Is Mormonism Christian?

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This is a question that irks Mormons to no-end, “is Mormonism Christian?”. I honestly understand the frustration it must cause. If you would like a respectful and well-reasoned answer from an Evangelical perspective I would recommend Chapter 9 of “The New Mormon Challenge.” You might think the question is totally stupid, but at least you can have an honest answer without flippant accusations of Satanic and cultic behavior. I’ll honestly admit that most Evangelical Christians don’t know enough about Mormonism to give a good answer.

Standing Together Ministries is giving away FREE copies of chapter 9, “Is Mormonism Christian?” by Craig Blomberg. Just click on the link and request your own copy.

I don’t expect a single Mormon anywhere to walk away from reading it saying “Oh, I guess he’s right, we’re not really Christian.” But I do think that Mormons can walk away saying “Finally, I understand why Evangelicals don’t think we’re Christian.”

There is likely going to be A LOT of comments suggesting why Mormonism is or isn’t Christian. I think the chapter from the New Mormon Challenge is the BEST answer any non-LDS is going to be able to give. I’m tempted to close the comments section because I don’t think many will actually comment on Blomberg’s essay, but I think discussion is healthy. So, go for it!

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27 thoughts on “Is Mormonism Christian?

  1. My problem is that Evangelicals really, really, don’t own Christianity. It basically just isn’t theirs to define. Their reasoning may be great and compelling, but it doesn’t change the fact that nobody empowered Evangelicals to start handing out Christianity membership cards and defining who was in the club or out of it.

    At the same time, labels are functions of language only. If, according to Evangelicals, Mormons aren’t Christians, then who cares? The label of “Christian” or “non-Christian” changes not one iota of what actually happens in the Mormon church or what Mormons believe or practice. You can call them Zoroastrians if you want, but it doesn’t change their beliefs or practices.

  2. Totally agree. In fact I disagree with ANY attempt to define “Christian” solely as “Evangelical”. The best arguments for why Mormonism may not be properly defined as Christian come from a historical context of what Christianity has been doctrinally known as for nearly 2,000 years.

    I agree that even if Mormons were to accept the argument that they aren’t Christian, it wouldn’t change any bit of Mormonism. (in fact my favorite LDS thinking is “you’re right, we’re not Christian as it’s currently known, we’re something much better.”) The reason non-LDS Christians so often get bent out of shape about it is that they don’t want public confusion. Just as LDS don’t want public confusion with polygamous groups.

  3. The Bible, God’s Word alone, defines Christianity. If you hold to God as described and defined in the Bible, as well as to the Biblical descriptions of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, etc…, and have placed your trust and faith in Christ (again, as defined solely by the Bible alone) and show evidence of that saving faith through your works (not that they save you, but that they show you’re saved), then THAT is Christianity.

    I agree that nobody can define Christianity in and of themselves, but you MUST, and can only, look to the Bible for the definition.

    Since Mormons don’t believe as stated above, then they cannot be defined as Christian. Does it change what they believe? No, as has already been stated by other posters above. But it does change how others may view them, and the words associated with certain groups.

  4. None of us are Christians (including those that define Christianity by Bible standards) UNTIL Christ claims us (or not) at judgment day. If you (or I) end up on his left hand (those goats who will soon be cast out) it doesn’t matter how much we claimed to the Christian in this life.

    The only way to be on His right hand and counted among His sheep (and hence be Christian) is by doing the good things and avoiding the bad things so you (and I) don’t hear from Him “I never knew you, depart from me”.

  5. Thank you so much for the kind words. I hope the chapter can continue to help to many people. Watch for the forthcoming Brazos Press book co-authored by Robert Millet and Gerald McDermott, which is a kind of expanded and more sophisticated follow-up to what Stephen Robinson and I did a decade ago. I’ve read the manuscript and recommend it highly. On a very popular level Millet and Greg Johnson have a transcript of one of their public conversations/debates, with some added material, coming out with Monkfish. For those who a want a simpler, livelier introduction that will now be the place to start.

  6. The Bible, God’s Word alone, defines Christianity. If you hold to God as described and defined in the Bible, as well as to the Biblical descriptions of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, etc…, and have placed your trust and faith in Christ (again, as defined solely by the Bible alone) and show evidence of that saving faith through your works (not that they save you, but that they show you’re saved), then THAT is Christianity.

    If that’s Christianity, then you made it up, because it doesn’t say any of that in the Bible.

  7. The problem is that the Bible is interpreted differently by every sect of Christianity. The bible both supports the evangelical definition of Christ and the Mormon definition or nature of Christ. Why do you think there are so many different Christian faiths around? Because the Bible is not cut and dry, there is a lot of room for interpretation. Certainly the Bible has all of the truth in it, but that does not mean that it is clear.

    This where Mormons feel they have a stronger claim on their doctrine. Mormons don’t rely on one witness alone, but on 3 the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and modern-day revelation. An argument is always stronger with 3 witnesses than one. The beautiful thing is that all 3 LDS witnesses testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. They testify of Christ’s divinity. It is unequivocal.

    I have a Mormon Q&A at http://mydryfly.wordpress.com/mormon-qa/ . Check it out.

  8. Thanks for stopping by Dr. Blomberg. We’ll definitely keep an eye out for the new book. Your book with Steve Robinson definitely inspired a new day in dialogue.

  9. Isn’t there a place somewhere in the vast internet that adequately and respectfully explains why evangelicals have decided Mormons aren’t Christian? To comment on this post, we have to give our personal address to an evangelical group, wait for the brochure to come in the mail, read it, and then comment. That could take a month.

    But reading the post made me want to comment NOW!

  10. I’ve avoided the topic because I don’t think it bears all that much fruit. As Kullervo points out, if I convinced you that you weren’t Christian, it wouldn’t change anything in your practice.

    For a non-direct answer, see this post about essential Christian doctrine: https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2007/01/10/doctrine-twisting-in-the-wind/

    I’ll try and see if I can find a place on the internet that does as fine a job as Dr. Blomberg. I don’t think you need to worry about giving Standing Together your address though. They are distinctly not anti-Mormon.

  11. “None of us are Christians (including those that define Christianity by Bible standards) UNTIL Christ claims us (or not) at judgment day. If you (or I) end up on his left hand (those goats who will soon be cast out) it doesn’t matter how much we claimed to the Christian in this life.” (quoted by ed42)

    Ed42, this is not true. What you pose here is that we can’t be sure until the judgment day, which goes completely against the teachings of the NT that we can be SURE of our salvation, that we have a blessed hope to look forward to, among other things. Heck, if we can’t be sure that we’ll even be on His right hand, what kind of hope is that? How sure does that make us? I agree, it doesn’t matter how much we claim to be Christians, but some can indeed legitimately claim to be Christians, evidenced by their life.

    The only way to be on His right hand and counted among His sheep (and hence be Christian) is by doing the good things and avoiding the bad things so you (and I) don’t hear from Him “I never knew you, depart from me”. (quoted by ed42)

    Again, ed42, this is contrary to Scripture. This is almost a Muslim way of thinking. That unless the scales are tipped 51% to the good, you won’t make it. We are not saved by our works, rather our works are evidence of our salvation, which is a free gift from God. We all sin, both Christians and non-Christians, so it is not each individual sin that will cause God to say that – it is if we have not repented of our sins and given our life to Christ and made Him our Savior.

  12. Kullervo,

    The Bible does not explicity define Christianity (in terms of a single verse giving a definition). But Christianity is most certainly implicity defined, based upon the tenets of the faith as outlined in Scripture. And everything I said is CLEARLY found in Scripture. I hope that’s not what you’re disagreeing about; if so, I’d be more than happy to point out Scripture to back up everything that I said.

  13. Swint, the problem is that not all interpretations are correct. The Bible does NOT support both the Christian and Mormon definitions of Christ. Logic would show that to not be true. If the 2 definitions are different, then Scripture wouldn’t support both of them, or there would be 2 different types of Christ in the Bible, and that is obviously not the case. No, Mormons have interpreted Scripture the way they want to in order to support the LDS beliefs.

    And more witnesses is only better if the witnesses are credible. Smith, the BOM, modern-day revelation – all are not credible, by any stretch. Look at the history of Smith – a lying, deceiving, criminal. Look at the BOM – virtually no extra-scriptural evidence to support it (history, archaeology, language, etc…) And modern-day revelation has changed too many times for it to be relevant. If modern-day revelation were true, then God would have to have changed His mind many times about certain issues, and that is not the case, according to the Bible (of course, just one of thousands of differences between Mormonism and the Bible).

    No, the broad umbrella of “just a different interpretation” won’t work for this.

  14. You can be a Christian. I will be a “disciple” of Christ, unless of course that term is taken also. Is “follower” taken?

    All jesting aside, I ordered the pamphlet. I am interested in a more concise answer.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the early Creedal edicts have influence upon the points of doctrine that most Christian denominations affirm today? They may be based on the New Testament scriptures, but if there is a denial that the evolving tenets found in the Creeds had zero influence upon early then later Christianity then I politely call BS. I really don’t believe the statement from Brad that says, “The Bible, God’s Word alone, defines Christianity.”

  15. OK Austin, what DOES define Christianity then? Or do you believe that a definition of what a true Christian is can’t be found?

  16. I believe the Bible does define a Christian, but I do not believe it has solely defined Christianity today.

  17. Anyone,

    Please tell me, do Protestants consider Catholics Christian? I know the Catholic Bible contains extra Biblical records. The Catholics practice a lot of outward ordinances and practices than the Mormons. The Catholics pray to Saints not just God. (From my understanding of Catholics- feel free to correct me)

    One of the doctrines the Catholics believe in is the Trinity which is shared by all non-LDS Christians.

    Is the nature of the Godhead/Trinity the deciding factor? Was not the Trinity decided at the Creedal gatherings?

    So without sounding offensive, who are Christians? I don’t think anyone really knows. My opinion is I don’t think Christians are even Christians if they are limited to a definition.

  18. Please tell me, do Protestants consider Catholics Christian?

    Many Protestants do not. I think they are wrong.

    Seriously, though; Protestants are a pretty heterogenous bunch. It’s hard to lump them all together on very many issues at all, even within the same individual denominations.

  19. Yes, Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants are all considered sects of Christianity. Theologically they all properly fit the definition of “Christian” (Whether or not Mormonism does, is another matter). This is because they all agree on essential doctrine. For a list of essential Christian doctrine visit this link.

    https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2007/01/10/doctrine-twisting-in-the-wind/

    I know that LDS like to say that a lot of classical Christian doctrine was decided as a compromise at the council of Nicea. This is simple not at all historically accurate. The Nicene Creed does in fact describe Christianity quite well, but it’s basic points were not invented there. They were simply codified and (quite nearly unanimously) agreed upon there. For LDS (President Hinckley included) to say that our doctrine was formed out of legislative compromise is bearing false witness against us.

    I’d also like to point out that there is a BIG distinction between is a Mormon (an individual) a Christian and is Mormonism (a theological idea or viewpoint) Christian.

  20. “They were simply codified and (quite nearly unanimously) agreed upon there.”

    This makes the point for the LDS, it took 300 years to agree upon doctrine. Their word is not law. Besides the Nicene creed was far from near unanimous. If it was it would at least make some sense, but anyone who has tried to read it likely finishe confused. Also, who says they or anyother modern Christian organization has the final say on what Christianity believes. People always say “it says so in the Bible” when asked about a particular doctrine. The problem is that the Bible is interpreted differently by nearly everyone. If the Bible were clear on the doctrines of Christianity, we would not have thousands of Christian sects, nor would we need conferences to dictate what the actual doctrine is. I for one, appreciate the fact that God still cares about us enough to give us a Prophet like in times of old to give us his will for problems today and that he gave us additional scripture that supports the Bible and confirms the divinity of Christ.

    I have never understood why people who claim to WORSHIP an individual such as Jesus Christ, will so quickly disregard a book that claims to have more of his teachings without hardly a passing glance. I would think that anyone with deep convictions about the Savior would crave to learn as much about him as possible. Do not academic historians who, say, study Abraham Lincoln, not at least read every thing they can find about Lincoln and then determine its usefulness. This has always baffled me. You worship him for crying out loud. But usually what happens is someone hears oh, the Book of Mormon, and says that is hogwash, (usually a pastor or someone told them to avoid it). It doesn’t matter to them that it might give some new insight into the life and mission of the Savior. All they know is that it was produced by those crazy Mormons so it can’t be the word of God. Ok, sorry, I am not accusing any of you of this, for all I know you have put an honest study in of the BOM, but 99 times out of 100, an individual who denigrates has not given it a chance. A sad time we live if we believe that God no longer reveals himself to his children. Anyway, I have just needed to get that off of my chest for a while. I didn’t mean to tick any of you off. Sorry if I did.

  21. So Swint, have you read everything published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses? What about the Christian Scientist? Branch Davidians? They all have new scriptures that testify of Christ. Don’t you love Jesus? (just poking you a little)

    Honestly I think people can evaluate the source before they read the revelation. I wouldn’t expect any scholar to read what I might have written about Abraham Lincoln, I’ve got no credibility there. How many school children have written reports on Lincoln. Do you really think scholars should read all of their work? I think if Christians are going to engage in discussion with LDS they need to at the very least read the Book of Mormon, but the rest of them can take credible people’s word for it that it’s not authentic. As it stands, the LDS church has yet to produce anything other than spiritual experience which validates the Book of Mormon to be a real, historical work of antiquity.

    This makes the point for the LDS, it took 300 years to agree upon doctrine.

    Again, this is a distortion. These things weren’t hanging around in the air until the Nicene Creed was written. They were well established beforehand.

    Yes, there are some things that are up in the air and biblical interpretation can change how we view them. But there are other things which the Bible is clear about. We hold fast to those things which we are certain about and we hold loosely to those things that are up for interpretation. We don’t NEED to be certain about ALL things (something even the LDS prophet can’t offer).

  22. Well, actually, there is a bit of evidence that the “pure Christianity” of Christ and the Apostles was being lost or altered even as the Apostles still lived (some of Paul’s own Epistles were largely written with the aim of combating falsehoods that were creeping into the church). This was inevitable given the geographic spread of various congregations.

    The council of Nicea was an attempt to check this doctrinal waywardness, but, according to the Mormons, still a human and flawed attempt nonetheless.

    But I’m not sure this is really a fruitful avenue of discussion. I doubt we’re going to win any converts here on either side and the original intent of the post wasn’t necessarily a general debate on the merits of the Mormon idea of Apostasy anyway. I’m sure Dando and others have intelligent reasons for believing that the Nicene Creed represents the most valid statement of “true historical Christianity” that we currently have. I don’t see him being won over by arguments questioning the integrity of that process. Likewise, I am unlikely to be swayed by arguments that point out Joseph Smith’s own personal faults and failings. I believe that flawed as he may have been, like the stammering Moses of old, he was still God’s chosen representative and a true prophet. I’m sure Dando similarly sees enough of the divine in the Nicene Creed (and 100s of years of Christian thought, I might add) to have confidence in its findings as well.

    The question here really isn’t about who is right, but whether we both ought to be acknowledged for our respective beliefs in Christ and what affiliations we can expect to be a part of as a result of those beliefs.

  23. Incidentally Dando, I followed that link you provided above and read the “essentials” listed there.

    Honestly, just about every normal practicing Mormon I know believes those statements to be true as you have them displayed. Every last one of them.

    What we don’t agree with, are the footnotes and qualifications many Christian scholars and ministers keep trying to attach those statements.

    For instance, just like in statement #1, we believe in one God – three persons. Other Christians may demand that we physically merge all three into one physical/spiritual being, but we Mormons see it as a “unity of purpose.” I don’t see how this interpretation departs from the simple language of statement #1 without implying extra meaning that just isn’t spelled out in the statement.

  24. I doubt we’re going to win any converts here on either side . . .

    . . . The question here really isn’t about who is right, but whether we both ought to be acknowledged for our respective beliefs in Christ and what affiliations we can expect to be a part of as a result of those beliefs.

    Excellent point! And the reason I started this blog. That’s my main hope for the blog, that we understand one another. I’m really not after converting anyone. If you’re honestly pursuing Jesus, he’ll convince you that I’m right. 🙂

    I followed that link you provided above and read the “essentials” listed there.

    Honestly, just about every normal practicing Mormon I know believes those statements to be true as you have them displayed. Every last one of them.

    Great. I don’t doubt it, but I’ve met enough LDS that do have a problem with several of those to know that your opinion isn’t universal. I hope I can be proven wrong.

  25. Brad, go to borders and buy – Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman. It is one of the few JS books that tries to give an objective look at the life of JS. It is not published by the Church, and it is not published by any group blatantly opposed to the Church. It is written by an LDS Member who is also a history professor at Columbia University. The book challenged me on a couple of sections and strengthened me in others. It is as unbiased a book as you will find on JS. I would recommend reading that before you buy into all of the stuff published by churches and organization bent on stopping the spread of Mormonism. I would also recommend it to any Mormon who wants to learn the life of JS outside of what is published by the Church (which, of course, is all positive, little negative). You won’t regret it. http://www.dryflypolitics.com

  26. Dando,

    I have not read everything published by them, but I bet I can honestly say that I have read more published by most of those faiths (I haven’t read anything by the Branch Davidians, nor do I plan to) than most “anti-mormon’s” (I don’t really like that term) have of the Mormon church. Most evangelicals who oppose the church and say the BOM is a blatant lie have never read it, or if they have, have only read enough to say they have, and don’t really ever give it an objective read.

    For the record, I used to read the “Watchtower” almost monthly, and I am in the middle of reading the Koran. I am not an expert on religion, but I at least like to be informed and attempt to take as objective a look at them as I can. I feel that that is more than can be said of those who just ignorantly spout that JS was a fraud and BOM is a fraud and God no longer reveals himself to us. I am not accusing any of you of this, but experience has taught me much of this to be true among opponents of the Church. If you have given an honest read to the BOM and don’t buy into, more power to you. http://www.dryflypolics.com

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