It is, to me, perhaps one of the greatest ironies that all the extra scripture Mormons have added to their cannon is one of the principal arguments against their status as Christians, when, in fact, the content of those scriptures is one of the very best evidences for their Christian status.

Scripture Testifies of Christ

            At the beginning of His mortal ministry, Jesus read a passage from Isaiah in the synagogue of His home town. Upon finishing His reading, He closed the book and declared, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:21) Later, as He contended with some Pharisees, He told them to “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39). He promised others that “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) After His resurrection, He walked the road to Emmaus with two disciples and “expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)

            Philip taught others of Jesus through the scriptures (see Acts 8:32-35), and Apollos convinced some Jews that Jesus was the Christ using scripture (see Acts 18:28). Paul taught that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection were all according to the scriptures (see 1 Cor. 15:3-4), and he told Timothy that the scriptures could make him “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15)

            What we learn from these passages is that Jesus taught – and His disciples truly believed – that the ultimate purpose of scripture was to testify of Himself (Jesus Christ). Thus, for Christians, all scripture testifies of Jesus Christ and leads others towards Him.  All of the additional volumes of Latter-day Saint scripture are saturated with testimony of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

            In the title page to the Book of Mormon, it states that one of its central purposes is for “the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.” Of the book’s 6,607 verses, 3,925 (more than half) make direct reference to Jesus Christ. That makes it an average of one reference to Christ every 1.7 verses.[1] I will only cite two examples here for brevities sake:

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26)

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12)

            These are just a small sampling of the many, many powerful testimonies of Christ given throughout the pages of the Book of Mormon. There are several full chapter length (and multi-chapter length) sermons, discourses, prophecies, miraculous conversion stories, and other powerful experiences which all focus on faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement as their central theme (see, for example, 1 Nephi 10-11; 19, ; 2 Nephi 2; 6; 9-11; 25-26; 31-33; Jacob 4; Enos 1; Mosiah 2-5; 15-16; 18; 27; Alma 5; 7; 8; 11-12; 18-22; 24-25; 30; 33-34; 36-38; 40-42; Helaman 5; 8; 16; 3 Nephi 1; 7; Mormon 9; Ether 3; 12; Moroni 7-8; 10). And of course, one mustn’t forget the books “crowning event,” Christ’s personal ministry to the Book of Mormon peoples (see 3 Nephi 9-28)

            I cannot overstate, nor over emphasize just how powerfully the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ. One cannot fully understand, nor fully appreciate, the Book of Mormon’s witness of Christ until they have read it themselves, cover to cover, focusing on its message of redemption through Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is a truly “Christian” volume of scripture.

Doctrine and Covenants

            While the primary purpose of the Doctrine and Covenants is not to testify of Jesus Christ, but rather “for the establishment and regulation of the kingdom of God on the earth in the last days” (Explanatory Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants), it still, as scripture, testifies of Christ and helps point the way to Him. It lacks the full Christ-centered chapters, as many of its sections focus more on Church organization, policies, procedures, and the roles of the priesthoods. Despite this fact, though, there is much in the Doctrine and Covenants which teaches and testifies of Jesus Christ, and calls men to come unto Him.

            Scattered throughout the Doctrine and Covenants are references to many attributes, roles, and characteristics of Jesus Christ. It identifies Him as the Creator (see D&C 29:30-31; 38:1-3; 45:1; 76:24), as our Advocate with the Father (see D&C 29:5; 32:3; 45:3-5; 62:1; 110:4; 38:4), as the Mediator of the new covenant (see D&C 76:69; 107:19), as Jehovah (see D&C 110:1-3) the Great I AM (see D&C 29:1; 38:1; 39:1), as the Head of the Church (see D&C 5:14; 39:13; 133:4, 16), as the light which shines in darkness (see D&C 6:21; 10:58; 11:11), the light and life of the world (see D&C 45:7; 84:45; 93:9), as the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end (see D&C19:1; 35:1; 38:1; 45:7), the Lamb of God (see D&C 88:106; 109:79; 133:18; 133:55-56),  the Only Begotten of the Father (see D&C 49:5; 76:13, 23, 25-26, 35, 57), the Son of God (see D&C 35:2; 36:8; 38:1), the Lord (see D&C 10:70; 15:1; 17:9; 18:33, 47), and God (see D&C 18:33, 47; 19:16-18;), our Savior (see D&C 20:1, 4, 30-31; 43:34; 138:60), and Redeemer (see D&C 10:70; 15:1; 16:1; 19:1; 27:1; 18:47). 

            It describes His power (see D&C 19:1-3; 76:10, 24; 88:7, 13; 93:17), His humble submission to the will of His Father (see D&C 19:2, 19, 24; 76:43, 107), His oneness with the Father (see D&C 35:2; 50:43) His great love for the world (see D&C 34:3; 138:3), and the terrible suffering He endured on our behalf (see D&C 19:16-18), and how we are justified and sanctified through His grace (see D&C 20:30-31). It declares that He overcame the world (see D&C 50:41; 76:107; 88:106), and ascended to His Father (see D&C 20:24) to rule and reign forever and ever (see D&C 20:24; 60:4; 76:108).

            These powerful Christian concepts are often given as first person descriptions from Christ Himself. While given as modern scripture, dealing with contemporary issues, the message of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ permeates throughout the Doctrine and Covenants’ many revelations.

Pearl of Great Price

            The Pearl of Great Price contains a few selections of different materials. As such, it does not exactly flow like a single volume of scripture. It contains some excerpts from Joseph Smith’s translation work on the Bible, his translation of some Egyptian papyri, and some excerpts from his personal and Church history.

            The largest portion of the volume deals with the Old Testament, so it would seem to naturally follow that Jesus Christ is not nearly as explicit here as He is in the other volumes just examined. However, such a conclusion would not be completely accurate.

            It must be remembered that the “scriptures” which Jesus and His apostles referred to (which they believed testified of Christ) was the Old Testament writings available to them in their day. What we have in the Pearl of Great Price are stories of four Old Testament patriarchs – Adam, Enoch, Abraham, and Moses – which have been heavily infused with Christian concepts. 

Adam: According to the Book of Moses, Adam was taught to make sacrifices as type for the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and was taught to do everything in the name of the Son (see Moses 5:1-9), he was baptized in the name of Christ (see Moses 6:52, 64-65) and taught those precepts to his children (see Moses 5:10-15; Moses 6:54-62). As you can see, the story of Adam as it is found in the Pearl of Great Price has strong and prominent Christian concepts. These concepts are not even subtle – but very direct and straightforward, which is not what you would expect to find in a non-Christian retelling of the biblical account of Adam and Eve.

Enoch: The bible gives us seven verses on Enoch (see Gen. 5: 18-24), but his story in the Book of Moses is much more detailed and includes several Christian themes. Some of the afore mentioned information on Adam and his Christianized story is given to us in a sermon from Enoch (see Moses 6:43-68). Enoch is also told by God to perform Christian baptisms (Moses 7:11), given a vision where he sees angels bearing testimony of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (see Moses 7:27), Christ performing the atonement (see Moses 7:47-56), and the second coming of Jesus Christ (see Moses 7:59-62). Here in the Pearl of Great Price, that little seven verse narrative is expanded into a touching and strongly Christian themed story of God’s love for his creations.

Abraham: The story of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price is the one which has been least influenced by Christian ideas, yet there are a few traces of Christian influence which testify of Christ. When Abraham is given the Abrahamic covenant (see Abraham 2:8-11), Jehovah identifies the covenant as the “Gospel” (Abraham 2:10), and says that through Abraham “shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” (Abraham 2:11) After which, Abraham speaks of “our rock and our salvation” (Abraham 2:16). Abraham also sees a vision of the pre-mortal life, wherein the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) volunteers to be sent as our Savior and Redeemer (see Abraham 3:23-28).[2] Although the Book of Abraham does not testify of Christ nearly so boldly as what we see in the stories of Adam and Enoch (and, as we will see, Moses), we still find that reference to Christ and His Gospel are made in the Book of Abraham. Again, this is not what one would expect to find if this were a non-Christian version of the Abrahamic tradition.

Moses: The stories of Adam and Enoch are provided to us through the account of Moses’ vision (see Moses 5-7), so their teachings of Christ can also be attributed to Moses. In the opening chapter of the Book of Moses, he is told to pray in Christ’s name (Moses 1:19) and does just that to combat the powers of Satan (see Moses 1:21), he is told he is in the image of Christ (see Moses 1:6), and that it was through Christ that the world was created (see Moses 1:32-33). The Genesis creation account is then recounted (Moses 2-3; cf Gen. 1-2), but with frequent and explicit reference to Christ’s role in the creation process (see Moses 2:1, 26-27; 3:18). Moses then sees, as did Abraham, the pre-motal Christ volunteer to be our redeemer (see Moses 4:1-3). Once again, then, we see that the classical biblical account has had major Christian teachings added to it in the Pearl of Great Price.

            Whether or not one actually believes that these kinds of Christian doctrines were known by Adam, Enoch, Abraham, or Moses, the point is that non-Christians would almost certainly not have added them to the stories of these prominent Jewish patriarchs. These are clearly Christian versions of their stories.

            Other than the Old Testament era works of the Book of Moses and Book of Abraham, the Pearl of Great Price includes Joseph Smith – Matthew, which is Matthew 24 with some additional insights from Smith (extracted from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible). Just like the standard King James Version of Matthew 24, this prophesies of the second coming of Christ. Then there is Joseph Smith – History, wherein Smith records his testimony of his First Vision, in which he sees the Father and the Son (see Joseph Smith – History 1:16-19). The final section is called the Articles of Faith, which are thirteen tenets of LDS belief which Joseph Smith wrote, several of which mention Christ (see Articles of Faith 1: 1, 3, 4, and 10).

Conclusion of Part 3

            As the biblical passages cited above demonstrate, the New Testament Christians believed that scripture was meant to testify of Christ. As the LDS unique passages cited above demonstrate, LDS scripture is absolutely saturated with testimonies and teachings of Jesus Christ. Hence, I submit that Mormons are Christians.

Other Reasons

[1] Susan Easton Black, Finding Christ through the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 1987), pg. 16-18.
[2] Certainly it could be argued that such a vision demonstrates that Abrahams story has been “Mormonized” rather than “Christianized,” however, the point to remember is that we are only interested in seeing that these stories testify of Christ – for that is the standard for scripture found in the New Testament – not that they conform to modern Christian theology.