Christian or Not?

A Latter-day Saint student at BYU sent a letter to the BYU NewsNet Readers Forum this week. He wrote:

I grew up considering myself both a Christian and a Latter-day Saint. I heard of people claiming we aren’t Christians, but I still felt comfortable in identifying with both titles. I never felt any wrong in doing this until I arrived at BYU and now suddenly, I’m wondering if I really am a “Christian” and I’ve been left confused. A year ago my old BYU Bishop compared some of our beliefs with those of “Christians.” Just last week, my New Testament professor said that “Christians” believe the sacrament is the literal body and blood of Christ. Another professor mentioned how “Christians” believe that Christ was born on Dec. 24, but as Latter-day Saints we know otherwise. I’ve heard lots of my peers talk about our Christian friends and how they are so different as well. This has all led me to believe that as a Latter-day Saint, I am not Christian. That’s good to know; now I won’t knock up any fuss the next time a “Christian” tells me I’m not one of them. Thanks, BYU, for ending my confusion.Alan Peters
Oak Lawn, Ill.

Well, Mr. Peters’ BYU professors haven’t really got a handle on what Christians actually believe, but the point is well made. Latter-day Saints want to be known as Christians, but the Mormon belief system doesn’t fit the Christian model. And because of that, Mormons can’t consistently live the idea that they are “Christians.”

There is a distinction between what Mormonism is and what Christianity is; that there is a distinction comes out naturally in conversation and teaching. For example, the LDS Church made a big deal in March about the 50th anniversary of “the beginning of the preaching of the gospel in Taiwan,” but the Christian gospel has been preached in Taiwan for over 300 years (see Mormon Coffee “Preaching Mormonism in Taiwan”). Obviously, there is a recognized difference between the LDS gospel and the Christian Gospel.

Perhaps Latter-day Saints could eliminate some of the confusion if they were to follow the examples set by earlier Mormon Church leaders. Instead of talking about what “Christians” believe, make the distinction as Brigham Young and others were fond of doing: speak of the “so-called Christians”:

Brigham Young: “When the light came to me I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness” (Journal of Discourses 5:73). Daniel H. Wells: “…but the so-called system of Christianity is not only an error and a snare, but is a monstrous iniquity fastened upon the children of men throughout the earth” (Journal of Discourses 24:320).

George Q. Cannon: “…no thinking man can admit that Christianity so-called — I call it a false Christianity, untrue to its name — satisfies the wants of humanity at the present time” (Journal of Discourses 24:185).

Bruce McConkie: “Christianity is the religion of the Christians. Hence, true and acceptable Christianity is found among the saints who have the fullness of the gospel, and a perverted Christianity holds sway among the so-called Christians of apostate Christendom” (Mormon Doctrine, 132).

Wouldn’t this kind of explicit language clear up a lot of confusion for both Latter-day Saints and non-Mormons alike? Perhaps this procedure should be written into the Associated Press Stylebook right next to the section on the proper use of the term “Mormon.”

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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7 Responses to Christian or Not?

  1. Andrew says:

    I am still not sure of how I feel about Mormons claiming to be Christian. I guess it all depends on how one uses the term, and one can decide what label they want to apply to themselves. My impression is that devout mormons would like to use the term Christian to show commonalities when first associating with a non-mormon, but later deride the term by which they early refered to themselves. To a certain extent, I think Kirkegarrd was right, “When you label me, you negate me”. Some would call me an evangelical, but that would be misleading because there are numerous areas I would break camp with that term. Labels cause us to ascribe to that person many values and opinions that may or may not be true. Then we have to go through the harder road of unlearning all of those assumptions.

  2. MissAmy says:

    Know that being Christian was a term used to describe Christ as he is the founder of Christianity. All the nations that call themselves Christian may believe in the one Son of God named Jesus Christ which is our Saviour. As long as you have that history in your religion or faith the reason is simple to be calling yourself a Christian.

    I am Christian t-shirts can be found stating John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the life.

  3. R Pavich says:

    Well,
    The illusion that Mormons like to give is that they are just another “sect” of Christanity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christians and Mormons differ on the very foundation of the faith; who Jesus is, who God is, how to be reconciled to God, heaven, hell, who will be saved, about 99% of all doctrine.
    When talking with an LDS one might get a wrong impression that they are Christians because they use the same language as Christians do…salvation, cross, Jesus, faith, etc. The issue is that these words mean something very different to them.
    see this link for more info:
    http://www.goshareyourfaith.com/downloads/mormons_christian_brochure.pdf
    It’s a PDF. print it and read it. It’s just a small sample of the differences.

  4. rick b says:

    The purpose of these various blogs and websites is to show the differences between what Christians and LDS believe. I find it really sad that LDS have accused blogs like this one of using lies and half truths, yet the LDS like R Pavich said are not up front and openly honest about their exact beliefs.
    They will use the words baptism, Jesus, atonment, salvation Etc, All words Christians use, but unless you understand that they dont mean the same, the LDS will not tell you upfront about the differences and theirfore lead you to believe that they believe the same as we do, This is very dectiful.

    Sadly they get mad about blogs like this, but it is ok for them to give the apperance of deception. Now here is a problem in the BoM verses the bible. We read in Acts 11: 26
    26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

    But then we read in the BoM, Supposedly the Most correct Book ever Written. And According to A of F 8, it is above the Bible as being MORE ACCURATE than the Bible. Any way we read in

    Alma 46: 13, 15-16
    13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land.

    Alma 48: 10
    10 And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians.

    Ok, First off, notice in these verses they use the Word Christian This is a problem, if the Book of Acts is to be true, Why? In my copy of the BoM dated 1920 Down the bottom of the page, it dates these happenings to be Both BC 72 AND 73 If they were called Christians After the death and resurrection of Christ, how Could this occurrence of the Word Christian, take place before Christ was around?

    Now lets look at what the word Christian first meant.

    Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary – christian
    The name given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach, to the followers
    of Jesus. It was first used at Antioch. The names by which the disciples were
    known among themselves were “brethren,” “the faithful,” “elect,” “saints,”
    “believers.” But as distinguishing them from the multitude without, the name
    “Christian” came into use, and was universally accepted. This name occurs but
    three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16).
    Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary

    And Wikipedia:

    “Christian” was at first a derogatory term meaning “Christ-like ones” related to persecution, but early Christians were taught by their leaders to bear that name proudly. Previously, they had no specific name for their faith, and so they simply referred to it as “the way”.

    The reason I point these meanings out is, the Prophets in the early days of JS and BY used degrading words about us Christians, So why do LDS want to be know as Christians when it was clear JS and BY and others did not apper to want that title?

    Now lets look at something paul said
    Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

    Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

    Gal 1:8 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.

    Ok, Paul here states that there is ANOTHER GOSPEL, Mormonism teaches this “Other” Gospel.

    I find it really funny, Mormons can call themselves “Christian” Even though we clearly have vastly different beliefes, Yet the LDS refuse to call the FLDS, RLDS or other LDS off-shoot groups Mormons. Why is that?

    The FLDS and RLDS and other off shoots of LDS have closer beliefes to those of the LDS than the LDS and Christians, Example, Christians do not believe in the other 3 standerd works like the BoM, D and C or the Pearl of great price. The FLDS believe the Teaching of D and C 132 not the Christians, and the teaching of D and C 132 is in the D and C which Mormons “LDS” believe.

    So why is it with such great differences in beliefes the Mormons can say they are Christians, But the FLDS and RLDS, with closer beliefes are not Mormon? I did a topic called what if On my blog. I pointed out how If I as a christian were to dress as a mormon missionary and preach my beliefes the LDS would get mad and say I am not a real LDS member, yet LDS can call them selves Christian, and teach way different views to what I believe, Why is this? Rick B

  5. jonathan says:

    Some what off topic, but other evidence that questions the Christianity of Mormons.

    I live in a large valley in Northern Utah that is dominated by the Mormon Faith and Culture. Now the heartbreaking evidence. The recent release of the Movie “Nativity” that focuses on the birth of Jesus and is rated PG has all ready been shown and closed in every movie theater in town. One would have thought that a town full of so many Mormons, who profess, to be Christians would be packing in the theaters to watch this wholesome movie; not the case. Instead they flock by the mini-van full to see the movie Work and Glory part III, the third in a saga based on Historical Fiction about the founding of their church and their beloved prophet Joseph Smith, JR. This movie is still playing in full force up here. It is as though the celebration of Joseph Smith’s birthday in December is more important than the birth of Jesus. You tell me would a “true” Christian prefer watching a movie about Joseph Smith or about Jesus, especially during the Christmas season? Let me answer for you, a “true” Christian would rather watch a movie about Jesus.

  6. Keith Walker says:

    -I know that Joseph Smith is not a prophet of God.

    -I know that the Book of Mormon is not the word of God.

    -I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the one true church.

    Since I know all these things, please name one LDS bishop who would accept me as a baptismal candidate. If I deny the fundamentals of the Mormon faith, why would I expect to be accepted as a Mormon? The same question applies to the Mormons. If they deny the fundamentals of the Christian faith, why do they expect to be accepted as Christians?

  7. jonathan says:

    UPDATE!

    The Movie the Nativity arrived once again to a snowy Northern Utah Valley just in time for Christmas, but it was only at the dollar theather. I am not sure what the symbolism of have a movie about Christ at that theather says, but for most Mormons Christ is a job like a bishop or stake president. It is not a Savior to the world. It some ways it is a cheap Christ. A Christ according to Mormon belief that is not sufficient His death on the cross does not cover all sins, some require the shedding of the sinners blood to make a complete atonement.

    I was able to take my family to watch the movie. It was great. It put me in the Christmas Spirit. Which is the spirit of Christ. Love, Grace, Mercy, Peace, etc. just in time for Christmas.

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