Are Mormons Christian?

MoroniDallasWhat do you think about Mormons? Are the Christian? This is a question I often get asked in interfaith conversations. Sometimes it is asked by Christians who are unfamiliar with Mormonism, but more often it is asked by non-Christians. Sometimes it is asked out of genuine curiousity, but more often it is asked in order to “expose” divisiveness within Christian ranks. So that it can be said, “Why should we believe any of you when you each say each other is wrong!”

This, however, is disingeneous, because the differences between Protestants and Mormons are of a far different order to the differences between Protestants and Catholics. Christians may disagree over peripheral issues, but the three largest branches of Christianity – Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox – all agree over the essentials, all agree that God is Trinity. There is no divisiveness here between Protestants and Catholics here, only unity.

This, however, is precisely where Mormons differ. In the essentials. So much so that I am inclined to say: Mormanism is to Christianity, what Christianity is to Judaism. A new religion, even if it shares ancestry to the old.

From discussions with Mormons themselves, however, I have found a different approach may be preferred. You see, we have found ourselves mutually agreeing that an acceptable label for Mormonism is non-Trinitarian Christianity. This puts Mormans in the same boat as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians and Unitarian Universalist Christians. Even though I consider Mormons to be even more unorthodox than any of them, I find it acceptable as it acknowledges their Christian ancestry without brushing aside the very deep differences in their understanding of God and Jesus. And it seems they, at least the ones I have conversed with, find it acceptable too. So in the answer to the question: are Mormons Christian? I would now answer, yes, but not Trinitarian, so it is a very different kind of Christianity. A kind of Christianity where Christ is not one with the Creator, as he is for Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants.

3 thoughts on “Are Mormons Christian?

  1. Alvin Gan says:

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  2. Matt Stone says:

    Alvin
    Yes I might be interested in this. They look more creative than some I've seen and I have 2 boys aged 8 and 10 myself, so I have a personal interest and although children's ministry is not a core focus of my blog I do dip into it from time to time. What sort of samples and/or prizes would you be suggesting. Apart from the 2 vids you posted I thought the Lego approach might be interesting as well. Here's a "minecraft" based approach I've been experimenting with myself this year – http://mattstone.blogs.com/christian/2013/09/loaves-and-fishes-minecraft-and-glitches.html
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    Matt

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  3. John W. Morehead says:

    This is a huge question in American Evangelical-Mormon relations and conversations. We need to recognize that Evangelicals and Mormons define what it means to be Christian very differently. For Mormons it is a simple matter of those who profess faith in Christ and follow him. Mormonism has beliefs and a worldview, but it is praxis-oriented, an emphasis that belief-oriented Evangelicals often miss. By contrast, Evangelicals define Christian as not only someone with faith in Christ, but also someone who adheres to various historic creedal formulations of faith in Christendom, and with it certain doctrines considered essential, such as the Trinity. So we often talk past each other on this issue, and end up getting offended in the process.
    As a religious system Mormonism is difficult to define as a part of historic Christendom. It does not acknowledge the ecumenical creeds and views these as a part of the process of alleged apostasy, and has a dramatically different worldview and cosmology. For these reasons, while it is related to the Christian tradition, it has become a separate tradition in its own right.
    Having said that, Evangelicals might be open to the idea that some or many Mormons might be Christian even while holding on to many heretical doctrines. The earliest Christians were not able to give assent to doctrines in the creeds that hadn’t been written yet, and couldn’t believe in a fully developed concept of the Trinity, even if they recognized the seeds of trinitiarian thinking in the New Testament. How many Evangelicals today can articulate an orthodox doctrine of the Trinity?
    Beyond these considerations, the issue is much more complex than many Evangelicals might assume. I recommend reading Rick Brown’s essay “What Must One Believe About Jesus for Salvation” in the International Journal of Frontier Mission at http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/17_4_PDFs/02_Brown_Beliefs_hw.pdf. It provides interesting biblical and theological food for thought related to the question you’ve raised.

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