The other day while reading the front page of lds.org I came upon an interesting article. On the sidebar the Church asked the question; “Are Mormons Christian?” and of course this caught my immediate attention!
Every Christian ministry for Mormons has explored this topic, LAM included, but we believe it’s important to keep abreast with the Church’s newest tactics so we’re taking a look at their latest explanation of why they believe they’re Christians.
As always I’m taking it line by line and giving a biblical response to their article – my response will be in red. And for the record, I choose to answer in red because it’s a personal reminder to me that Jesus’ blood is the reason I am saved!
“Are Mormons Christian?
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians. They worship God the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ. When asked what the Latter-day Saints believe, Joseph Smith put Christ at the center: “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.”1 The modern-day Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reaffirmed that testimony when they proclaimed, “Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. … His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.”2”
It’s true the Church does say they worship God in the name of Jesus, but the issue is which Jesus and which God are you referring to? Clearly, the God and Jesus of Mormonism are not the God and Jesus of Christianity! Jesus in Mormonism is a created son who came into existence through a sexual union of an exalted man who became a god and one of his goddess wives – Journal of Discourses 1:51, Brigham Young.
The fact is that Mormons don’t accept what the apostles attested to in the Bible because they don’t believe the Bible has been translated correctly (See Article of Faith 8). Because of Smith’s disregard and mistrust for the word of God he took the liberty to rewrite it, thus their use of the JST (Joseph Smith Translation). See our article Why Joseph Smith Hated the Word of God for more info.
Thirdly, there isn’t one single verse in the Bible that says Jesus’ path leads to happiness in this life! Yes, Jesus told people to take His yoke upon themselves for it is light – Matthew 11:28-30, but this refers to the Holy Spirit who will supernaturally bring us comfort during difficult times and our lives reflecting a change in us – Galatians 5:22-23. The authors of the New Testament certainly didn’t paint a picture of total happiness in this life when we become Christians!
They spoke of persecution and hardships that would ensue because of that lifestyle, but they did say following the Lord will ensure us of peace because God takes up residence inside the believer.
“In recent decades, however, some have claimed that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a Christian church. The most oft-used reasons are the following:
Latter-day Saints do not accept the creeds, confessions, and formulations of post–New Testament Christianity.”
Actually it’s been a lot longer than “in recent decades”. The controversy has been around since Smith claimed the entire body of Christ is the whore of Babylon in 1830. 1 Nephi 14:10.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not descend through the historical line of traditional Christianity. That is, Latter-day Saints are not Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant.”
This is true and it’s true they don’t adhere to any of the confessions of faith by early church fathers.
“Latter-day Saints do not believe scripture consists of the Holy Bible alone but have an expanded canon of scripture that includes the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
Each of these is examined below.”
And therein lies the rub as they say. The Bible clearly announces on several occasions we’re not to accept any other gospel or doctrine outside of the apostles’ teachings. Galatians 1:6-9.
“Latter-day Saints Do Not Accept the Creeds of Post–New Testament Christianity
Scholars have long acknowledged that the view of God held by the earliest Christians changed dramatically over the course of centuries. Early Christian views of God were more personal, more anthropomorphic, and less abstract than those that emerged later from the creeds written over the next several hundred years. The key ideological shift that began in the second century A.D., after the loss of apostolic authority, resulted from a conceptual merger of Christian doctrine with Greek philosophy.3”
1.The scholars they’re referencing are Roger Olsen “Twenty Years of Christian Theology” which comes from a strict Arminian viewpoint; D. Jeffrey Bingham The Routledge Companion to Early Christian Thought; and Daniel Graham and James Siebach “The Introduction of Philosophy into Early Christianity”. The latter resource of “scholars” is written by Mormons.
2. The creeds of Christianity defined the faith of Christianity. The Apostle’s Creed was written sometime between the first and second century (some say the 4th or 5th century), the Nicene Creed from 325 AD and modified in 381 AD, the Athanasian Creed from the 4th century, and also the Reformation Creeds or the Confessions of Luther from the 16th century.
These were written not only to define the faith, but to warn the body of Christ of heretical teachers who were trying to creep in just as they did in Paul’s day. Some like Arius believed Jesus was subordinate to the Father and it caused such uproar throughout Christianity the emperor Constatine got involved.
3. Apostolic authority wasn’t lost. Christianity has held firm to the authority of the apostle’s writings. When they died the office of apostle was no longer in existence, but their authority still held just as it does today.
4. Early Christianity didn’t abandon the doctrine of a personal God who interacts with His creation. Then and now they’ve held firmly to the belief God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent with each believer.
“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.”
As mentioned above Christianity didn’t meld with Greek philosophy at all! The creeds being a confession of faith outline and uphold the nature of the Godhead, or in Christian terms, the Trinity. Which by the way the LDS Church completely rejects and they are the guilty party of introducing Greek idioms and thought into the church.
False teachers like Arius, Marcion, followers of Montanism and Gnosticism are the thorn in the church’s side which have all been repackaged in today’s era as New Age, Paganism, Mormonism, Masonry, et al. These and other philosophies deny Jesus as God incarnate and deny the Holy Spirit as God.
“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.4 This Latter-day Saint belief differs from the post-New Testament creeds.”
“Whatever the doctrinal differences that exist between the Latter-day Saints and members of other Christian religions, the roles Latter-day Saints ascribe to members of the Godhead largely correspond with the views of others in the Christian world.”
No true Christian then or now adopts this ideology.
“Latter-day Saints believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-loving, and they pray to Him in the name of Jesus Christ. They acknowledge the Father as the ultimate object of their worship, the Son as Lord and Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as the messenger and revealer of the Father and the Son. In short, Latter-day Saints do not accept the post-New-Testament creeds yet rely deeply on each member of the Godhead in their daily religious devotion and worship, as did the early Christians.”
Truth: Mormons do not believe God is omnipotent or omniscient.
God & Man in Eternal Union, pgs. 1-2; “In many other ways the Mormon view is separate and distinct from the position of traditional Christianity. As a tangible being, God is considered to be in—not outside—of time and space. He is not an absolute Creator, for reality in its essential elements is said to be self-existent. By first attaining supreme intelligence, God organized self-existent realities for the mutual advantage of all concerned. The highest form of co-eternal life that God organized became man, whom he formed in His own image. By full development of his potential intelligence and by union with God, man may one day become a being of like intelligence as his divine Father.” – Hyrum Andrus
“Latter-day Saints Believe in a Restored Christianity
Another premise used in arguing that Latter-day Saints are not Christians is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not descend from the traditional line of today’s Christian churches: Latter-day Saints are not Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant. Latter-day Saints believe that by the ministering of angels to Joseph Smith priesthood authority to act in God’s name was returned or brought back to earth. This is the “restored,” not a “reformed,” church of Jesus Christ. The Latter-day Saint belief in a restored Christianity helps explain why so many Latter-day Saints, from the 1830s to the present, have converted from other Christian denominations. These converts did not, and do not, perceive themselves as leaving the Christian fold; they are simply grateful to learn about and become part of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, which they believe offers the fulness of the Lord’s gospel, a more complete and rich Christian church—spiritually, organizationally, and doctrinally.”
Truth: Most converts to Mormonism who come from Christian denominations have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into. Some may realize their mistake within a year while others won’t ever realize they’ve been tricked into believing their lies.
The early Christian church has never believed man lost the authority to act in God’s name.
The early Christian church never believed in “a ministering of angels” to bring back the priesthood.
The early Christian church has always accepted and believed Jesus took the priesthood with Him into heaven as it was non-transferrable. Christ served as the last sacrifice needed for the salvation of mankind. Hebrews chapters 7, 9 and 10.
“Members of creedal churches often mistakenly assume that all Christians have always agreed and must agree on a historically static, monolithic collection of beliefs. As many scholars have acknowledged, however, Christians have vigorously disagreed about virtually every issue of theology and practice through the centuries, leading to the creation of a multitude of Christian denominations.5”
Most converts haven’t read their Bibles enough to know the difference between “creedal Christianity” and a false Christianity. The reasons for this differ for each convert. In short, the body of Christ does get along quite well albeit there are distinct differences, but these differences don’t contradict with the creeds mentioned above.
“Although the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differs from that of the many creedal Christian churches, it is consistent with early Christianity. One who sincerely loves, worships, and follows Christ should be free to claim his or her understanding of the doctrine according to the dictates of his or her conscience without being branded as non-Christian.”
Hold on a minute here! They just got done telling us the doctrines of early Christianity are what they believe. How can they hold to the operations of early Christianity and reject it at the same time?
Everyone in this world past, present and future is free to worship anyone or anything they’d like. Christians don’t deny anyone this.
The truth is that you can call the pile of rocks in your backyard by the name of Jesus all you want, but it doesn’t make it any truer than me saying my Rottweiler is a cat.
“Latter-day Saints Believe in an Open Canon
A third justification argued to label Latter-day Saints as non-Christian has to do with their belief in an open scriptural canon. For those making this argument, to be a Christian means to assent to the principle of sola scriptura, or the self-sufficiency of the Bible. But to claim that the Bible is the sole and final word of God—more specifically, the final written word of God—is to claim more for the Bible than it claims for itself. Nowhere does the Bible proclaim that all revelations from God would be gathered into a single volume to be forever closed and that no further scriptural revelation could be received.6”
Revelation 22:18-19; “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
While the Mormon Church will tell you that John’s words are meant solely for the book of Revelation one must take into account what this is. God has spoken to us through His Son – Hebrews 1:1-2 – in these latter days. And then we have Jesus affirming to us that His words will never pass away in Matthew 24:35 so how could this statement only be referring to the book of Revelation? It can’t! This is in reference to everything God has taught us from Genesis to the end of Revelation. We don’t have the authority to change or take away anything He’s revealed to us in His word.
“Moreover, not all Christian churches are certain that Christianity must be defined by commitment to a closed canon.7 In truth, the argument for exclusion by closed canon appears to be used selectively to exclude the Latter-day Saints from being called Christian. No branch of Christianity limits itself entirely to the biblical text in making doctrinal decisions and in applying biblical principles.”
The truth is that all Christian churches are absolutely certain about a closed canon and are absolutely committed to that belief.
The body of Christ didn’t go out looking to pick on Joseph Smith or exclude him from Christianity. Rather, Smith came out of the gates swinging and hurling accusations at the body of Christ, referring to them as the “whore of Babylon”. Here are two other examples from the hundreds we have on file of the Mormon Church slamming Christianity.
Journal of Discourses 6:176; “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”. – Brigham Young
D&C 112:23; “Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.”
“Roman Catholics, for example, turn to church tradition and the magisterium (meaning teachers, including popes and councils) for answers. Protestants, particularly evangelicals, turn to linguists and scripture scholars for their answers, as well as to post–New Testament church councils and creeds. For many Christians, these councils and creeds are every bit as canonical as the Bible itself. To establish doctrine and to understand the biblical text, Latter-day Saints turn to living prophets and to additional books of scripture—the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.
Together with the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon supports an unequivocal testimony of Jesus Christ. One passage says that the Book of Mormon “shall establish the truth” of the Bible “and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.”8 In its more than six thousand verses, the Book of Mormon refers to Jesus Christ almost four thousand times and by over one hundred different names: “Jehovah,” “Immanuel,” “Holy Messiah,” “Lamb of God,” “Redeemer of Israel,” and so on.9 The Book of Mormon is indeed “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” as its title page proclaims.”
1. As a Christian I can say that I do use dictionaries and lexicons, I do use books written by scholars and theologians and I do trust the interpretation of my personal friends who speak fluent Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic. However, those tools are not canonical because they’re not inspired.
2. The BoM cannot prove the Bible is true. Archaeology digs can’t prove the Bible is true. Outside books and evidences of events from the past can help us confirm what took place in the Bible but they don’t prove the truthfulness of God’s word.
3. The BoM contains stories about Jesus that have been plagiarized from the Bible. It offers no new information on Christ so it can’t in reality be “another testament” if it’s already a published testament.
4. The BoM portrays prophets from the BC era who proclaimed the name of Jesus. The BoM speaks of millions of people who believed Jesus who eventually left the faith or were killed off by opposing tribes of people who aren’t documented outside the confines of the BoM.
5. The BoM carries a Trinitarian theme which is strictly denounced by LDS leaders. The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of Joseph Smith’s prophecies declaring a new form of worshiping God that doesn’t reflect the doctrines of the Bible. The Pearl of Great Price is a collection of writings from Egyptian papyri Smith supposedly translated depicting foreign gods usually sexual in nature. The Bible isn’t trusted by the Church so Joseph rewrote it and made prophecies about him.
Converts across the world continue to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in part because of its doctrinal and spiritual distinctiveness. That distinctiveness flows from the knowledge restored to this earth, together with the power of the Holy Ghost present in the Church because of restored priesthood authority, keys, ordinances, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fruits of the restored gospel are evident in the lives of its faithful members.
While members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have no desire to compromise the distinctiveness of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, they wish to work together with other Christians—and people of all faiths—to recognize and remedy many of the moral and family issues faced by society. The Christian conversation is richer for what the Latter-day Saints bring to the table. There is no good reason for Christian faiths to ostracize each other when there has never been more urgent need for unity in proclaiming the divinity and teachings of Jesus Christ.”
People will continue to join Mormonism and many other “isms” as long as there’s life on earth. The Bible warns us to watch out for false Christs and tells us that many will be tricked into believing a lie – Romans 1:20-25.
For those of us who are Christians the number of people who continue to join Mormonism is disheartening because we know the truth. The bloated number of followers the Church claims they have doesn’t have an effect on truth. Justin Bieber has over 49m followers – does he carry truth?
Jesus gave us a very good reason to call out the lies of those who trick people. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life” – John 14:6, there will be false Christs Matthew 24:23-25, a divided kingdom cannot stand – Mark 3:24-25. We aren’t “ostracizing” Mormonism; they’ve done this to themselves.
We’re publicly begging the Mormon people to come out from the shadows of lies and denounce the teachings of Joseph Smith. Believe in Jesus and you will be saved just as He told Nicodemus in John 3:3.
From all this we feel it’s abundantly clear the Mormon Church is NOT a Christian church, regardless of what they claim or how loud they bemoan their exclusion – they’ve rejected Christ Jesus and Him crucified.
With Love in Christ;
1 Corinthians 1:18