacles is the history of LDS leadership in backstopping secretiveness with mendacity. Taking note of these realities is not to deny the frequent moral courage, indeed heroism, of the early leadership, or the continuing devotion and talent of their successors.
The LDS is much given to boosterism, and it is no surprise that its leaders relish the projections of almost exponential growth offered by such as Rodney Stark. Nobody can help but be impressed by the thousands of clean-cut Mormon young men who go on mission, two by two, knocking on the doors of the world, but the Ostlings helpfully put this missionary enterprise into perspective by comparing it with the many times larger enterprise of various Christian groups, noting as well that, unlike the Mormons, these missionaries do not limit themselves to winning converts but minister to the illiterate, the poor, and others in need.
Moreover, these Christian efforts result in large and thriving indigenous churches that engage and transform local cultures, whereas the Mormon mission, totally controlled and directed from Salt Lake City, is about as pure an instance of American cultural imperialism as can be imagined, albeit a benevolently intended imperialism.
It appears also that the figures of Mormon growth are considerably inflated, not taking into account the massive defections through the back door, especially in developing countries. The Ostlings observe, “Mormonism succeeds by building on a preexisting Christian culture and by being seen as an add-on, drawing converts through a form of syncretism. Mormonism flourishes best in settings with some prior Christianization.” There is, in this view, a parasitic dynamic in Mormon growth.
Yet the Ostlings suggest that, despite doctrinal and demographic problems, Mormonism may continue to thrive. “Ours is a relational era,” they write, “not a conceptual one. Members are more likely to be attracted by networking and community than by truth claims. The adherents appear to be contented or docile in their discontent, except for some thousands of intellectuals.” I am not so sure, and that brings us to the opening question of whether
Mormonism is Christian or a new religion tenuously founded on fables and sustained by authoritarian management. Maybe ours is a time in which truth does not matter that much in terms of institutional flourishing, a time in which communities can get along with useful, if not particularly noble, lies. But we should not too easily resign ourselves to that conclusion.
An Insulting Question
Asking whether Mormonism is Christian or Mormons are Christians (a slightly different question) is thought to be insulting. “How can you ask that,” protests a Mormon friend, “when we clearly love the Lord Jesus as much as we do?” It is true that St. Paul says that nobody can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). But that only indicates that aspects of Mormon faith are touched by the Holy Spirit, as is every element of truth no matter where it is found.
A Mormon academic declares that asking our question “is a bit like asking if African Americans are human.” No, it is not even a bit like that. “Christian” in this context is not honorific but descriptive. Nobody questions whether Mormons are human. To say that Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists are not Christians is no insult. It is a statement of fact, indeed of respect for their difference. The question is whether that is a fact and a difference that applies also to Mormonism.
The question as asked by Mormons is turned around: are non-Mormons who claim to be Christians in fact so? The emphatic and repeated answer of the Mormon scriptures and the official teaching of the LDS is that we are not. We are members of “the great and abominable church” that was built by frauds and imposters after the death of the first apostles.
The true church and true Christianity simply went out of existence, except for its American Indian interlude, until it was rediscovered and reestablished by Joseph Smith in upstate New York, and its claims will be vindicated when Jesus returns, sooner rather than later, at a prophetically specified intersection in Jackson County, Missouri.
The Ostlings, in a manner common among evangelical Protestants, address the question of whether Mormons are Christians exclusively in terms of doctrine. Mormonism claims that God is an exalted man, not different in kind as Creator is different in kind from creature. The Mormon claim is, “What God was, we are. What God is, we will become.” Related to this is the teaching that the world was not created ex nihilo but organized into its present form, and that the trespass in the Garden of Eden, far from being the source of original sin, was a step toward becoming what God is.
Further, Mormonism teaches that there is a plurality of gods. Mormons dislike the term “polytheism,” preferring “henotheism,” meaning that there is a head God who is worshiped as supreme. If Christian doctrine is summarized in, for instance, the Apostles Creed as understood by historic Christianity, official LDS teaching adds to the creed, deviates from it, or starkly opposes it almost article by article.
LDS teaching that believers are on the way to becoming gods has, of course, interesting connections with early church fathers and their teaching on “theosis” or “deification,” a teaching traditionally accented more in the Christianity of the East than of the West, but theologically affirmed by both. Some Mormon thinkers have picked up on those connections and have even recruited, not very convincingly, C. S. Lewis in support of LDS doctrine. (Lewis simply offers rhetorical riffs on classical Christian teaching and in no way suggests an ontological equivalence between Creator and creature.)
Christianity and the History of Christians
Beyond these doctrinal matters, as inestimably important as they are, one must ask what it means to be Christian if one rejects the two thousand year history of what in fact is Christianity. Christianity is inescapably doctrinal but it is more than doctrines. Were it only a set of doctrines, Christianity would have become another school of philosophy, much like other philosophical schools of the Greco-Roman world. Christianity is the past and present reality of the society composed of the Christian people. As is said in the Nicene Creed, “We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” That reality encompasses doctrine, ministry, liturgy, and a rule of life. Christians disagree about precisely where that Church is to be located historically and at present, but almost all agree that it is to be identified with the Great Tradition defined by the apostolic era through at least the first four ecumenical councils, and continuing in diverse forms to the present day. That is the Christianity that LDS teaching rejects and condemns as an abomination and fraud.
Yet Mormonism is inexplicable apart from Christianity and the peculiar permutations of Protestant Christianity in nineteenth-century America. It may in this sense be viewed as a Christian derivative. It might be called a Christian heresy, except heresy is typically a deviation within the story of the Great Tradition that Mormonism rejects tout court. Or Mormonism may be viewed as a Christian apostasy.
Before his death in 1844, Joseph Smith was faced with many apostasies within the Mormon ranks, and since then there have been more than a hundred schisms among those who claim to be his true heirs. Still today LDS leaders quote Smith when censuring or excommunicating critics. For instance, this from Smith: “That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that man is in the high road to apostasy.”
With respect to the real existing Christianity that is the Church, the words apply in spades to Joseph Smith. He knew, of course, that he was rejecting the Christianity of normative tradition, and he had an explanation. On the creation ex nihilo question, for instance, he declared only weeks before his death: “If you tell [critics] that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow; and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him.”
By definition, he could not be apostate because he spoke for God. It is an answer, of sorts.
The history of Christianity, notably since the sixteenth-century Reformation, is littered with prophets and seers who have reestablished “the true church,” usually in opposition to the allegedly false church of Rome, and then, later, in opposition to their own previously true churches. There are many thousands of such Christian groups today. Most of them claim to represent the true interpretation of the Bible. A smaller number lay claim to additional revelations by which the biblical witness must be “corrected.” One thinks, for instance, of the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
There are other similarities between Mormonism and the Unification Church, such as the emphasis on the celestial significance of marriage and family. According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Gods and humans are the same species of being, but at different stages of development in a divine continuum, and the heavenly Father and Mother are the heavenly pattern, model, and example of what mortals can become through obedience to the gospel.”
Some have suggested that the LDS is a Christian derivative much as Christianity is a Jewish derivative, but that is surely wrong. The claim of Christianity is that its gospel of Jesus Christ is in thorough continuity with the Old Testament and historic Israel, that the Church is the New Israel, which means that it is the fulfillment of the promise that Israel would be “a light to the nations.” The Church condemned Marcions rejection of the Old Testament, and she never presumed to rewrite or correct the Hebrew Scriptures on the basis of a new revelation.
On the contrary, she insisted that the entirety of the old covenant bears witness to the new. While it is a Christian derivative, the LDS is, by way of sharpest contrast, in radical discontinuity with historical Christianity. The sacred stories and official teachings of the LDS could hardly be clearer about that. For missionary and public relations purposes, the LDS may present Mormonism as an “add-on,” a kind of Christianity-plus, but that is not the official narrative and doctrine.
A closer parallel might be with Islam. Islam is a derivative of Judaism, and Christianity. Like Joseph Smith, Muhammad in the seventh century claimed new revelations and produced in the Quran a “corrected” version of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, presumably by divine dictation. Few dispute that Islam is a new and another religion, and Muslims do not claim to be Christian, although they profess a deep devotion to Jesus. Like Joseph Smith and his followers, they do claim to be the true children of Abraham.
Christians in dialogue with Islam understand it to be an interreligious, not an ecumenical, dialogue. Ecumenical dialogue is dialogue between Christians. Dialogue with Mormons who represent official LDS teaching is interreligious dialogue.
One must again keep in mind that Mormonism is still very young. It is only now beginning to develop an intellectually serious theological tradition. Over the next century and more, those who are now the “dissidents and exiles” may become the leaders in the forging, despite the formidable obstacles, a rapprochement with historic Christianity, at which point the dialogue could become ecumenical. As noted earlier, there is the interesting phenomenon of Mormon thinkers appealing to the Christian tradition, from Irenaeus through C. S. Lewis, in support of aspects of their doctrine.
And there is the poignant and persistent insistence of Mormons, “We really are Christians!” Sometimes that claim means that they really are Christians and the rest of us are not. Increasingly, at least among some Mormons, the claim is that they are Christians in substantively the same way that others are Christians.
It is a claim we should question but not scorn. Such a claim contains, just possibly, the seed of promise that over time, probably a very long time, there could be within Mormonism a development of doctrine that would make it recognizable as a peculiar but definite Christian communion. Such attempted development, however, could produce a major schism between Mormons who are determined to be Christian, on the one hand, and the new religion taught by the LDS on the other.
Meanwhile, Mormonism and the impressive empire of the LDS will likely be with us for a long time. They are no longer an exotic minority that is, by virtue of minority status, exempt from critical examination and challenge. Such examination and challenge, always fair-minded and sympathetic, is exemplified by the Ostlings very helpful book, Mormon America. I am skeptical about the more dramatic projections of Mormon growth in the future. That depends in part on the degree to which the Ostlings are right in thinking our era is “relational” rather than “conceptual.”
It depends in larger part on developments internal to the LDS and transformations in its self-understanding and self-presentation to the world. The leadership of the LDS will have to decide whether its growth potential is enhanced or hampered by presenting Mormonism as a new religion or as, so to speak, another Christian denomination. Sometimes they seem to want to have it both ways, but that will become increasingly difficult. And, of course, for Mormons whose controlling concern is spiritual, intellectual, and moral integrity, questions of marketing and growth, as well as questions of institutional vitality and communal belonging, must be clearly subordinated to the question of truth.
As for the rest of us, we owe to Mormon Americans respect for their human dignity, protection of their religious freedom, readiness for friendship, openness to honest dialogue, and an eagerness to join hands in social and cultural tasks that advance the common good. That, perhaps, is work enough, at least for the time being.
Oh brother.....this is ridiculous.
Yes, Mormonism is theological error, yes I like most of them anyway just as I like some Atheists, Pantheists, agnostics and even a new ager or two. Sheeeesh.......LOL!
Did I mention they got a great choir, or should I not listen to the MTC either? Is it demon music brought from the depths of hell?