Skip to main content

FINAL THOUGHTS ON WHY I BELIEVE MORMONS ARE CHRISTIANS: THE IMPLICATIONS OF MY FIVE REASONS


            I have presented five of the many reasons that could be given as to why I feel Latter-day Saints are Christians. I have focused on ways in which Latter-day Saints honor, respect, and reverence Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I have tried to show how these beliefs and practices are consistent with New Testament Christianity. Of course, I am not arguing that if a person is not a member of a church called after Jesus Christ, or if they don’t make formal covenants in Christ name, or if they don’t follow prophets who testify of Christ they are not a Christian. I realize there are plenty of Christians who do none of those things. Rather I am arguing that people who do those things are Christians. Many Christians are no doubt members of churches that are not explicitly named after Christ, or not even members of a church at all. Many Christians do not make formal covenants of any kind, don’t believe in prophets today, or new scripture. Many Christians may not agree with the precise content of the LDS covenant, or the method by which it is made, or the details of LDS unique scripture. But none of that is my point. To effectively illustrate my point, consider the following questions:


  • What kind of Church would call itself after Jesus Christ? Christian or non-Christian? What kind of people would be a part of said Church? Christian or non-Christian?
  • What kind of people would make scared covenants in the name of Jesus Christ? Christian or non-Christian? What kind of people would perform their most sacred acts in the name of Jesus Christ as means of making said covenants? Christian or non-Christian?
  • What kind of scripture testifies of Christ? Christian or non-Christian? What kind of people would accept volumes of new scripture that explicitly testify of Christ? Christian or non-Christian? What kind of people would accept heavily “Christianized” stories about Old Testament patriarchs? and accounts of Christian prophets in ancient America, Christian or non-Christian?
  • What kind of prophets and apostles would repeatedly testify of Christ and his atonement? Christian or non-Christian? What kind of people follow such prophets, Christian or non-Christian?
  • What kind of people believe and teach that it is only through Christ that we can gain salvation? Christian or non-Christian?


            The only non-qualified answer to each of the questions above is “Christian.” It would take a great deal of special pleading to give any other answer. Hence the implications of my five reasons: these are things characteristic of a Christian people, not non-Christians.

            Some critics have argued that Mormon beliefs and practices regarding Jesus Christ are more like other world religions such as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Baha’i, and Buddhism. Richard Abanes, for example, argues that LDS beliefs about Jesus place “Mormonism in a non-Christian light along with every other religious belief system that acknowledges ‘Jesus Christ’ in a decidedly different way than Christians (e.g. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc.).”[1] The question is, then:

            Does any branch of Islam include the name of Jesus Christ in its official title? Is there any Jewish sect making covenants to follow Christ, and taking upon themselves His name? Does Hindu scripture overwhelmingly and explicitly testify of Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer? Are major leaders of the Baha’i faith bearing strong testimony of salvation through Jesus Christ? Do Buddhist believe that salvation comes only in and through Jesus Christ? Can a definite, unqualified “yes” be given for any of these five questions among any other non-Christian group? I doubt it. These are distinctly Christian beliefs and practices, all of which are prominently featured in Mormonism.

            Mormons call their Church after Jesus Christ, they covenant to follow Him, and take His name upon themselves. Their scriptures are dripping with testimony of Jesus Christ, and their modern day prophets and apostles have added their witness of Christ as well. They look to Jesus Christ as the one and only way of salvation. How, then, do LDS beliefs about Christ place them in a “non-Christian light” along the lines of Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism? Where, exactly, does LDS Christology coincide with Buddhism, or Hinduism? Just what is it that Mormons and Muslims have in common with their views of Jesus? What beliefs about Christ do the Baha’i have in common with Latter-day Saints? I am no expert on world religions, but I do not think that any other religious system more closely parallels the LDS beliefs regarding Jesus of Nazareth than that of mainstream, orthodox Christianity.

Final Conclusion
      
            I have tried to show how illogical it is to insist that a group who believes and practices the way Mormons do is not Christian. Just how successful I have been in this endeavor is for you – the individual reader – to determine. These are the things that I feel the critics must find a way to explain before they can be even close to convincing in their case against Mormons as Christians. They must engage these details of our faith and account for them; explain how a group that calls itself after Christ, covenants in his name, has unique scripture to testify of him, prophets who testify of him, and believe in him as the only means of salvation can properly be classified as “non-Christian.” They simply cannot causally dismiss these obviously Christian beliefs – which are at the heart of LDS worship – in favor of defining Mormons by the secondary views which Latter-day Saints hold that some might consider as “less orthodox.” Until the critics can come to grips with these decidedly Christian beliefs that are so prominent in the LDS Church, their claims that Mormons are not Christians simply ought not to be taken seriously.


[1] Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods – A History of the Mormon Church (New York City, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), pg. 391

Comments

  1. Nice work, Neal.

    It seems the real controversy over accepting Momons as Christians is like the controversy in college football over "BCS" and "non-BCS" teams.

    By designation, 120 teams are Football Bowl Subdivision teams. But when it comes to designing a system that decides the national champion, a select group took it upon themselves to qualify which teams should be part of that system.

    Whether you are christian or not is up to you, not some other group of people. If you choose to be christian, then you need to make sure your beliefs and methods or worship support that.

    Mormons have done that. The rest of the Christian society should embrace them, not try and ostricize them.

    Christian religions are like automobiles. There are so many different makes and models, but the nuiances between them are not so great that you can't tell any reasonable person that the Chevy Bolt is not a car, but a Dodge Charger is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have another perspective on this issue in my analysis of a part of Jacob 5.

    http://scriptoriumblogorium.blogspot.com/2011/12/jacob-5-grafting-back-in-mother-tree.html

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Nephite History in Context 4: The Iron Dagger of King Tutankhamun

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth contribution to my new series Nephite History in Context: Artifacts, Inscriptions, and Texts Relevant to the Book of Mormon. Check out the really cool (and official, citable) PDF version here. To learn more about this series, read the introduction here. To find other posts in the series, see here.
The Iron Dagger of King Tutankhamun
Background
The discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 was a worldwide sensation, and to this day is widely regarded as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all-time due to the veritable treasure trove of artifacts found inside. The treasure was so great that to this day many of the items have yet to be studied. Likewise, Tutankhamun (ca. 1336–1327 bc) remains the best-known Pharaoh of Egypt in popular culture today, but details about his actual reign and accomplishments are still generally unknown among the public. Some are aware that he ascended to the throne as a mere child, about 8 years old, but few r…

Nephite History in Context 3: Vered Jericho Sword

Editor’s Note: This is the third contribution to my new series Nephite History in Context: Artifacts, Inscriptions, and Texts Relevant to the Book of Mormon. Check out the really cool (and official, citable) PDF version here. To learn more about this series, read the introduction here. To find other posts in the series, see here.
Vered Jericho Sword
Background
Vered Jericho was a small ancient Israelite fortress first excavated in the winter of 1982 by archaeologist Avraham Eitan. It’s located roughly 3.7 miles (6 km) south of Jericho proper, on the northern side of Wadi es-Suweid. The walls still stand over 6 and half feet tall (2 m) and nearly 3 feet (0.9 m) wide, with two towers on each corner flanking the gate. Inside the fort is a courtyard and two dwelling structures. The fort may have also had cultic or ritual functions as a “high place” (beit bamah). It dates to the late seventh to early sixth century BC, and was destroyed by fire, quite likely in either the Babylonian siege of …

Responding to the New Video on Nahom as Archaeological Evidence for the Book of Mormon

Many of my (few) readers have probably already seen the new video by Book of Mormon Central on Nahom as archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, starring my good friend (and co-author on a related paper) Stephen Smoot. If you haven’t, check it out:


As usual, comments sections wherever this video is shared have been flooded by Internet ex-Mormons insisting this not evidence for the Book of Mormon. I’ve actually had a few productive conversations with some reasonable people who don’t think Nahom is, by itself, compelling evidence—and I can understand that. But the insistence that Nahom is not evidence at all is just, frankly, absurd. So I’ll just go ahead and preempt about 90% of future responses to this post by responding to the most common arguments against Nahom/NHM now:
1. The Book of Mormon is false, therefore there can be no evidence, therefore this is not evidence. First, this is circular reasoning. It assumes the conclusion (Book of Mormon is false) which the evidence pre…