I’m sure many of you know personally or have met at some point, a Mormon. At the very least, you’ve probably heard people talk about the “bizarre” doctrines of the Mormon faith. In fairness, sometimes these doctrines are exaggerated and inaccurate, but sometimes they’re not. What has recently disheartened me is the surge of thought that equates Mormonism with Christianity. So, are Mormons Christians?A friend of mine recently visited a Mormon church for the first time. In talking about his experience he told me, “What was interesting is that everything said at church was what you would hear at any other [Christian] church.”
What really bothers me is the danger that lies below the surface of his impressions. You see, at first glance much of the language Mormons use to describe Mormonism is very similar to that of the Christian faith, especially in their affirmation of loving Jesus Christ, and their high esteem of moral virtue. It’s not until you probe into the depths of their religion that you see more clearly that Mormonism is drastically different (in major areas of teaching) than Christianity. And more specifically, why Mormonism doesn’t equate to Christianity at all.
I suppose I should acknowledge at this point that the majority of what I know about the Mormon faith comes from a book I read a few months ago. So in no way can I claim to be an avid scholar. I will say however, that if you’ve ever wondered what Mormons actually teach, I highly recommend Andrew Jackson’s “Mormonism Explained: what Latter-day Saints teach & practice.” I thought it was extremely well researched and honest in its explanation of Mormon belief.
In Jackson’s book, I found three irreconcilable differences between Mormonism and Christianity: (All italics are cited in the book.)
1. Mormons teach that the Mormon Church is The One and Only True Church on Earth. In fact, the central message of the LDS Church is that it is the single organized expression of the true New Testament church and the only earthly vehicle of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness. Mormon systematic theologian Bruce McConkie writes, “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…” This teaching excludes all Christian churches from possessing apostolic authority and fullness of the gospel.
2. Mormons teach that God was once a human and that humans have the potential of becoming Gods. Fifth Mormon President and Prophet Lorenzo Snow says this shocking statement: “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become.” Mormons believe that Jesus Christ under the direct authority of Father God created not only this earth but also many other worlds for future humans, who would progress into gods, to inhabit and fill with spirit children. Mormons actually affirm and teach a plurality of gods. This is polytheism.
3. In sharp contrast to Christian belief, Mormonism teaches that the Bible is corrupt, containing errors, and missing God-inspired books and truths. Again, Bruce McConkie writes, “There is no more false or absurd doctrine than the sectarian claim that the Bible contains all of the word of God.” Mormons place more authority and certainty in the Book of Mormon than they do the Bible. The Book of Mormon is thought to be more trustworthy because it is free of errors and contains the fullness of the gospel. I’d like to point out here that not a single person, place, or event unique to the Book of Mormon has been proven to have existed. Contrary to the historicity of the Bible, The Book of Mormon is merely guesswork.
While these doctrines and beliefs expose the wide gap between Mormonism and Christianity, it’s important to remember that we’ve all been created in the image of God. Respect and care for one another as we discuss these fundamental differences is important. My goal in writing this post was not to attack or belittle, but rather to inform and clarify a thought popular in our society. Mormonism is not Christianity.