Are Mormons Christian? Do doctrinal differences define us?

The second post in the series “Christian Mormons“, answering the question “Are Mormons Christian“.

There’s a reason this post comes second, only after “a look at the question itself“, because all of the other supporting posts, answering the questions of critics, stem from one common theme… we’re different.

I’m a Product Manager in practice, so I’m well acquainted with the idea that our differences define us.  In business, the whole idea is to “differentiate”, and indeed, there are many differences between Mormonism and orthodox Christianity.  This series is NOT about trying to prove that Mormons are the same as orthodox Christians, for we’re not.  This is a series of posts about Mormons being Christian, for we are.

The dictionary describes a Christian as one who believes in Jesus Christ and follows His teachings – which we do.

Why does it matter what a dictionary says?  Because as humans we rely on words to communicate.  To share complex ideas.  But our ability to communicate is only as good as another’s ability to understand us.  And that relies upon having socially accepted definitions of terms.  A dictionary.

If individuals or organizations chose to simply abandon what are otherwise socially acceptable definitions, and create their own, then as a whole, our ability to effectively communicate is diminished, and confusion ensues.

For instance, if someone asks, “are Mormons Christian?”, and what they really mean is “Do Mormons believe in Jesus Christ”, then to reply “no” would be an outright lie, even if you disagree with our faith.  And to knowingly lie is a sin, and has consequences.

It is this that matters to me.  The honesty of what you (as a non-Mormon) convey about Mormonism.  If your answer to that question was something akin to “technically yes, although there are several substantial differences between what they believe about Jesus Christ, and what orthodox Christianity believes…”, then you’re being honest, and that would be totally acceptable.

But the problem is, conspiring men don’t do this.  They perpetuate falsity by simply stating “no”, and as such, are caught (at least by our Father) in a lie.

Another example…  If someone came to me and asked “Are Hawaiians American?  I could answer “no”.  For in truth we have many critical differences.   I mean, they have their own language.  They often don’t even look like us.  I mean let’s be real, in a number of crucial ways, they’re very, very different… I mean they don’t even live on the same continent for goodness sake.

So, clearly, I could choose to create a definition contrary to society, and that would emphasize my individual belief, and could stubbornly convey that at every opportunity.  But would it be helpful?  Honest?

In short, while it’s true that our differences define us, we have more in common than not.  And of those things that we hold in common, is the belief in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, that he is our Redeemer, and that only through Him can we be saved.  We believe in Jesus Christ, and work to follow his teachings, which just happens to be the definition of “Christian”.  Hence, in answer to the question “Are Mormons Christian”.  Yes. 

Any answer otherwise is dishonest.



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9 Responses

  1. Awesome example of Hawaian v American.

  2. The question should be: Do mormons believe in the Bible’s CHRIST? Or Mormon’s Jesus is Lucifer’s brother (contrary to the Bible)? Does Mormon Jesus saves them by grace? By his sacrifice on the cross? Or they are saved by their works and what they cannot complete, then the sacrifice fills in. Is the Mormon Jesus a created being? Once a human that became a god? Contrary to scripture.
    No, Mormons are not Christians… at least not followers of the Biblical Christ.

  3. I hope knowing I’m out here sharpens your skills over time.

    Looking at what you’ve said, I could argue that you’ve presented a compelling argument for Mormons not being Christian, probably without even knowing it.

    It came in your “defining moment”. You wrote:

    “This series is NOT about trying to prove that Mormons are the same as orthodox Christians, for we’re not. This is a series of posts about Mormons being Christian, for we are. The dictionary describes a Christian as one who believes in Jesus Christ and follows His teachings – which we do. Why does it matter what a dictionary says? Because as humans we rely on words to communicate. To share complex ideas. But our ability to communicate is only as good as another’s ability to understand us. And that relies upon having socially accepted definitions of terms. A dictionary.”

    And so I apply the dictionary to your “orthodox” language.

    Orthodox =
    1. of, pertaining to, or conforming to the approved form of any doctrine, philosophy, ideology, etc.
    2. of, pertaining to, or conforming to beliefs, attitudes, or modes of conduct that are generally approved.
    3. customary or conventional, as a means or method; established.
    4. sound or correct in opinion or doctrine, esp. theological or religious doctrine.
    5. conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early church.
    6. (initial capital letter) of, pertaining to, or designating the Eastern Church, esp. the Greek Orthodox Church.
    7. (initial capital letter) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Orthodox Jews or Orthodox Judaism.

    You rightfully indicate that Mormonism is not orthodox Christianity. My big question is this, if something is not “orthodox ______ ” can it really be “______”? Is an unorthodox car really a car, or is it something else for which we don’t have proper language? Is an unorthodox Christian really something other than Christian? I believe the definition of orthodox demands that we call it something else.

    Back in a predecessor post in this thread, I indicated that you should be able to differentiate Mormon’s understanding of Christ vis a vis Islam or Baha’i. Both of these faiths value Christ’s teaching and follow them. (In fact, Jesus is in the Qu’ran). They could make the claim also that they are Christian, just “not orthodox Christians”. Granted, they do not look to Jesus Christ for salvation, but just what is the “minimum standard”?

    Right now I’m not trying to argue whether or not Mormons are Christians. I am demonstrating that some of this confusion results from the very language you and others have been using.

    Peace to you

    Pondering Pastor

  4. Orthodox is not a term we use, except when comparing ourselves to other Churches. We redily agree, we are not orthodox, nor do we strive to be. This has nothing to do with being Christian/not being Christian. We see no need to hold to the standards of men, but instead we strive to hold to the standards our Savior has set for us. It does not matter how you define us. We are Christians, for we follow Christ!

  5. OK, that sounds pretty stuffy. I just get a little bent out of shape when we keep getting told we are not Christian, we’re liers and we plot to lead people astray. I wouldn’t have stuck around in this Church for nearly 42 of my 63 years if I had seen the things we have been accused of. Many of my friends and most of my family are non Mormons. They often ask me questions, and I try very hard to answer them without being pushy. Most Mormons aren’t pushy and are decent, honest, hard working, law abiding citizens, who go about doing good wherever they see it needs to be done. I am grateful to be one! It was the best decision I ever made!

  6. Dikayo:

    Great questions. I’ll answer them one by one…

    Do Mormons believe in the Bible’s Christ? Yes. We believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

    Do Mormons believe that Lucifer is the brother of Christ? Yes. We believe we were all created by God the Father. Please show me the contradiction in the Bible.

    Do Mormons believe they are saved by grace? Yes. For example, the Book of Mormon states “There is no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17), and “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ… that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (1 Nephi 25:26).

    Or are they saved through works and what they cannot complete, then the sacrifice fills in? No, we’re not saved through works, we’re saved through Christ, but as the Bible says “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21 emphasis added).

    Is the Mormon Jesus a created being? As I stated above, we believe that we are all children of God the Father, even God the Son. I guess that’s why they call him, the Son.

    Once a human, become a god? We believe he was a God before he ever came to earth, and believe as Paul taught that we too can become “joint heirs” with Christ, and receive “all the Father hath”, becoming like Him in every way. Can you show me where that’s contrary to scripture, since we derive that belief from the scriptures.

    Hence, are Mormons Christian… again, yes. For though there are doctrinal differences, we believe in Jesus Christ, just as we belive in the Bible (hence, we believe in the Biblical Christ).

  7. Pondering Pastor,

    Believe me, it does. And I’ve got LOTS of sharpening left to do!

    In answer to your question “if something is not “orthodox _____”, can it really be “______”?

    Most certainly.

    Is an unorthodox argument still an argument? Yes, but it’s unorthodox. Is an unorthodox car still a car? Here is a YouTube video of a boat/car (pretty cool eh? I’d love to get my hands on one). Is it unorthodox? I should say so! I’ve certainly never encountered one before. Is it a car? It is… a boat too, actually. Being Certainly, being unorthodox doesn’t negate what it is, it just means it’s, well, unorthodox, not customary or conventional.

    As Margaret said, being “orthodox” is not our goal. I assume being orthodox was not the goal of Luther either, when he broke away because he felt that what was orthodox, was incorrect. When Christ came to the earth, his goal was not to be orthodox, in fact, he was anything but.

    The idea of “orthodoxy”, therefore, is not something worthy to strive for. For what IS orthodox, changes (e.g. the Nicene Creed). What we should strive for, then, is not to submit to popular opinion, but rather submit ourselves to the truth, wherever that may lead us. Much like what was Luther’s intent.

    As for the other religions you specify, it’s not for me to decide if they’re Christian or not. If they believe in Jesus Christ, and classify themselves as Christian, I don’t feel threatened by that, it actually doesn’t bother me at all (although I don’t believe they do classify themselves as Christian, which is perhaps important too).

    I don’t feel my Christianity is at risk by someone else claiming they’re Christian, even if I disagree with their doctrine. I believe Lutherans are Christian. And you’re as different to me as I am to you.

  8. Good response. Is there a point where unorthodox means someone has gone too far?

    No time for more this morning.

    Pondering Pastor

  9. I’m SO glad you asked. That right there is the most pertinent question that has yet been asked, perfectly perceptive.

    Instead of treating it mildly in the comments, where it’ll get lost, I’ll dedicate my very next post to it, for it strikes right at the dead center of this discussion of whether or not Mormons are Christian.

    Thank you.

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