With fear and trembling I offer this post. First off, I want to make it clear that this is not my battle. I’m not overly interested in pushing this conversation or convincing LDS of my point of view. But I do seek greater understanding and I want to find a way to explain myself clearly.
Evangelicals and Mormons often squabble over a battle on whether or not Mormonism is Christian. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mormonism definitely belongs to Christianity, it didn’t come out of Hinduism, Buddhism or any other major religion. But the question is, at what point does a faith change a major religion’s core tenets so drastically that it no longer resembles its birth religion.
Mormons do not understand how the rest of Christianity can claim that Mormonism is not Christian. I wonder if this might be more helpful in explaining our (the non-LDS) viewpoint? My recent post on “Worshiping Jesus” pointed out that there doesn’t seem to be a universal Mormon understanding on whether or not Jesus is to be worshiped as God (capital G). Instead (many) Mormons exclusively worship the Father and hold Jesus as one of many gods (small g).
I would contend that historically and traditionally, Christians have always recognized Jesus as God (capital G) and have always worshiped him as such. To worship Christ is to be Christian. If someone does not worship Christ as God how can they properly be called “Christian”? In as much as MormonISM does not teach people to worship Christ as God it is not a Christian religion.
There are some Mormons who do worship Christ as God, I’m content to say that they are Christian (though heretical). But Mormons who do not worship Christ as God are no more Christian than Muslims (who recognize and revere Jesus as an important agent of God). At the point in time that the LDS church clearly recognizes Jesus as God (capital G) and instructs its members to worship him as such I will be willing to concede that it is Christian (though still heretical on many other points).
If you were to ask me “Why don’t you think Mormons are Christian?” and I responded “Because they don’t worship Jesus as God” would that be an explanatory statement?
* I should also clarify that I believe only Jesus has the right and power to define an individual as a true Christian. The point of this conversation is to set theological definitions in a meaningful way and to determine if the LDS church as an organization fits the definition of “Christian”.