Many scholars and historians who have studied Mormonism, including Jan Shipps, have concluded that it is an entirely new and distinct religious tradition (a conclusion I do not entirely disagree with). Yet, some of them (Shipps included) still maintain that Mormonism is a form of Christianity. This seems rather confusing – how could it be a new religious tradition all its own, and yet still be a form of Christianity? Perhaps this part of the reason why Shipps views this as a complicated question, without a straightforward answer (See Jan Shipps, “Is Mormonism Christian? Reflections on a Complicated Question,” BYU Studies 33:3 , pg. 438-465).
Anyway, yesterday I was reflecting on this seeming contradiction (as I personally hold a similar view) when the thought occurred. Perhaps it analogous to how Christianity sprung up out of Judaism and became a distinctly different, new religious tradition, yet both Christianity and Judaism both are Abrahamic religious traditions. Or, in other words, while they are separate religions, they are both forms of religion rooted in the Abrahamic covenant and tradition (as is Islam, another distinctly unique religious tradition). Likewise, although Orthodox Christianity and Mormonism are two separate religions, both are forms of religion centered and focused on Jesus Christ as our Savior, therefore both represent different forms the Christian religious tradition.
Anyway, just an idea which I felt I should share. More study would need to go into it before a serious conclusion could be reached.
Any thoughts? Agree, disagree? Let me know what you think.