Thursday, July 18, 2013

Are Mormons Christians?

Another title for this article could be: "Are Christians Mormon?"
I've met, and am friends with a few Mormons, as well as a common acquaintance with many, online and off. (Topic aside, why are there so many Mormon bloggers?) I harbor no qualms with any of my fellow Mormons who reside on this Earth. What I am attempting to do with this article is explain that a Mormon is not a Christian and a Christian is not a Mormon. I'm not trying to start any major religious debate or anything, just assert that Mormons are Mormons and Christians are Christians, and the two are not the same. They are separate regions and should be treated as thus.

What spurs this post, you might ask? Well, I have met many a person who lumps both Christian followers and Mormons together. In recent discussions, many atheists, Hindus, and even some Mormons and Christians have the erroneous idea that a Mormon is a Christian and a Christian is a Mormon. This assumption is simply not true; the two religions are not synonymous. Christians and Mormons do not hold to the same creed or religious belief systems and their foundational tenets differ widely.  For example, you must be a Mormon to enter certain parts of the temple. A Christian would not be permitted to enter. Their are also many other doctrinal differences, as follow:

The Basic Tenets of Christianity 
  • Jesus Christ is the Only Way to Eternal Salvation With God the Father
    • “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) 
    • Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
  • We Are Saved by Grace Through Faith – Not by Works. Salvation is free.
    • “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8)
  • Jesus Christ is the Son of God
    • “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest …” (Luke 1:31)
    • “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him, and He in God.” (1 John 4:
  • The Incarnation of Jesus Christ
    • “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” (1 John 4:1-4)
  • The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ From the Grave, raised from the dead.
    • “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain … For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-18)
    • Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25)
  • The Ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven.
    • “And He led then out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24:50-51)
    • Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-10)
  • The Doctrine of the Trinity, three in one.
    • 1 John 5:7-8 "For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree"
    • John 10:30-36 "I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said..."
  • The Holy Bible is the Inspired and Infallible Word of God
    • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
    • “… knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20)
  • We Are Baptized With the Holy Spirit at the Moment of Salvation
    • Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
    • “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17)
    • “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9)
  • Regeneration by the Holy Spirit
    • “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)
  • The Doctrine of Hell, that Hell is a real place that the unsaved will be condemned to.
    • “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:6)
    • “But I will show you who you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5)
    • “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
  • The 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ Back to our Earth 
    • “And in the days of these things the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44)
    • “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)
Sources & References: (One Two Three Four Five)

The Basic Tenets of the Mormon Faith 
  • Mormons read and get their doctrine from the "Book of Mormon".
    • The Book of Mormon is the word of God. 1 Ne. 13:26 (20–40); 14:21 (20–26)
  • Jesus Christ is not the only way to Eternal Salvation in Mormon doctrine.
    • We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first,  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. (D&C 138:33; . (via)
  • God had a Physical Body, and was once a man like us. 
    • D&C 130:22 says, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.”Thus, man is made in the image of the body of God (Moses 6:9)
    • "As man is, God once was: as God is, man may be" (Lorenzo Snow, Millenial Star, vol.54).
    • Joseph Smith taught: "I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is...God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret...I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.345)
  • There is no original sin in the Mormon faith.
    •  The Articles of Faith 2 says, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”
  • Mormon salvation includes belief in God but also works and leading a sinless life.  
    • Alma 5:27 says, “Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble?” Moroni 10:32 says, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you.
    • James Talmage explains: "...redemption from personal sins can only be obtained through obedience to the requirement of the Gospel, and a life of good works" (James Talmage, in A Study of the Articles of Faith).
  • Mormons believe in a Godhead, not a Trinity.  They believe in three different beings, not one God, but three distinctly different Godhead's
    • "And they (the Gods) said, 'Let there be light'...And the Gods pronounced the dry land...And the Gods organized the earth...And the Gods planted a garden in Eden" (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 4:3,10,25; 5:8).
    • "Three separate personages---Father, Son, and Holy Ghost---comprise the Godhead...As each of these persons is a God, it is evident from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists. To us...these three are the only Gods we worship" (Mormon Doctrine, p.576-577).
  • Mormons do not believe in hell.
    • John A Widtsoe, Mormon Apostle states: "The meanest sinner will find some place in the heavenly realm...In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no Hell. All will find a measure of salvation" (Joseph Smith-Seeker After Truth, p.177-178, 1951).
    • Mormon historian B.H. Roberts explains: "Christians believed that to receive eternal punishment was to be punished eternally. This popular Christian error was corrected in a revelation" (Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, p.408).
    • One of the Mormon 'revelations' states: "Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment" (Doctrine and Covenants 19:6).
Sources and References (One Two Three Four Five)

This list is, of course, not exhaustive, nor can I cover all the many different interpretations of the Book of Mormon or the Bible. I tried to touch on the main tenets that a Mormon or Christian would believe in, and show how they are, in fact, very different.

Thus, while both Mormons and Christians throw around the name Jesus and God, they mean different things when the perspective parties use them. Mormons are not Christians, and Christians are not Mormons.


Rachel G said...

I definitely agree, there are some very key differences, they aren't the same religion. I feel like sometimes they get lumped together by others because both Christians and Mormons are generally seen as being "conservative".

Kelsey said...

A few of those weren't entirely true...for example that article of faith just means we won't be punished for the sin that Adam committed. It doesn't mean that wasn't a sin. Mormons definitely do believe in hell. Also we believe the Book of Mormon is an addition to the Bible. We don't only read the Book of Mormon. In my opinion it doesn't matter what you call yourself or categorize yourself. Christian, Mormon, or whatever. Your words and actions speak much louder.

Michelle Bellamy said...

*standing ovation*

Thank you. This is true, yet so little people understand it.

Sybil @ Peace it all Together said...

Thank you for outlining these differences. These are important distinctions.

EC Buck said...

I think you are quoting Mormon and Biblical scripture out of context, cherry picking verses from the former that contradict the latter and ignoring those that don't support your thesis. I usually enjoy reading your blog, but in this case I think you are way off due to the limited understanding you have of Mormon doctrine, not to mention the history of Christianity. Your definition of "Christianity" covers only Protestantism. What of
Coptic and Eastern European sects that firmly teach theosis?

For example, Mormons DO, actually, believe in original sin - the belief is that Adam's fall necessitates the atonement of Christ.

I have to wonder at your motivation for posting something that blatantly ignores all the common beliefs Mormons share with mainstream Christianity. Mormons believe in the Second Coming, the Bible as the word of God, the resurrection and ascension of a Divine Christ. While others may applaud you, I do not.

Carolynn said...

I do have a limited understanding of Mormon doctrine. However, I did leave out that some Mormon's believe in multiple wives, because I know this is something that many do not. My Mormon friend does not believe in hell. He says that is what he taught. And when I researched what Mormons believe about hell I did find that a majority do not believe that good people will go there, even if they are not Mormon. It seems to say that they just won't be able to become Gods of their own. Anyway, I did do a fair amount of research when writing this. And I do know that many Mormons do believe some of what Christians do--but that's the difference. You can't reject that Jesus is the son of God and was born of a virgin and be a Christian. Just believing in some of the tenets still makes a Mormon a Mormon and a Christian a Christian. I do know there are many different interpretations--that's why I tried to choose the most common, most fundamental basic building blocks of Christianity as a starting point, and why I said what I said in the end, that this was by far not an exhaustive list, and that I was aware that other interpretations existed. I tried to be logical, but I know I have a very fluid mind and debating does not come naturally to me. But I do want to learn. I do not believe a Mormon should use the term christian when speaking of themselves, because of how different their doctrine is, no matter that they pick and choose some pieces and believe in those.

EC Buck said...

Ok, yeah...except Mormons DO believe that Christ was the Son of God and born of a virgin. What is your source that tells you Mormonism rejects that? I appreciate that you did research when writing your blog post, but truthfully you did not do enough of it.

Truthfully, most Mormons (myself included) don't really care whether we are accepted into the clique that is American Evangelical Christianity. I normally wouldn't comment on this, but I feel that you are misrepresenting me and my religious tradition. I don't care whether you feel that, in your estimation, I am not allowed to self-identify as a Christian. But I do care that you are not posting accurate information on something that turned up in my pinterest feed.