The bishop of the Howell [Michigan] ward of the LDS Church, Mark Briscoe, recently told a journalist that it’s painful to him when others think Mormonism isn’t a Christian religion. He identifies this notion as the “greatest misconception about the [Mormon] church.” On April 26th LivingstonDaily.com reported:
“Sometimes people would say that we’re not Christians,” [Mr. Briscoe] said. “We definitely are. We believe in Jesus Christ.”An Idaho native, Briscoe has been a Mormon his whole life, and said it is painful to have others think that his church is somehow outside the boundaries of Christianity. He said he was a high school student when he first heard the accusation.
“It was a little bit unsettling,” he said. “From my earliest memories, we talked about Jesus Christ.”
This is nothing new, of course, and if you’ve been reading Mormon Coffee for awhile you will have read my thoughts on this topic before. I keep bringing it up because I’m ever hopeful that Latter-day Saints might “get it” if they are encouraged periodically to think the issue through.
Setting aside the specific definition of “Christianity,” which Evangelicals and Mormons may disagree on until the cows come home, just think about the implications in the next part of the article:
In fact, members of the church believe that Jesus’ teachings were changed and weakened soon after the apostles died, and that this “apostasy,” or falling away from the truth, led to the withdrawal of the true church from the earth.Mormons believe that was reversed when Joseph Smith, regarded as a prophet, was visited by God and Jesus in a vision in 1820. That’s when Smith was chosen to restore the true church to the world, according to LDS doctrine. Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the sacred text of the Latter Day Saints[sic], which is based on the Bible.
The Mormons’ refer to this process as the “restoration.”
This is the LDS message. The true teachings of Jesus were changed. His followers abandoned the true faith. The true church that Jesus instituted was withdrawn from the earth, leaving behind nothing but a counterfeit. This false church — false Christianity — reigned unchallenged for nearly two thousand years until Joseph Smith restored the true church — the LDS Church — to the earth once again.
Now, what does that mean in regards to all those who call themselves “Christians” who do not presently accept Joseph Smith’s restored church? We may talk about Jesus Christ, but according to Mormonism, our faith is false. It’s based on the corrupted teachings of Jesus which finds expression in millions of apostate churches all over the world.
Mr. Briscoe is hurt if people say Mormonism isn’t Christian, yet he has no qualms in saying that historic Christianity has become an entirely perverted religion.
Though there might be disagreement over what constitutes true Christianity (Mormonism, orthodox Christianity, or something else altogether), the point I think too many people miss is that Mormonism and historic Christianity are different religions. If Mormonism is true, then historic Christianity is false, and vise-versa; one or the other is “outside the boundaries of [true] Christianity.”
In my opinion, the greatest misconception about the Mormon Church is that people think it’s just another Christian denomination. The doctrines of Mormonism do not allow for that option. I’d like everyone to know.