The question is often posed and debated: Are Mormons Christian? Is Mormonism Christian? Of course, for born again, bible-believing Christians, to say that one is a “Christian” is more than just a label. However, it may be important for us to realize that beyond the realm of the born again believer, the term Christian really is a label. In order to get beyond barriers and to the heart of the matter, perhaps it is time to rethink the issue and reform our approach somewhat.
At the heart of the matter, the real issue is not whether Mormons may rightfully use the label of "Christian" or not. Certainly Mormons are "Christian" just as much as any "new age Christian", Scientologist, Jehovah's Witness or others could claim the title of "Christian" - because they all have elements (more or less) of Christ in their doctrine and practice. Do they “believe” in Jesus Christ? Although maybe not in the way that the bible clearly proclaims, these “religions” do “believe” in Christ and they all teach of Christ in one form or another. And all who claim to believe in and to teach of Christ would naturally get their backs up when the assertion is made that they are not "Christian". This reaction would occur whether those beliefs are misinformed or not. And Mormons are no different. They are indeed flabbergasted when mainstream Christians suggest that Mormonism is not a Christian religion (in fact, as a former faithful member of the Mormon Church, I too would be truly irritated at the suggestion that my church was not Christian when I was a practicing Mormon). But is the Christian label the real issue?
THE REAL ISSUE
I believe that the real issue (and, really, it is the true issue that bible-believing Christians have with Mormonism) is that Mormonism’s doctrines and teachings are explicitly contrary to the bible and to Christ's unequivocal words contained therein. Regardless of the label associated with the religion, the real issue in considering any religion or church should always be whether or not the teachings of that church or religious institution are in line with the Word of God.
Of course, Mormon Church members are also not pleased to hear statements asserting that their doctrines and teachings are contrary to the bible. "But we do believe in Jesus Christ and the bible!", Mormon church members will protest. But consider what is really behind the statement that core Mormon doctrines and teachings are contrary to, and in conflict with, the bible and why it matters - and why, perhaps, it is a more appropriate approach to point that out than it is to proclaim that Mormons are not Christians.
THE CORE MESSAGE OF THE BIBLE
The entire core and essence of the biblical message to the world is what Christ himself explicitly proclaimed: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6. His apostles also proclaimed: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:30-31. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12. And, of course, we know that there are many more explicit proclamations in the New Testament that make clear that this is indeed the message of God to the world. It is so explicit, that it this message is hard to miss and there is little room for debate on the subject. It is only when one gets outside of the bible, such as Mormonism does, that there is room for debate on this core and fundamental issue.
HOW MORMONISM PEVERTS GOD'S SIMPLE MESSAGE TO THE WORLD
Mormonism on the other hand declares that, while it is necessary to believe in Christ, faith in Jesus Christ alone is not sufficient to get you into God’s Kingdom. Consider a few statements from Mormon Church leaders that illustrate the Mormon belief that Jesus Christ alone is not the only way to life and salvation:
[There is] "no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth...no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p.190 (Emphasis added).
"It is because the Lord called Joseph Smith that salvation is again available to mortal men.... If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation." Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 396, 670.
There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 670 (Emphasis added).
Marion Romney said, "This Church is the ensign on the mountain spoken of by the Old Testament prophets. It is the way, the truth, and the life." LDS Conference Report, April, 1961, pg. 119 (Emphasis added).
When Joseph Smith was asked 'Will everybody be damned, but Mormons'? [Smith replied] 'Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent, and work righteousness." Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 119.
“This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth’ according to the word of revelation [D&C 1:30]. Here lies the truth. Here lies the priesthood. Hold to the Church. Do not ever lose sight of the fact that the Church must ever remain preeminent in your lives if you are going to be happy as the years pass. Never let yourselves be found in the position of fighting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You cling to it and be faithful to it. You uphold and sustain it. You teach its doctrine and live by it. And I do not hesitate to say that your lives will be the richer and the happier because of that. You cannot find happiness fighting the work of God. Those who have done so have gone down to a dismal end.” Gordon B. Hinkley, Ricks College regional conference, Rexburg, Idaho, 29 Oct. 1995 (Emphasis added).
"One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation." Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 206.
So, contrary to the explicit message of the bible, Mormonism proclaims that the Mormon Church is the only way to come into God’s Kingdom. This is the real issue at the heart of the matter. The message of Mormonism is simply in direct conflict with the Word of God - the bible.
How can “Christians” not believe that faith in Jesus Christ alone is sufficient for salvation and eternal life in God’s Kingdom? It is beyond the a born again, bible-believing Christian’s comprehension that any alleged Christian church would teach or take such a position. To the life-long Mormon member, this is not troublesome at all. “We have the Book of Mormon and modern revelation that reveals ‘the fullness’ of the lost Gospel of Jesus Christ and this ‘restored’ gospel is not dependent on the bible” (which has been corrupted), Mormons will say (never mind the credibility issues with any and all of that).
WHAT'S AT STAKE FOR THE MORMON CHURCH - ACCEPTANCE
Although Mormons have traditionally maligned and have sought to separate themselves from mainstream Christianity, the Mormon Church has recently been obsessed with mainstream acceptance. As such, the Mormon Church has engaged in a massive PR campaign. This PR campaign includes spreading the message to the world that Mormonism is indeed “Christian” and that Mormons are just like ordinary Christians. While the outward push is to show themselves as like mainstream Christians, the internal teachings remain essentially the same. Mormons will essentially say: “Christians are nice and good-hearted people with some truth, but the Mormon Church alone provides the only path to life in God’s Kingdom - where we too can become Gods and rule our own worlds.” (actually the Mormon church is currently trying to keep that last part as quiet and unnoticeable as possible)
WHAT SHOULD BE THE CONCERN FOR CHRISTIANS - CHURCH BE WARNED
Though there is much debate about the actual convert growth and attrition rates of the Mormon Church, one thing most agree on is that most converts to the Mormon Church come from traditional Christian backgrounds. What this means is that Christians are at risk of being mislead by false and counterfeit forms of Christianity such as Mormonism. When two young and adorable Mormon missionaries come knocking on the door and present a message that, when told without full disclosure, sounds so logical and sweet, anyone not well grounded and immersed in the living word may very well be swayed. This is the real concern.
Jesus and his disciples warned of false prophets, apostles and doctrines that would come in the last days:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Matthew 7:15
“[B]ut there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:7-8
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” 2 Corinthians 11: 3-4
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:13
Thus we see that neither Jesus nor His apostles hesitated to warn of and call out false and counterfeit doctrines when they appeared (yet, at the same time, neither He his disciples imposed the Gospel on or forced anyone to believe in or to follow Christ). Yes, I think that we would be amiss not to warn our families, friends, the church and the world and even the Mormon people of the deception that is Mormonism. That is not (and should not be) a mean-spirited thing, if done with love and genuine concern for the truth and for the welfare of souls. Every man and woman must ultimately make their own decisions to believe or not believe as they see fit. Speaking the truth in love and with respect does not, and should not, infringe on anyone’s rights.
I was a faithful LDS member for 39 years and I thank God for those who had the courage to stand up and speak the truth. When I had come to the point where I needed to know the truth, I did not feel imposed upon by any and all sides of the arguments (and before that point I never would have even looked at anything that contradicted the LDS church, even if it were placed right in front of my face with flashing lights). When knowing the truth meant more to me than just clinging on to what I wanted to be true, I tried to listen to all sides (and everything that I could get my hands on). Each and every side played a part in enabling me to make a real choice. Ultimately, the truth did make me free.
KEYS TO HELPING MORMONS UNDERSTAND THE REAL ISSUE
Again, I think that debate about the label of “Christian” and who may or may not use it is perhaps unproductive. What, then, should be the approach when dealing with the Mormon Christianity issue? Perhaps when talking with Mormons who proclaim that they are Christians just like the rest of Christianity and that they believe in the bible, we should point out the unequivocal declarations made by Christ and His apostles that Christ alone is the door - he alone is the way, the truth and the life. Some key questions that we can pose are:
“Do you believe that you can inherit God's kingdom without the LDS Church? Or, do you believe that the Mormon Church is the only path that will allow you to enter into God’s Kingdom?” If the person answers that they do believe that they can enter into God's Kingdom without the Mormon Church, their belief is clearly contrary to official LDS church doctrine and that fact should be pointed out. Further questions that will help bring that point to light are:
-Do you believe that you can get to the Celestial Kingdom without believing in and accepting Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God?
-Do you believe that you can get into the Celestial Kingdom if you don’t believe that the Mormon Church is the only true church on the face of the earth?
-In a LDS church interview, if a person answered that they didn’t believe in Joseph Smith or that the church that he established is the only true church with the knowledge and authority to perform the requisite saving ordinances, would that person be allowed to be baptized? No. Would he/she be allowed to get a temple recommend to get endowed in the temple? No. (If not baptized by a Mormon priesthood holder or endowed in the temple, the LDS church teaches that you cannot come into the Celestial Kingdom. If not married in and LDS temple, one cannot reach the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom and achieve godhood).
There are many other things that can be used in pointing out that Mormons do not believe in the declaration that Christ alone is the way, the truth and the life and the only name by which we can receive salvation and eternal life in God’s Kingdom (there is a long list of “must-do’s” in order to come into God’s Kingdom, according to Mormon doctrine). The point is that illustrating the lack of Mormon belief in the bible and the simple message of Christ is what will be more effective than merely debating about the Christian label.
I believe that as we focus on this message and bring it to the forefront, we will be more effective in making clear to the world that the Mormon beliefs are contrary to the unequivocal proclamation of the God’s Word that Christ alone is the door through which we can enter into God’s Kingdom and that the man who tries to enter in by some other way is clearly on a wrong path that is not God’s and will not lead to His Kingdom. John 10:1;9-10.
In sum, it may be somewhat inarticulate to say that Mormons are not "Christians" (even though, in our minds, to be “Christian” is to have confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior and to look to Him alone as the way, the truth and the life). Mormons may arguably have the label as "Christians". The real issue is that Mormons are certainly not "biblical Christians" and their teachings are not in accord with the pure and living Word of God. If the bible is truly the Word of God that Christ Himself declared would not pass away, then that is a serious issue. And, as such, it is an issue that Christ's followers should bring to the attention of the world in love - first of all, so that the Mormon people may find and come to the true and living Christ and His Word. Secondly, so that neither the Christians nor the world will be mislead into a counterfeit Christianity that will not and cannot bring life and salvation.
For more information concerning Mormonism from a biblical perspective see: www.truthshallsetufree.com
1. We’ll save for another time a discussion of the Mormon belief that the bible is true “insofar as it is translated correctly” and that in virtually all translations of the bible there have been many “plain and precious truths” that were lost from the bible altogether. Mormons believe that these lost truths were restored by revelation from God to Joseph Smith, the prophet/founder of Mormonism, and that these lost truths exist today only in Mormonism.
2. Mormonism does teach that it is necessary to believe in Jesus Christ in order to enter into God’s Kingdom (the Celestial Kingdom, in Mormon vernacular - the Celestial Kingdom is the highest of what are actually three kingdoms that mankind may end up in after the final judgment). But, in addition, to believing in Jesus Christ, Mormonism teaches that we must accept Joseph Smith as the prophet of the restoration, believe that the Mormon Church is the one and only true church on the face of the earth, believe in and follow the all of the Mormon prophets that came after Joseph Smith and down to the present President/Prophet of the Mormon Church. In addition, all men and women must be: baptized by one having the property priesthood authority to baptize (this priesthood authority exists only in the Mormon Church), receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (again requires proper priesthood authority), endowed in an LDS temple, married in an LDS temple (to receive the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom). One must also be strictly obedient to all the commandments (keep that sabbath day holy, keep the word of wisdom, faithfully attend church, wear the temple garments night and day, etc.). In sum, faith in Jesus Christ alone will not get you into the Kingdom of God.
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