Friday, November 09, 2007

Are Mormons Christians?

The other day I caught part of a news interview in which a man was discussing his political views about voting for a Mormon. He said he wanted a Christian candidate, and "Mormons aren't Christians. Mormonism is a cult.". That has stuck in my head ever since because it couldn't be farther from the truth.

The term "Mormon" is a nickname that our church has been given by other religions because we believe in additional scripture that is titled "The Book of Mormon". We also believe the Bible to be the word of God, but that point gets overlooked. The real name of our church is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints". I'm not sure how people can read the name of our church and think that we don't believe in Jesus Christ. Do I sound a little frustrated? Maybe that's because I am. One of the things that bothers me the most is when people make statements about our church that aren't true. And it bothers me almost as much when people believe things that are told them by people who don't belong to our religion. Clue number one: if you want to learn about a religion, go to them to ask the questions, not to someone who doesn't approve of them.

Recently I heard a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland who is one of the twelve apostles in our church. (We believe in the same organization that existed in the early church). He said, "In the year A.D. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea to address—among other things—the growing issue of God’s alleged “trinity in unity.” What emerged from the heated contentions of churchmen, philosophers, and ecclesiastical dignitaries came to be known (after another 125 years and three more major councils) as the Nicene Creed, with later reformulations such as the Athanasian Creed. These various evolutions and iterations of creeds—and others to come over the centuries—declared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, imminent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.” They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.

We agree with our critics on at least that point—that such a formulation for divinity is truly incomprehensible. With such a confusing definition of God being imposed upon the church, little wonder that a fourth-century monk cried out, “Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, . . . and I know not whom to adore or to address.” How are we to trust, love, worship, to say nothing of strive to be like, One who is incomprehensible and unknowable? What of Jesus’s prayer to His Father in Heaven that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”?

It is not our purpose to demean any person’s belief nor the doctrine of any religion. We extend to all the same respect for their doctrine that we are asking for ours. (That, too, is an article of our faith.) But if one says we are not Christians because we do not hold a fourth- or fifth-century view of the Godhead, then what of those first Christian Saints, many of whom were eyewitnesses of the living Christ, who did not hold such a view either?

We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer just mentioned, His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephen—to name just four."

Elder Holland went on to say, "A related reason The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is excluded from the Christian category by some is because we believe, as did the ancient prophets and apostles, in an embodied—but certainly glorified—God. To those who criticize this scripturally based belief, I ask at least rhetorically: If the idea of an embodied God is repugnant, why are the central doctrines and singularly most distinguishing characteristics of all Christianity the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the physical Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? If having a body is not only not needed but not desirable by Deity, why did the Redeemer of mankind redeem His body, redeeming it from the grasp of death and the grave, guaranteeing it would never again be separated from His spirit in time or eternity? Any who dismiss the concept of an embodied God dismiss both the mortal and the resurrected Christ. No one claiming to be a true Christian will want to do that."

If you had any doubt that Mormons are Christians before, I hope you understand now that we believe in Jesus Christ. Our whole religion is focused on him. He is the way, the truth and the life. If anyone tells you differently, send them my way and I'll give them an earful. :) I'm sorry that I couldn't include the entire talk here, but I thought I would lose most readers if I did. However, if you are interested in reading the entire talk, please follow this link.


Nene said...

Here's Bruce R. McConkie's answer to that question: "The answer depends on what is meant by Christians. If Christians are people with the defined view that salvation comes only through the complete gospel of Christ, Mormons are truly Christians in the precise and full meaning of the term. If Christians are people (and this is the standard definition of the clergy of the day) who believe in the holy trinity as defined and set forth in the Nicene, Athanasian, and Apostles creeds, meaning that God is a three-in-one nothingness, a spirit essence filling immensity, an incorporeal and uncreated being incapable of definition or mortal comprehension - then Mormons, by a clergy-chosen definition, are ruled out of the fold of Christ.
But if by Christians is meant the saints of God in Antioch and elsewhere who believe and live as they did; if by Christians is meant those who accept Christ as the literal Son of God; who believe that miracles and signs follow true believers; who believe in kingdoms of glory, revelation, the gathering of Israel, and Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthoods; who believe there must be apostles and prophets in the Church; and who believe in all respects as did holy men of old - then Mormons are Christians and they have the only pure and perfect Christianity now on earth. Indeed, Mormonism is pure, unadulterated Christianity, restored anew in all its grandeur and glory." DOCTRINAL NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY, PG. 113


Anonymous said...

I am not a very religous person personally as you know hehe.
However I cant help but find it humorous that all the major religions all have the same fundamental beliefs, and yet cant get along.
However I can understand the term used Cult. The Mormon religion was founded in the U.S. in 1830 AD which compared to other BC relgions which makes it new and diffrent,
Cult when defined in a non religous way is a good term, Cult classic for example.
A 20th century attempt by sociologists to replace "cult" with the term New Religious Movement, was rejected by the public and only partly accepted by the scientific community.
I personally dont see Mormons as a cult the number of them is to high, if there where say only 400 mormons then I would agree.
But if it makes you feel any better all religions started of as a cult by defintion alone.