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I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are Mormons Christians--A Response to the New Era

There is an article from the New Era claiming that Mormons are Christian. Some of the claims in the article are uniformed and illogical. My response to the article is in blue italics 


Are Mormons Christians?

Of course we are Christians. Why would anyone say otherwise? Here are the facts.

If you live in Utah, you may be surprised. If you live where Latter-day Saints are a minority, you’ve probably heard it before—perhaps many times. But there are sincere people out there who believe the Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians. In fact, the accusation that we are not Christians is probably the most commonly heard criticism of the LDS Church and its doctrines today.
Why would anyone say such a thing? Isn’t the name of our church The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Do we not worship Christ? Is not the Book of Mormon another testament of Jesus Christ? How could anyone seriously doubt that Latter-day Saints are Christians?
A name actually means little. Anyone can call themselves whatever they want to, it doesn't make them what they claim to be. More than a name must be seen. In this case, correct beliefs and biblical behavior and organization much be seen, as fundamentally and historically a Christian is a worshiper of, follower of, and believer in Christ and what he did as he showed himself to be and was taught about by his apostles, which record exists today in the Bible.
The purpose of this article is to help you understand why some people make this accusation. Knowing that, perhaps you can be more comfortable and knowledgeable in dealing with such views when you hear them expressed. But remember that the spirit of contention is always un-Christian (see D&C 10:63). This article is meant to provide information and understanding rather than ammunition for disputes.
On the contrary, Christians should be able to contend for their faith. If Elder Robinson means heated and unloving arguments or violence, he is certainly right, but "contention" insofar as defending the faith or expounding on it, including in the face is adversity, is extremely biblical. Paul's persistence in the face of adversity and his firm ground against false teachings such as in 2 Corinthians 11, and Jesus' many conflicts with the Pharisees, are prime examples of this.
There are a number of arguments used supposedly to “prove” that we are not Christian. It is important to recognize that none of them have anything to do with whether or not Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ. Rather, what they basically boil down to is this: Latter-day Saints are different from the other Christian churches. Actually, I would say its not so much Christian churches and the Bible. I could care less what other Christian churches believe, I care what the Bible teaches, as does any other biblical Christian. (We understand that these differences exist because traditional Christianity has wandered from the truth over the centuries, but other denominations see things otherwise.) Interesting that here Robinson is effectively saying that Mormons are the only true Christians, and Christians aren't. There is also a lack of evidence for his claim when it comes to the Bible itself, though it could perhaps be made with specific denominations. The LDS leadership tend to miss this dearth of evidence, however, as lack of evidence and evidence to the contrary would argue against the point being made here. If they don't maintain this position of everyone but them holding all truth, they have no ground to stand on. Their arguments against the Latter-day Saints being Christian generally fall into six basic categories:

Exclusion by special definition

1 What is a Christian? The term is found three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16), but it is not defined in any of those passages. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, the term Christian may be defined in a number of ways, but the most common is “one who believes or professes … to believe in Jesus Christ and the truth as taught by him … one whose life is conformed to the doctrines of Christ.” The second most common meaning is “a member of a church or group professing Christian doctrine or belief.”
Under either of these two definitions, Latter-day Saints qualify as Christians. Well, except for the very important part about conforming to the doctrines of Christ and the truths taught by him. That seems to be important. However, if a special definition is created under which Christian means “only those who believe as I do,” then others might claim Latter-day Saints aren’t Christians—but all this would really mean is that while Mormons believe in Christ, we don’t believe exactly as they do. Excluding us in this way by inventing a special definition for the word Christian is like defining a duck as an aquatic bird with a broad, flat bill, webbed feet, and white feathers, and then concluding that mallards aren’t ducks because their feathers are the wrong color.
If the term Christian is used, as it is in standard English, to mean someone who accepts Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God and the Savior of the world, then the charge that we aren’t Christians is false. There is a danger in this argument. If anyone claims belief to Christ being the Son of God and Savior, then they can call themselves Christians under the LDS definition. Yet, there are many people that the LDS would not accept as Christian who could and have claimed to believe that. LDS are wishing to broaden the definition so that it can include them, but they are doing so in a way that includes people who they themselves would possibly deny as being Christian. However, if the word Christian is given an overly narrow definition, then it is merely a way of saying LDS Christians differ in some degree from other Christians. No one “owns” the term Christian or has the right to deny it to others who worship Jesus as the divine Son of God. Actually, we do have a right to deny it to false teachers and those who follow false teachings--these are called heretics. Christians must be careful and discerning in this, as there are some open-handed issues amongst Christians that can be disagreed on but which do not mean that one side or the other is not Christian, but Paul himself denounces those who teach falsely of Christ and his gospel as cursed (Galatians 1:8-9) and says that they will face destruction (2 Peter 2:3).

Exclusion by misrepresentation

2 Some people insist on condemning Latter-day Saints for doctrines the Saints don’t even believe. They say, in effect, “This is what you Mormons believe.” Then they recite something that is certainly not taught by the Latter-day Saints. It’s easy to make LDS beliefs seem absurd if critics can make up whatever they want and pass it off as LDS doctrine.
While is is probably done sometimes, it is rarely done intentionally and is often not done at all by those who have actually taken time to do some research and/or who were once Mormon. Mormons themselves won't be swayed by lies, so its generally pointless to use them. The truth of some of the teachings and happenings of the church, especially in the days of Brigham Young, are absurd and even disgusting enough without having to make up lies. The key is not to assume that the claim is a lie, but to double-check to see if the claims can be cited and supported.
A good example of this kind of misrepresentation took place when the subject of the Latter-day Saint pioneers came up in my daughter Sarah’s school classroom a few years ago. One of her classmates said, “My daddy says Mormons are people who live in Utah and worship idols.” Sarah quickly answered back, “Well, I’m a Mormon, and we don’t worship idols.” But many of her classmates never did believe her, largely because they had already accepted the misrepresentation.
Another form of misrepresentation is to claim something is official LDS doctrine when it may merely be an individual opinion or even speculation. The official doctrine of the Latter-day Saints is clearly defined and readily accessible to all. Doctrines are official if they are found in the standard works of the Church, if they are sustained by the Church in general conference (D&C 26:2), or if they are taught by the First Presidency as a presidency. Policies and procedures are official whenever those who hold the keys and have been sustained by the Church to make them declare them so. Other churches claim the right to define and interpret their own doctrines and policies and to distinguish between official church teachings and the opinions of individual members. Surely the Latter-day Saints must be allowed the same privilege.
Interestingly, most of the claims that the church denounces as "opinion or speculation," such as blood atonement, Adam-God, or the curse of Cain, actually do fit these qualifications. They were taught by the First Presidency in general conferences as doctrine and revelation, published for the Saints by the First Presidency's approval, and in some cases, like with polygamy, are doctrine still in D&C but no longer implemented or believed to be commanded.

Name calling

3 Name calling has often been used in religious controversies. At one time, Catholics called Protestants “heretics,” and Protestants called Catholics “papists.” But this sort of tactic amounts to nothing more than saying, “Boo for your religion, and hurrah for mine.”
The negative term most frequently flung at the LDS is “cult,” a term which can suggest images of pagan priests and rituals. But the truth is there is no objective distinction by which a cult may be distinguished from a religion. Actually, it generally can, and the LDS church tends to fit the distinctions and definitions. There are many attributes of cults that the LDS fits, such as controlling its members, having dictating leadership that is not to be questioned even when wrong, scorning or ostracizing those who leave, discouraging members from researching and asking certain questions (in the case of the Mormon church, they label such forbidden material as anti-Mormon, which ironically is also name-calling, and they strongly imply or outright say that Satan is getting a hold on the members who read or see/listen to those sorts of things). There is also the Christian extension of the use of the word cult which says that they use many of the same words, terms, and scriptures, but their main theology is vastly different and not at all biblical. Use of the term cult does not tell us what a religion is, only how it is regarded by the person using the term. It simply means “a religion I don’t like.”
Though non-LDS scholars have made many attempts to define a “cult” in a way that would distinguish it from a “religion,” to date every such attempt has failed. So far the major difficulty has been that any definition of “cult” that fits the LDS Church also fits New Testament Christianity! But that’s not bad company to be in.
The only definition of the term "cult" that both Christianity and the Mormon church fit into is the general definition that pretty much every religion is a "cult," which is not a negative use of the word. Because of the negative connotations of the actual word "cult," however, that definition is largely unused, at least in America, except in certain fields such as history.

Exclusion by tradition

4 It is sometimes argued that to be truly Christian, modern churches must accept both biblical Christianity and the traditional Christianity of later history. In other words, one must accept not just biblical doctrines, but also the centuries of historical development—the councils, creeds, customs, theologians, and philosophers—that came along after New Testament times. Since the Latter-day Saints do not accept doctrines originating in the early Church after the death of the apostles and prophets, we are accused of not being “historical” or “traditional” Christians.
In fact, we believe that revelation to the early Church stopped because of the death of the Apostles and the growing apostasy, or falling away, from the truth. In the absence of Apostles, the church eventually turned to councils of philosophers and theologians, for guidance. These councils, after lengthy debates, in turn interpreted the gospel according to their best understanding. Often they drew upon the philosophies of respected men (like Plato), concluding, for example, that God has no body or physical nature; or that the three separate persons of the Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—are only one being. The declarations of these councils are still generally accepted today by traditional Christian churches as official doctrines. Yet these creeds were formulated centuries after the deaths of the Apostles and the close of the New Testament.
This is a deplorably inaccurate representation of history and of Christianity. What the LDS church misses is that those councils were gathered to define doctrine based on the Bible, not based on their own ideas, and often done so specifically to combat heresies. There is, in fact, no evidence of a great apostasy, nor any logical reason that there would have been one just because the apostles died. Those they taught, the earliest Christians, were dying for their beliefs up until the time of the creeds, and in some areas continued to die for it despite their belief being legalized. They saw those beliefs as their salvation, and strongly combated heresies because the beliefs were of the utmost importance to them. The councils merely set those beliefs in stone.
There is no denying that there was selective apostasy. The need for the councils to fight against heresies shows that obvious fact. However, a complete falling away is simply illogical and not at all historical or provable. It is a claim made by the LDS church simply because there would be no need for a "restored church" if they didn't make the claim. 
Were the Twelve Apostles Christians? Of course. But if it were true that one must accept the whole package of historical Christianity in order to be a Christian, then it would be impossible for early Christians, including Jesus and his disciples, to qualify—since they lived centuries before these traditions came to be. On the other hand, if the New Testament Saints can be considered Christians without accepting all the traditions of men that came later, then so can the Latter-day Saints, and the historical exclusion is invalid.
Accepting ALL the historical teachings is actually not a qualification for being Christian. However, many of the early church fathers expounded upon doctrine within the Bible, and helped define Christian doctrine, such as naming the biblical concept of the Trinity (which was done nearly 150 years before the first council). Not every early church father was correct in every aspect, but they were essential to the development of Christian theology BASED ON THE BIBLE, and are therefore important. However, one can become a true Christian without knowing about them, as their accepted teachings are in the Bible and it is belief in Christ as he is taught about in the Bible and what he did as explained in the Bible that saves, because only Christ is the way, the truth, and the life...not the church fathers.

The canonical or biblical exclusion

5 The term “canon of scripture” refers to the collection of books accepted by any group as the authoritative word of God. For most Christians the canon of scripture is limited to the Bible. But Latter-day Saints have a larger canon of scripture that includes the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. The canonical exclusion, in its simplest form, says that since Latter-day Saints have books of scripture in addition to the “traditional” Christian Bible, they cannot be Christians.
One of the problems with this canonical exclusion lies in the assumption that there is only one “traditional” Christian Bible. Over the centuries, there have been a number of different versions of the Bible, and many Christian churches and individuals have disagreed about which books should be included. Even today, the Bible used by Catholics contains a number of different books than the Bible used by Protestants. Yet Catholics and Protestants continue to call each other Christians—even though they have different canons of scripture.
First of all, different versions of the Bible do not necessarily make the Bible non-"traditional." The different versions exist for different reasons, and most of them are good reasons. For instance, for a while the Bible was only available in Latin, which only priests and highly educated people, such as noble men, could read, so the masses were excluded. This led to the Bible eventually being put into English--thus a different version of the Bible than the "traditional" version of that time. Yet, no one can reasonably argue that this is a bad reason for a different version. The King James Version was used for quite a while, but as our language is no longer spoken like it was in the time of King James, and as more ancient copies and fragments of the Bible have been found to help make the Bible even more clear and accurate where it wasn't necessarily before because only later manuscripts were available, the need for new translations became obvious. There are good translations and bad translations, but it doesn't take much research to find out which is which, and all of them teach the same doctrines and contain the same stories, parables, books, etc., which is what is essential to the Bible. I could quote one version of a verse, and you another, and the meaning of the verses would be the same if taken from any good translation.
Second, the Catholic church includes the apocrypha in their canon, which most other Christians don't because the apocrypha isn't generally considered inspired or prophetic, as they come from the "quiet" period between the last book of the Old Testament and the birth of Jesus. It is the decision of the Catholic church to use those books, and they are certainly not wrong for Christians to study, but their status as actual scripture is questionable and not widely accepted. Beyond that, the canon of the Catholic church and the Protestants is the same.
When revelation stopped after the death of the early Apostles, people were forced to draw one of two conclusions: (1) either revelation had stopped because God had already said everything they would ever need, or (2) revelation had stopped because the church lacked apostles and prophets to speak for him. Traditional Christians accept the first explanation; Latter-day Saints accept the second.
Sometimes critics cite Revelation 22:18–19 [Rev. 22:18–19] as evidence that the Bible forbids adding to or taking away from the canon of scripture. In these verses, John curses those who would add to or take away from “this book.” But when John wrote Revelation, the Bible in its present form did not yet exist. He was simply referring to his own book, the Book of Revelation, rather than to the whole Bible.
The truth is that prophets have usually added to the scriptures—almost all the biblical apostles and prophets did this. There is, in fact, no biblical statement whatever closing the canon of scripture or prohibiting additional revelation or additional scripture after the New Testament.
There is the fact that God inspired John (the author of Revelation, the final book of the Bible) to write that in the book, knowing it would become the final book of the Bible. There is also the fact that the Bible begins with the beginning and ends with the end to consider. It is a complete story. Everything in between the beginning and the end is centered on Christ--the Old Testament looks forward to Christ, and the New Testament looks at Christ and then looks back at Christ, which we are still doing today. Once Christ came, he fulfilled the Law and the prophets (the old covenant), which was the Old Testament, and established his new covenant through his atonement, which is the New Testament. We still are living in that New Covenant, and need nothing more from Christ than that. The need for anything more is simply not there.
This does not mean that revelation has ceased, as the gift of prophecy is one of the spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. However, the need for further scripture is not there. There are no current situations which the Bible cannot speak to, and we have the revelation of salvation within the Bible. Any prophecy through the gift given by the Spirit is meant to edify and guide the church (1 Corinthians chs 12-14), not to be an office exclusive to a single leader or to be made into additional scripture.
Some non-LDS Christians believe that the Bible contains all religious truth. However, the Bible itself says nothing of the sort. The word Bible never appears in the Bible—for the Bible never refers to itself. Thus all these claims about the Bible are unbiblical. The Bible itself never claims to be perfect, never claims to be sufficient for salvation, and never claims to grant its readers authority to speak or act for God. Rather, such claims are made by those who have lost priesthood authority and have lost direct revelation and, instead of trying to find them again, are trying desperately to maintain that their loss doesn’t matter.
Obviously, Elder Robinson had not closely read the Bible as he made these claims. Let's look at a few scriptures that put a little doubt on his words.
Matthew 24:35
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 
Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
2 Timothy 3:15
and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Obviously, the Bible itself--Jesus himself--says that scripture is God-breathed, alive and active, enduring, and contains the gospel. The simple question, what is the gospel (the good news), is answered here:
1 Corinthians 15: 2-4
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 
The Bible contains these all-important teachings for salvation...obviously. Understanding and accepting this gospel is necessary for salvation. The bible teaches that it is through faith that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Bible presents the gospel. Salvation is therefore completely contained in the Bible, if the reader or hearer of the truth believes it.
As for the question of priesthood, Christ is the only High Priest. The High Priests before Christ were charged with sacrificing animals for the sins of all the people one day of the year, the Day of Atonement, but that sacrifice couldn't actually cleanse sins, it was a representation of the future sacrifice of Christ. When Christ sacrificed himself, he became the High Priest. Since his Spirit is in us and we live our lives dead to the world and alive in Christ as such, we become a royal and holy priesthood through Christ. To examine this, I would urge someone to take a look at the book of Hebrews, particularly chapters 4-8, although the whole book would be best. 1 Peter 2 and the first chapter of Revelation refer to believers as a holy/royal priesthood, and there is no exclusion based on age, gender, or "worthiness." In truth, it is the LDS that lack a true priesthood and are desperately trying to claim otherwise.

The doctrinal exclusion

6 This type of argument claims that since the Latter-day Saints do not always interpret the Bible as other Christians do, we must not be Christians. But, in fact, other denominations also differ among themselves doctrinally, and it is unreasonable to demand that Latter-day Saints conform to a single standard of “Christian” doctrine when no such single standard exists.
Minor disagreements exist. Only salvific doctrines on the Bible, which ARE clear, must be agreed upon. Some of these doctrines include the nature of God, monotheism, the nature of Christ, Christ's atonement on the cross, and salvation. The Mormon church obviously do not agree on these essential doctrines, more or less the minor issues.
For example, the Latter-day Saints are accused of worshiping a “different god” because we do not believe in the traditional Trinity. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (A of F 1:1) as taught in the New Testament. What Latter-day Saints do not believe is the non-Biblical doctrine formulated by the councils of Nicaea (A.D. 325) and Chalcedon (A.D. 451) centuries after the time of Jesus—the doctrine that God is three coequal persons in one substance or essence. We do not believe it because it is not scriptural. As Harper’s Bible Dictionary states: “The formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”
The doctrine of the Trinity actually is Biblical, it is the word Trinity that is not to be found in the New Testament. References for the concept of the Trinity include John 1:1, 14, 18, Phillippians 2:6-11, and many many others. Christ's name Immanuel actually means "God with us." There are many instances in the gospels of Jews, who believe there is only one God and he alone is to be worshiped according to the ten commandments, worshiped Jesus. After doubting Thomas made certain that Jesus really was back from the dead, he called Jesus "my God," and Jesus accepted the title. Jesus also stated that those who had seen him had seen the father. Jesus calls himself by the divine name "I AM" multiple times in the gospels, particularly throughout John (John 8:58, for instance). This is the reason that the leaders of the Jews wished to stone him and kill him more than once, because they understood he was saying he was God (John 5:18). There is also the simple fact of monotheism. If there is only one God, which the Bible is emphatic on (Isaiah 43:10, which exists in the Dead Sea Scrolls from before the supposed great apostasy) then Christ cannot be equal to God or claim to be a god without claiming to be the one and only God. The Bible, such as John 1:18, says that Jesus is that one and only God.
Jesus didn’t teach the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity. The New Testament writers didn’t have any idea of it. The New Testament writers actually did worship Jesus as God and refer to him as God (2 Peter 1:1, 1 John 5:20, Colossians 2:9). Considering their monotheism...well, we've already been over that. The doctrine itself wasn’t invented until centuries later. So one can’t say the Latter-day Saints are not true Christians for not accepting it, unless one also excludes Jesus, his disciples, and the New Testament Church, who similarly did not know or teach it.
Latter-day Saints do believe that God the Father has a physical body. This view is attacked as “non-Christian” by critics who often cite John 4:24, which states in the King James version that “God is a spirit.” However, since there is no indefinite article (a, or an) in the Greek language from which this verse is translated, the consensus among biblical scholars is that there should not be an indefinite article at John 4:24. It should simply read “God is spirit.” In other words, this scripture does not limit God to being only a spirit, but merely includes spirit as one of his attributes. After all, we also read that “God is light” (1 Jn. 1:5) and “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8), and yet no one interprets these verses to mean that God is only light, or God is only love. Certainly, the member of the Godhead called the Holy Ghost is spirit, but that fact tells us nothing about whether or not God the Father has a physical body.
This argument is flawed, as it implies that since being spirit is not his ONLY attribute, that he is not a spirit. That would be akin to saying that since being love is not his ONLY attribute, that he is not love. In fact, it also seems flawed to limit God to a body just because we have bodies. It seems that God could choose what he is or how he presents himself. Additionally, his ability to be present everywhere at once would be impossible in a body such as ours, though it seems the LDS diminish this in God and assign it exclusively to the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, while the Bible makes distinction between God and the Spirit, it is interesting to note that the Spirit is referred to as God's spirit. I would not refer to my spirit and mean something that was not me, so I do not understand why the LDS refer to the Spirit of God and do not mean it to be God, but rather a separate being altogether.
Finally, quite often we hear that Latter-day Saints are not Christians because true Christians believe in salvation by grace, while the Latter-day Saints believe in salvation through our own good works. But this is a misunderstanding. Yes, Latter-day Saints do believe we must serve God with all our “heart, might, mind, and strength” (D&C 4:2). But the Book of Mormon makes perfectly clear that it is impossible for us to completely earn or deserve our blessings from God (Mosiah 2:21, 24); that redemption can never come through individual effort alone, but only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (2 Ne. 2:3, 5–8); and that—after all we can do (Alma 24:11)—we are saved by grace (2 Ne. 10:24; 2 Ne. 25:23).
There it is..."after all we can do." That is impossible according to the scriptures and to logic, since we never can do all we can do, for one. If this merely means that after all of our failed efforts to do all we can do, the grace of God kicks in, there is still a flaw. Isaiah 64:6 says that all of our works are as filthy rags, so relying on filthy rags--a better translation would be menstrual rags (think bloody tampon, gross)--in addition to the saving and perfect work and grace of Jesus Christ seems absolutely ridiculous. 
Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. 
If we boast in what we ourselves have done BEFORE grace, then we are taking credit from Jesus Christ. We are not supposed to be able to do that. Boasting of filthy rags doesn't seem like much to boast about, after all. Instead, Christians belief that we are saved by faith alone, through grace along, through Christ alone (justification), but that we are saved from sins to a new life through the Spirit (sanctification). The changes in a person may not be quick, and none of us will ever be perfect in this life because we still have our sinful nature to combat, but there will be a change and will be spiritual fruits such as those described in Galatians 5. We do not expect to have to obtain this alone, or have the help of the Spirit only when we are doing everything right and are in full and constant repentance, as the Mormon church teaches. Instead, the Spirit dwells in us (John 14:17, Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:22, 2 Timothy 1:14) and there is no indication in scripture that it will leave believers. Through the Spirit, we live in Christ.
Christ did all the work for us. While we were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10) they do not save us. We will be receive reward and punishment based on our works, but only our faith in Christ determines our actual salvation. For instance, someone who goes to hell who was a good person will be punished far less than someone who was a murdered, and someone who goes to heaven but was not receptive to the work of the Spirit in their lives will not be rewarded as richly as someone who sought to live out their beliefs throughout their Christian life. However, because of the nature of being forgiven or not forgiven based on belief in Christ is the prerequisite for heaven and hell, works themselves do not determine whether someone goes to heaven or goes to hell, as opposed to Mormon belief where a combination of works and belief determines the kingdom of heaven a person is placed into.


We have discussed arguments some people use for claiming that Latter-day Saints are not Christians. Notice that not one of these addresses the question of whether we accept Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God and Savior. Our critics don’t address this—the only issue that really matters—for the LDS position here is an unassailable matter of record. Our first article of faith [A of F 1:1] declares our belief in Jesus Christ. We meet every Sunday and partake of the sacrament to renew our faith in and our commitment to Him as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
I have frequently asked non-LDS critics exactly which Book of Mormon teachings about Jesus Christ they disagree with. Invariably the response has been that it isn’t what the Book of Mormon says that is offensive to them—it is the Book of Mormon itself. This is because most non-Christian LDS doctrines aren't contained in the Book of Mormon, and in fact borrows heavily from the Bible. We have issues with the Book of Mormon itself because it is a deceptive gateway into the religion for converts and because it is a book of fiction purported as scripture. Its historical reliability is deplorable, and much of it has been proven simply untrue, such as Native Americans descending from Lamanites. To present it as ancient scripture from prophets when it clearly isn't is deceptive and takes away from the completeness of the Bible. Most anti-Mormons reject the LDS scriptures without knowing or caring what those scriptures actually teach about Christ. You see, it isn’t really the LDS doctrine of Christ that is objectionable; rather, it is the claim that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is God’s word, and that the gospel has been restored to the earth in the latter days.
Both the Book of Mormon as scripture and Joseph Smith as a prophet bear witness to Jesus Christ as Savior. The Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price bear that same great witness, as do all of the modern prophets and apostles. Though all the world may say that Latter-day Saints do not know or love or worship Jesus Christ, the truth is that we do. If this is not enough to be counted as Christian, then that word has lost its meaning.



  1. Excellent blog, all-around. I am glad I found this. I have just left Mormonism (which I was born into) and now put my full faith and trust in Jesus Christ. I love your observations, I could pretty much say "ditto" on every post I've read.

    I would also like to add that it is strange to me that the Book of Mormon people never act like Jews. Where was their conversion to Christ? Where were their Jewish practices? If they left Jerusalem in 600 BC and Lehi was supposedly this righteous leader there, wouldn't he carry those practices along prior to Christ's coming?

    It is pretty indicative of error to me that:
    - Can't find historical evidence of the Book of Mormon people (can't even pinpoint a location); only speak in generic terms that it was the American Indian ancestors
    - Can't find any evidence of Judaism in the Book of Mormon prior to Jesus coming; very odd for a spiritual leader in Jerusalem that supposedly started all of the Book of Mormon people
    - The Book of Mormon mentions Jesus by name 30 times prior to His birth. The Bible doesn't mention Jesus at all by name prior to His birth. (The Bible, of course, prophecies of a Savior and Redeemer in the Old Testament, but they didn't know exactly who it would be.)
    - There are Christians in the Book of Mormon before there was Christ! (Alma 46:15-16 says the soldiers that fought with Captain Moroni were called Christian, but those events happened before Christ even came.)

    I've done some blogging (mostly about whatever my wife and I feel about) regarding our journey at http://formerlysanctioned.blogspot.com/ that you may enjoy. It's a fairly random assortment of whatever dawns on either my wife or I at the time, but I thought you might enjoy it.

  2. I forgot to include a personal observation I wanted to share with you from my own experience in leaving Mormonism.

    When I told a couple of representatives from the bishopric that I don't believe in Joseph Smith and I don't believe in the Book of Mormon, but I do believe in Jesus Christ quite strongly, they told me (among other things) that it would nullify the effects of baptism. That to me speaks volumes.