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Are Mormons Christians?

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Mette Ivie Harrison


This Sunday, I attended a Methodist worship service as well as part of my traditional Mormon “Sacrament Meeting.” My son and daughter play in the bell ringing choir at the Methodist church, recruited by my son’s girlfriend. My husband, other children, and I have now attended multiple services there, as well as evening fundraising dinners at this local church. This has led me to think more carefully about why it is that many Christians do not consider Mormons to be part of their group, and why Mormons are so vociferous in our demands to be included.

The Methodist worship service I attended was focused completely on Jesus Christ and on scriptures from the book of Acts, though not the traditional King James version of the New Testament that I am used to. The Mormon Sacrament Meeting I attended had various speakers and they may have had a unified theme, but I couldn’t tell what it was (perhaps because I came in late). The young woman I heard spoke about her experience at a recent youth camp and about how that related to the Mormon pioneers in the 1800s. The man I heard spoke about the importance of family history work and of Mormon temples. A visitor to the Mormon service might have completely missed the importance of Christ in Mormon worship service. That would have been impossible in the Methodist worship service, where every sentence was about Christ.

But there are reasons for this, I believe, that don’t have to do with the reality of whether or not Mormons should be seen as Christians. Historically, Mormons spent many years being persecuted by other Christians, and it was natural that once forced out west to Utah, an insularity developed, as well as a pride in being a “peculiar people” who did Christianity very differently. Thus, we speak about our pioneer ancestry with more frequency than might make sense in another Christian church. We are proud of our temples as beautiful constructs, in particular because each time Mormons were persecuted in the early days of the church, our temples were taken from us or destroyed. Our temple work is an answer to the question, what about those who die without the chance to hear the gospel of Christ and accept His Atonement, so it really has more to do with Christianity than some might assume.

I admit that Mormons also sometimes have a bit of a “chip on the shoulder” when it comes to Christianity. Most Mormons believe their church is the “one true church of Christ,” and that we have the “restored gospel of Christ.” I think all churches believe on some level that they have a unique purpose to offer to the world, even if they don’t believe they are the “only” true church or that they are the “best.” But Mormons and other Christians have more in common, I think, than we have differences. Let me try to detail both differences and similarities.

A man wrote to me after my essay about “Are Mormons a Cult?” and took me to task for my insistence that Mormons were Christians, detailing three reasons he felt we are not:

1. The nature of God, the fact that Mormons believe that God has a body of flesh and bones, rather than being a spirit.

2. Joseph Smith taught that there was a plurality of gods (God the Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit are separate beings, and many “intelligences” helped form the earth in the Mormon scripture called The Pearl of Great Price).

3. Mormons believe in a pre-mortal life, which is a pagan belief (via Plato) and not a belief of other Christians.

His list ended there, but I could go on:

4. Mormons believe that they can become gods (not spoken of much anymore, though not officially renounced, either).

5. Mormons believe that we were all siblings (children of God) in the pre-mortal life, including Christ and Lucifer (Satan).

6. Mormons believe that other Christian churches are “apostate,” meaning devoid of true priesthood authority from God, which was taken from the earth in the first century, and only returned in the 1800s to Joseph Smith.

7. Mormons believe that they have to do various temple rituals (baptisms and marriage sealings) in order to return to God, thus denying the sufficiency of Christ’s Atonement.

Here are some reasons I think that Mormons should be considered Christians:

1. Mormons believe that Christ is the literal son of God, that He came to Earth to show a path to righteousness to all who followed after Him, and to complete the Atonement, a remarkable and miraculous act that allows all to receive forgiveness from their sins.

2. Mormons believe that Christ literally rose again on the third day in a perfected body, that He showed Himself to His disciples, and then ascended to heaven to reign with the Father.

3. Mormons believe that Christ still lives, that He speaks to us in small and big ways, that He wants us to be happy and to learn good things, to treat each other with kindness and love.

4. Mormons believe that resurrection is a possibility for us, as well, and that there is a heaven and a kind of hell (though only a temporary one).

5. Mormons believe that the Old Testament is filled with signs and prophecies about Christ.

6. Mormons believe in a Second Coming of Christ, an Armageddon, a Millennium, and a Judgment Day. We study The Book of Revelation from the Bible and use it as a gauge for the “signs of the times,” or the end of the world.

7. Mormons believe that the Bible is the word of God and that it contains many wonderful teachings, and that all Christian churches are trying to lead people to God and to good lives. We typically use the King James’ version in church services.

8. Mormons believe in baptism by immersion, as was taught by John the Baptist and Jesus Christ in the Bible. We also believe in a laying on of hands for the “Gift of the Holy Ghost.” For us, this is at age eight.

9. Mormons have a communion, called “Sacrament,” in every Sunday church service, where we are reminded of Christ’s blood and of His body, which was freely sacrificed for our sakes.

10. Mormons believe in the original hierarchy of the Christian church: deacons, teachers, priests, bishops, apostles, and prophets.

11. Mormons are exhorted to live a Christian life, treating others as they would wish to be treated themselves, marrying ideally only once, and raising their children to worship as they do.

12. Mormons give tithes to the church to be used in building up the kingdom of God. We also take care of the poor and needy among us, widows and orphans and many others, through our “fast offerings” and through other offerings which are targeted to particular disasters throughout the world.

Are Mormons sometimes remiss in talking about Christ and how all the parts of Mormonism eventually come from our central belief in Christ? Yes, we probably are. Are Mormons a little weird? Maybe a lot weird, both in practice and in doctrine. Are there some weird doctrines that used to be part of the Mormon church that are no longer talked about today (the Adam-God doctrine, for instance, and polygamy in general)? Yes, there are, and some of them would make practicing Mormons as angry as other Christians. Are there deeper doctrines about Christ that Mormons believe that other Christians would disagree with (three degrees of glory in heaven, a universal resurrection, and the eternal family unit)? Yes, there are. But I have a hard time seeing what other religious tradition Mormonism might be considered part of if not Christianity. Buddhism? Islam? Hinduism? Paganism?

Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith or any of the prophets in the history of our church to the present-day. We believe they are prophets, who speak to Christ and offer us His words in a unique capacity as His special servants, but that they are also flawed and limited in their capacity to understand Him and His glory. We do not worship any of the character from The Book of Mormon. The statue of Moroni on our temples is not an indication to the contrary. Moroni is a reminder that Christ will come again, and his trumpet will call all those who believe to him. Mormons do not worship salamanders, do not practice folk magic, do not preach polygamy, and do not think that Christ is really a part of worshiping Satan.

Perhaps what a lot of Christians mean when they say that Mormons don’t count as Christians is that they don’t like our version of Christianity. Perhaps what they mean is that they think we make them look bad with our wild and sweeping ideas. Well, sometimes that old crazy cousin shows up at the family reunion and everyone has to deal with the reality that they are blood-related. Many of Mormonism’s ideas about Christianity are ideas that various branches of the Catholic church explored and then rejected: universal resurrection, for instance, and married priests, as well as the rejection of alcohol and meat. If you read about the history of Christianity, I think you will discover that Mormons are not nearly the strangest version of Christianity out there. There are a lot of Christian groups who believe things that you would consider as heretical as anything you’ve heard about the Mormons.

I wish that every Mormon you met acted in a perfectly Christian way. No, wait, I don’t wish that. The Mormon church is meant for sinners, not for Saints, despite the title about “Latter-day Saints.” We’re in process. We’re trying to be like Christ, but none of us think we’re anywhere close to that as of yet. Even our church is still in process, throwing off old ideas and prejudices as we see them for what they are: men’s ideas, and not God’s. If you want to talk about doctrinal niceties that distinguish Mormonism from your own Christian church, go ahead and do so. But please don’t take the opportunity to make Mormons feel once more that they are being persecuted as their pioneer ancestors were. It won’t make you understand them more or them understand you, and I think that ultimately, that should be the goal. You don’t have to agree with Mormons to acknowledge that they deserve to be treated as people who are on the same journey to Christ that you are.



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    • PixiePaul

      NO, Mormons are NOT Christians. My parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was 3 years old. I was 58 years old, before I realized with a shock [through research on the internet] that the LDS Church is a non-Christian cult and that Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon were/are massive frauds/scams/con jobs (there is proof of this in official Mormon History, but few Mormons ever bother to read it). Most Mormons, even those who have been members for many years, have NO idea of the TRUE history and teachings of the LDS Church. What shocked me most was the following (from

      “… Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that he (Adam) is God of the whole earth. Then will the words of the prophet Brigham Young, WHEN SPEAKING OF ADAM, be fully realized – ‘HE IS OUR FATHER AND OUR GOD, AND THE ONLY GOD WITH WHOM WE HAVE TO DO.’”
      Bernard P. Brockbank, in the LDS Church’s 147th General Conference, said that the CHRIST FOLLOWED BY THE MORMONS IS NOT THE CHRIST FOLLOWED BY TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY; he said:
      “… It is true that many of the CHRISTIAN CHURCHES WORSHIP A DIFFERENT JESUS CHRIST THAN is worshipped by THE MORMONS…” (“The Ensign,” May 1977, p. 26.)
      In summary, Jesus of the LDS Church is not Jesus of the Bible. God of the LDS Church is not God of the Bible.
      These teachings are not revealed to investigators or new converts, because those people are not yet considered ready to have more than “milk” as doctrine. The church leaders probably realize that if investigators knew of these unusual teachings they would not join the church — the following teachings are noteworthy:
       God was once a man like us.
       God has a tangible body of flesh and bone.
       God lives on a planet near the star Kolob.
       God (“Heavenly Father”) has at least one wife, our “Mother in Heaven,” but she is so holy that we are not to discuss her nor pray to her.
       Jesus was married.
       We can become like God and rule over our own universe.
       There are many gods, ruling over their own worlds.
       Jesus and Satan (“Lucifer”) are brothers, and they are our brothers – we are all spirit children of Heavenly Father.
       Jesus Christ was conceived by God the Father by having sex with Mary, who was temporarily his wife.
       We should not pray to Jesus, nor try to feel a personal relationship with him.
       The “Lord” (“Jehovah”) in the Old Testament is the being named Jesus in the New Testament, but different from “God the Father” (“Elohim”).
       In the highest degree of the celestial kingdom some men will have more than one wife.
       Before coming to this earth we lived as spirits in a “pre-existence”, during which we were tested; our position in this life (whether born to Mormons or savages, or in America or Africa) is our reward or punishment for our obedience in that life.
       Dark skin is a curse from God, the result of our sin, or the sin of our ancestors. If sufficiently righteous, a dark-skinned person will become light-skinned.
       The Garden of Eden was in Missouri (USA). All humanity before the Great Flood lived in the western hemisphere. The Ark transported Noah and the other survivors to the eastern hemisphere.
       Not only will human beings be resurrected to eternal life, but also all animals – everything that has ever lived on earth – will be resurrected and dwell in heaven.
       Christ will not return to earth in any year that has seen a rainbow.
       Mormons should avoid travelling on water, since Satan rules the waters.
       The sun receives its light from the star Kolob.
       If a Gentile becomes Mormon, the Holy Ghost actually purges his Gentile blood and replaces it with Israelite blood.
       A righteous Mormon will actually see the face of God in the Mormon temple.
       You can identify a false angel by the color of his hair, or by offering to shake his hand.

      • PixiePaul

        The Adam-God doctrine (Adam is God the Father):

        The Mormon God Elohim had Sex with Mary
        … To illustrate more clearly that Brigham Young meant that Christ’s conception was actual
        physical sex, here is another of his statements:
        “The birth of our Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it
        was the result of NATURAL ACTION. He partook of FLESH AND BLOOD–was begotten
        of his father, as we were of our fathers.” (JoD, vol. 8, p. 115).

        Here are a few more quotes from the 1962 Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Lesson
        Manual “Gospel Living in the Home,” p. 16-17:
        “Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily OFFSPRING; that
        is to say, Elohim is LITERALLY the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and
        also of the BODY in which Jesus Christ performed his mission in the flesh…”
        (as quoted from ‘The Articles of Faith’ by James E. Talmage, p. 466).

        “We are told in the scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of
        God in the flesh….how are children begotten? I answer, just as Jesus was
        begotten of his Father. The Christian denominations believe that Christ was
        begotten not of God, but of the spirit that overshadowed his mother. THIS IS
        NONSENSE. Why will they not believe the Father when He says that Jesus Christ
        is His Only Begotten Son? Why will they try to EXPLAIN THIS TRUTH AWAY and
        make mystery of it?”

        Quote from Ezra Taft Benson from 1988, published while he was president of the LDS church:
        “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God
        in THE MOST LITERAL SENSE. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh
        was SIRED by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father.”
        (Teachings of ET Benson, p. 6).

    • Bill Lyle

      Mormons are kind of like the Gilbert Gottfried, of Christianity. Goofy, obnoxious, and ultimately, abrasive to the point that you’d like to beat them, with their own name tags.

      Magic underwear? Seriously?

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