On September 24th Mormon Apostle D. Todd Christofferson spoke to students at BYU-Idaho during the school’s weekly devotional. About halfway through his talk, “The Prophet Joseph Smith,” Mr. Christofferson explained,
“Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling is key to our religion. Without his commission from the Father and the Son, without his priesthood ordinations and the keys he received at the hands of duly appointed heavenly messengers, without the fullness of the gospel restored through his visions and revelations and his translations of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, what we would have is something much less than true Christianity.”
Past Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie clarified that
“Mormonism is Christianity; Christianity is Mormonism; they are one and the same, and they are not to be distinguished from each other in the minutest detail” (Mormon Doctrine, 513).
Yet the fact remains that Mormonism is unique in its doctrines – it does differ from all Christian churches in many minute and momentous details. Mr. Christofferson’s clarification that true Christianity is only to be found within the Mormon Church resonates with the teachings of earlier Mormon apostles. Consider:
“However, true Christianity, so far as the latter days are concerned, is very young, less than one hundred years of age, for it has only been since the year 1830 that the Church of Jesus Christ has been organized in the earth, and the gospel restored…” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Reports, April 1924, 41).
“This (LDS) Church is ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth’ (D. & C. 1:30), the only organization authorized by the Almighty to preach his gospel and administer the ordinances of salvation, the only church which has power to save and exalt men in the hereafter.” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 136)
In fact, calling other faiths “Christian” is misleading, according to Mr. McConkie:
“The term [Christendom] applies to the whole body of supposed Christian believers; as now constituted this body is properly termed apostate Christendom… A perverted Christianity holds sway among the so-called Christians of apostate Christendom.” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 131-132)
“…virtually all the millions of apostate Christendom have abased themselves before the mythical throne of a mythical Christ…” (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 269).
If this is all true, why does the Mormon Church insist on telling the world that, “Anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world is a Christian, regardless of differences in theology”? Is one a Christian, then, apart from Christianity? Is one a Christian while worshiping a mythical Christ? This is nonsense.
Many Mormons are upset when evangelicals state that (and explain why) Mormonism isn’t Christianity. They may be upset, but at least they know where they stand in relation to Christ and salvation. Christians are honest and consistent in the defining of the Christian faith and in the defining of what it means to be a Christian. Mormonism, on the other hand, uses the terms “Christian” and “true Christianity” interchangeably with “apostate Christian” and “perverted Christianity.” It makes no distinction in the public square between “Christ” and what it calls Christendom’s “mythical Christ.” Apostle Bruce McConkie said, “there is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Mormon Doctrine, 670), yet the Mormon Church tells people, “Faithful Christians who are not Latter-day Saints still go to heaven.”
From a biblical Christian perspective, as Aaron Shafovaloff has pointed out elsewhere,
The scandal isn’t that evangelicals won’t call Mormons “Christian.” The scandal is that Mormons are willing to call someone “Christian” who, in their present state and path, faces an eternity of separation from Jesus.
Mormons are willing to call someone who:
- doesn’t have forgiveness
- doesn’t have justification
- doesn’t have eternal life
- hasn’t been adopted by the Father
- doesn’t have the gift of the Holy Ghost
Of course, Mormonism can’t preach a gospel that it does not own. Nevertheless, God will hold all false teachers accountable. In the Book of Jeremiah the LORD exposes the false prophets who “have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:11). Scandalous indeed are the false prophets who comfort the perishing with peaceful words when there is no peace – words that bring false comfort to those who desperately need Christ.