Are the Mormons Christians? This is a a crucial matter—but it is a matter of definition. Let me share with you how the Latter-day Saints (LDS) address this question.
Although it is not a creed, the LDS Articles of Faith serve as a compact summary of some of the Saints’ most important beliefs. The First Article of Faith states, in its entirety:
We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. (Pearl of Great Price, Article of Faith 1)
More specifically, we believe that Jesus is divine, and is the second of the three members of the Godhead. He is the Firstborn of the Father, and the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. We believe that Jesus is the anointed Messiah, the Savior of the World, and that he performed the ultimate atonement for our sins.
The true name of the LDS or Mormon Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We perform all sacred ordinances (what some might think of as sacraments) in Jesus’ name. We always pray to the Father in Jesus’ name.
We believe that Jesus atoned for our sins and died at the Crucifixion, having the power to lay down His life, and take it up again. We believe that He is the first person ever to be resurrected from the dead (as shown in the painting above). We believe that He ascended into heaven, that He now reigns at the right hand of the Father, and that He will return to the Earth in glory.
We believe that salvation is through faith on His name, a living faith that is shown through obedience to His commandments.
As far as the Latter-day Saints are concerned, this means that Mormons are Christians. Mormons recognize as Christian anyone who believes in Christ as the divine Savior of humankind.
There are those who say that other Mormon beliefs somehow disqualify Mormons from being Christians. Some of these beliefs include the following:
- Mormons believe that God communicates with His people today through a living prophet, someone having the same gift and authority as such ancient prophets as Moses and Peter.
- Mormons have scriptures, received through modern-day prophets, in addition to the Bible. (These include the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.)
- Mormons believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are actually three separate beings, albeit united in one Godhead in perfect unity.
- Mormons believe that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones, as tangible as any man’s.
- Mormons believe that God will make his faithful full inheritors of all that Christ has, including making them gods.
In response to those who claim that these beliefs are unchristian, Mormons claim that each of these beliefs is actually biblical. In future posts on this blog, I shall address the biblical nature of each of these beliefs.
- Online essay with video: “Jesus Christ Is the Way.”
- Online essay with videos: “Jesus Christ, Our Savior.”
- Online essay: “Are Mormons Christians?” by Stephen E. Robinson (from The New Era, May 1998).
- Online essay: “Christianity: Following Jesus in Word and Deed,” Nov. 2011.
- Online essay: “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Dec. 2000. (This is the testimony of the LDS Apostles that Christ lives today.)
- Gospel Principles, Chapter 3: “Jesus Christ, Our Chosen Leader and Savior”
- Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Bookcraft, 1991).
- Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints (Eerdmans, 2005)
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[The image of Antonio da Correggio’s ca. 1534 painting, “Jesus and Mary Magdalene,” is in the public domain, and was found on Wikimedia Commons.]
Copyright 2012 Mark Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.