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Are Mormons Christians?

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Just a basic question. [Dec. 5th, 2005|07:58 am]
Are Mormons Christians?
questioning_lds
[kokob]
[mood |curiouscurious]

This may seem straight-forward to some of you, but is important, and in fact central to the theme of this community.

Could those of you that watch this please respond to this simple dual-point question?

Are Mormons Christian? Why or why not?


**The reason for this is that as a member for most of my life, I know the religion quite well. I've read the Book of Mormon and the Bible (KJV) all the way through quite a few times. Regardless of "truth", regardless of whether mormons themselves are GOOD christians, the question seems to be a more technical one being posed by this community. And the Question, "Are Mormons Christian?" seems... odd. Beside the point, almost.**

Or perhaps, you can clarify that the question is whether the standard Mormon behaves like a Christian, or rather a good disciple of the Christ, rather than the religion as a group.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: kimmellee
2005-12-05 03:14 pm (UTC)
I always see this as a pointless question. Of course we're Christians. We belong to the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. We believe in Christ. Therefore we are Christian. We just believe in there being more than just the bible that attests to Jesus.
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From: kokob
2005-12-05 04:18 pm (UTC)
Semantics, though. So I wondered if it was about the "truth" of the principles, or the goodness of the people themselves, perhaps...
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 04:44 pm (UTC)
This argument always befuddles me. There is such a conflict of definitions with Christ. To me the Jesus that I see in Mormonism is a shadow of the man I see in orthodox Christianity. How differant can this man be before we have to admit that we are talking about two differant people?
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From: kokob
2005-12-05 04:59 pm (UTC)
To a degree, I see what you mean. However, when you speak of orthodox christianity, I'm unclear on what makes mormonism so different for you in this regard? What Christ do you see defined by mormonism that doesn't match that of other churches? Be aware, there are many sects of Christianity - many of whom believe vastly different things about Christ.
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 05:33 pm (UTC)

Long but worth it...

My fundamental problem with the person of Christ in the LDS faith is his supremacy in creation.
In traditional Christianity we have a Christ whom is the agent of all creation. It is he that by whom and through whom everything has been created and takes its name. The first chapter of Hebrews models this concept brilliantly. He is the exact representation of God’s being. Lord so far over angels as men above ants. He quiet literally transcends all. He is without equal.
In LDS faith he has been demoted, or perhaps we have been promoted, to the level of every man. LDS faith claims that we are all children of God in a very literal sense as though it was our original position. But I see in Romans the concept that we are not God’s children by right but by adoption. In Romans it is Christ alone that can be dared called the son of God by right. We were filthy little creations lost in our own evilness that God cleaned and adopted because of his love for us.
In the LDS faith Christ is the agent that brings us back to where we were originally. In Christian doctrine, Jesus gives us more then what we had in the first place by sharing his royal position with us whom are underserved. In short I see a big brother looking out for me in the LDS faith, someone whom I might grow up to equal one day. In traditional Christianity I see a divine Lord that has given up his very existence to share with me. He is one whom I can never match but simply sit at his feet and wonder, ‘Why did you do that for me?’
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[User Picture]From: kimmellee
2005-12-05 07:49 pm (UTC)

Re: Long but worth it...

Whether or not we believe how high Jesus' supremecy is, we (meaning both LDS and Fundamental Christians) still both believe in Jesus Christ. Therefore we are both Christians. I fail to see how His supremecy (or lack there of in the LDS faith) would negate our belief of Him. We both still believe he existed, we both still believe it was the same man, born of flesh and blood to Mary. The other stuff you mention is just a difference in doctrine. It doesn't negate our belief of Jesus being the Christ.

Say for example that you believe that George W. Bush is a loser, and I believe he's the best president ever. That still doesn't negate the fact that we both believe he is the president of the United States of America does it?

Truthfully I don't see a difference in your beliefs from mine. Your descriptions of the difference between the LDS and the 'traditional' Christianity is a matter of opinion, not doctrine. It's a matter of personal divinity, how high we revere him.
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 08:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Long but worth it...

I am a little confused. Is what I have stated about Jesus a difference in docrine as mentioned in your first paragraph or a matter of opinion as mentioned in your last paragraph.
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[User Picture]From: kimmellee
2005-12-05 08:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Long but worth it...

I'm saying it doesn't matter either way. We both believe He existed and He was HIM. Whether he was as Exalted as you believe, or whether he is my brother like I believe doesn't make me less of a Christian than you.
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 08:24 pm (UTC)

Re: Long but worth it...

I guess this goes back to my original question, how different does the LDS Jesus have to be until we realize that we are not talking about the same person.

We may love or hate Mr. Bush. But what if I say he has brown hair and you claim he has red? Is it the same person? What if I say that he is a Colombian field worker and you say he is president of America? Is this the same person? Taken to a further extreme, we both agree that he is a real person, but what if I say that Mr. Bush is really a Miss. Bush? When will you have to say, ‘Dave, I do not think we are talking about the same person’? Same with Christ.
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[User Picture]From: kimmellee
2005-12-05 08:27 pm (UTC)

Re: Long but worth it...

I'm talking about the Jesus of Nazerath. Who are you talking about? I don't understand how they can be *that* different.

Truthfully I just don't think you're going to believe that I believe in the same Christ, because you don't want to.
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 08:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Long but worth it...

Kim, I can quiet honestly say that there are few things in this world that would make me happier then your church and I sharing the same image of Christ.

The difference is this, on one hand you have God becoming man. On the other you have man becoming God. That divide is huge. Some would even argue that it is the crowning jewel of theology that separates Christianity from every other faith. It is *that* different and I wish that I could understand why so many LDS church members do not see it this way.
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 04:35 pm (UTC)
I love having this conversation but it never really leads anywhere. The reason I ask many of my other technical questions is simply because I feel like that single debate could not possibly carry a community forever. And in these technical questions I have found that we can high light a lot of our differences with out having to constantly throw the big Q around. It encourages each side to think rather then accuse.

I think at the end of the day some LDS are Christian while others are not. Those that are followers of Christ are so in spite of what the church teaches, meaning that they reject or are unaware of certain heretical doctrines taught by the church. Franky, to further my position I would like to see reform in the LDS church and not the abolishment of it. It would take a lot of humility to embrace the orthodoxy that it has been lacking but I would be one of its first protestant supporters if it started to make that move and willing to offer it a huge portion of grace along the way.
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From: kokob
2005-12-05 04:52 pm (UTC)
Ah, well heresy is subjective to what one believes, what one has faith in. Every church is heretical to at least some of the others... I wondered why single out the LDS church? I suppose there must of course be communities designed to question Catholics as Christians, etc. too.

If we are talking about the individual members, yes as with EVERY religion, some truly are good people and have viewpoints close to the truth, while others do not.

It would seem that the point of this is that the LDS church doesn't feel like it follows the teachings you have decided are truth (through faith and testimony, or even just prayer and research). Fair enough.

I guess I expected a more reasonable and all-encompassing sense of what makes a christian. I'd have thought it was a follower of his teachings and principles.

If the "Church" is indeed heretical (I'm distinctly NOT saying it isn't) then it as an entity may still be christian. It would depend on the specific points you disagree with. And that would be based on your own thoughts, feelings, opinions and in the end, faith.

Unfortunately, that cannot be applied to everyone. Even Christ worked within the boundaries of the understanding of those he taught to.


If I may be so bold, I'd suggest a shift in focus. Not "Are Mormons Christians?" but "Does the LDS Church Encourage Truly Christian Behavior?"

Truth is a slippery subject, and in the end, generally only spawns poor feelings when argued outright. My own feelings on the truth of all things are... complex. I'm not going to air them out here.

But one thing I know is that not only is the mormon church Christian in name, it constantly teaches its members to be like Christ. Policies and procedures can be debated, but would have more to do with the path the business entity of the Church is taking, than that of its members (I know, policy affects behavior when people believe in the Organization as much or more than God specifically, but then that's true of every religion also.)


Having said all that, be aware I have specific concerns with certain policies of the Church contradicting Christ's teachings and attitude. Some of that will trickle more and more strongly down to members. My question was exploratory regarding the purpose of the community more than anything else.
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[User Picture]From: avallach
2005-12-05 06:38 pm (UTC)
Just curious - a couple times you've talked about people being "good people." I must admit that my knowledge of Mormonism is limited (I am a Christian, non-denominational), but does the LDS church teach that being a good person is enough? Or that we can be saved by works?

To me the question of whether Mormons are Christians and whether the LDS church encourages truly Christian behavior are radically different.
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From: kokob
2005-12-05 06:50 pm (UTC)
Exactly - If we are asking whether Mormons are Christians, it cannot be answered. Too absolute a question for 11.x million people.

It's like asking if Catholics are Christian.


The LDS church does not teach that being good is enough - Works AND Grace are required. Works will earn Grace, for it has been promised that way, but it is the Grace that makes the difference. (In other words, Grace is important, but we've got to get off our asses and show our worth.)
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[User Picture]From: avallach
2005-12-05 07:23 pm (UTC)
Not to derail the thread further but...

What do Mormons have to say about Ephesians 2:8-9 then?

Here's my stab at "are Mormons Christians."

I would say a Christian is someone who believes salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works.*

Further, in John 14:6, you've got Jesus saying "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." I would say that anyone who puts intermediaries between humans and the Father other than Jesus is not a Christian. This includes angels, priests, saints, anything.

So I'd say these are some of the things that define why Mormons and Catholics are, at least in general, not Christian.

* http://www.masters.edu/DeptPageNew.asp?PageID=61#Salvation - this is the doctrinal statment of the college I went to. I often link to and/or quote it because it lays everything out much more eloquently and succinctly than I could.
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 07:46 pm (UTC)

Grace

You simply can't earn grace. If you could it would not be grace.
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[User Picture]From: avallach
2005-12-05 08:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Grace

Well said.
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From: kokob
2005-12-05 08:19 pm (UTC)

Re: Grace

If salvation is wholly by grace, then the most evil might be saved. It becomes random. You haven't read your scriptures if you believe that effort means nothing, that works mean nothing. God said we must do good works. Why, if not connected to salvation, if he's drawing names out of a hat? It makes no sense to say that Grace is independent of our actions - it is above them, certainly, but God himself said that salvation also depends on our works. I'm not going to throw scripture references at you - if you don't know them, or aren't interested enough to look on your own, the point will be lost.

Let me instead rely on simple logic: Grace is earned like one earns love. It isn't a matter of price. It is a matter of intent. Of showing worth and care. We show we are good christians, therefore Grace is GIVEN. The grace can only be given through Jesus perhaps, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want us to do certain things on our own side.
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 08:35 pm (UTC)

Re: Grace

See this is where you are in error. We do not have to do good deeds. We get to do good deeds. Before when I was not a follower of Christ I was bound to evil. It was all that I could do. Even when I tried to do good things it was out of selfish motives. I could not prevent myself from sinning, and believe me I tried. Now in Christ, God has given me strength and opportunity to glorify him.
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 08:44 pm (UTC)

Re: Grace

You seem frustrated with me. Please understand that simply because I do not agree with you does not mean that I am not enjoying talking with you. I am not trying to flame you. But please be a little kinder. I am a bit insulted that you assume that I am not interested in the word of God and that I do not know it well.
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From: kokob
2005-12-05 08:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Grace

I'm not frustrated, simply clarifying a point. Insults in my words were unintended. I don't need you to agree with me. It is simple logic, I don't really care whether anyone understands... I simply point out that if Grace is not just essential (which I agree with), but the ONLY thing necessary, then God is randomly choosing people for salvation... therefore actions and works mean nothing, therefore God has lied. Since that cannot be... *smiles and shrugs*

If you know the scriptures well, then you know what I meant originally. I might then be in a postion to assume you meant offense by your blunt contradiction of my statement... Regardless, I'm not offended, and meant none in return. Sorry if I'm not coming across well.

In fact, this might be a good note to leave on. I've answered my initial question: no one who has answered is willing to look beyond subjective belief, even in terms of what they MEANT by a question, never mind the answer itself.

I didn't expect more from an internet religious discussion really, but it is a pity, since it had so much promise. I wish you all the best. *grins* May the best God/Christ win!

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[User Picture]From: avallach
2005-12-05 11:57 pm (UTC)

Re: Grace

I guess I'm a little confused as to what you were looking for then. "A Christian is someone who wears a cross on a chain around their neck?" The answer is going to be all about what someone believes.
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[User Picture]From: avallach
2005-12-05 11:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Grace

It's not that they mean nothing, it's that they're not what saves you. The Bible does say "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." - James 2:26. This is saying that if the things you do after you're saved aren't the things that a person is saved should be doing, then there's something wrong. Your faith is defective. Works are evidence of being saved, not what saves you.

I have read/heard several times that Jeffrey Dahmer (sp?) was, in fact, saved in prison before being killed. Would you say that his evil deeds made him ineligible for salvation?

BTW: being able to back up what you're saying with scripture seems pretty important to me when discussing this type of thing. After all, simple logic is what leads many people to theories like evolution & atheism.
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[User Picture]From: avallach
2005-12-05 11:55 pm (UTC)

Re: Grace

PS: "Your faith is defective" was not directed at you personally. I'm using the generic "you" referring to a person whose works are not lining up with what they say their beliefs are.
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From: notashot
2005-12-05 06:03 pm (UTC)
Here is a nice bold statement for you:

Ultimately anyone who relies on anything other then Christ himself for the forgiveness of sins, even if it is only in part, even a very small part, has no share in his inheritance.
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From: kokob
2005-12-05 06:30 pm (UTC)
Ah, but that implies that Christ gives redemption without the need for additional work on our part.

To rely on anything else is folly, but without our own repentance, such redemption cannot be given. Perhaps I should say, will not be given.
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[User Picture]From: j0idvivr
2006-04-03 08:38 pm (UTC)
Then, by that criteria, are Catholics considered Christians? Do they not require a priest to absolve them of their sins, versus Christ's atonement?
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[User Picture]From: rmdixon
2005-12-06 11:03 pm (UTC)

Mormonism and Christianity

I'm not sure I have much to add here, but it's never stopped me before. :-)

Having spent the better part of the last eight months pondering this question from different viewpoints, it's probably not possible for everybody to come to agreement on it, because it's based on our definitions of "Christian". Typically LDS folks have a much looser definition of "Christian" because we don't spend as much time studying raw theology as others do. I'm in a study group with a Baptist and a Catholic right now, and I generally leave the group feeling pretty stupid. The Baptist quotes from the Westminster confession (he's "reformed"-leaning). The Catholic quotes chapter and verse from the Catechism. Me? I know a lot of stories about church history and pioneers and can cite the Book of Mormon, which unfortunately is not too compelling for these folks.

Hopefully the LDS folks are reading these posts carefully and looking up the scriptures, because a wider gulf exists between us sometimes than we appreciate.

In the long run, I guess I'm mostly concerned with whether or not Christ thinks I'm Christian, because his definition is the one I care about most.
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From: notashot
2005-12-07 09:03 pm (UTC)

Re: Mormonism and Christianity

You have the best mindset ever. That makes me happy. Study away!
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From: ex_twilight639
2006-02-12 01:03 am (UTC)

Re: Mormonism and Christianity

I find this interesting from the opposite point of view. I seek to understand why (and I know this_is_warmth 's opinion here but not others) LDS are not seen as Christians.. so reading through things is beginning to clear the fog in my mind on this topic.

So are there any other arguments as to why we are not Christians other than what I know this_is_warmth's opinion is.. and that has to do with not believing in the trinity and instead the Godhead.

Is this pretty much about the definition of who Christ is or is it mroe about what we DO or Believe? I'm kind of curious.
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From: notashot
2006-02-12 10:05 am (UTC)

Re: Mormonism and Christianity

I forget what this is warmth says but basically for me the attributes of the mormon Christ are so exceedingly differant then that of all other Christian denominations that I find it hard to be willing to share the title with them.
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From: ex_twilight639
2006-02-12 06:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Mormonism and Christianity

Oh I understand the part about how we view Christ as opposed to how mainstream Christianity views Christ. Is that basically all there is to the situation?
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From: notashot
2006-02-12 06:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Mormonism and Christianity

That is the root were most problems stem, but not the only one. You have the LDS temple system, blood atonement, eternal progression, the nature of sin, the nature of grace, the nature of man, the authority of the bible, the exclusivity of the orginization, and the endless stream of peculiar sayings from early leadership.
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From: ex_twilight639
2006-02-12 06:55 pm (UTC)

Re: Mormonism and Christianity

Well I'm not really asking what are the differences between christianity and mormonism.. I'm more or less asking why we are considered not christian other than the identity of Christ situation... so if this is true.. then wouldn't you have problems with any church claiming to be christian that isn't exactly the same? I do believe there are vast differences between catholiscism and protestantism in the way they do things and a lot of beliefs. I'm seeking to understand more, so could you tell me specifically if these things you mention are simply doctrinal differences or if they are in some way proof that we are not christian.. and why in each case? I've been trying to explain this to my husband as I learn it.
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From: notashot
2006-02-12 07:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Mormonism and Christianity

Holy cow. That is a lot of explaining. Could I get your e-mail and just send you bits at a time?
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From: ex_twilight639
2006-02-13 05:50 pm (UTC)

Re: Mormonism and Christianity

Oh sure.. that's fine by me. :) Sorry that I asked a lot, I just wanted to understand a bit more.

windvesper@gmail.com
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