Are You a Christian? Who Gets to Decide?

In an article posted last week on The New Republic web site (November 12, 2007), journalist Josh Patashnik took a look at Mitt Romney’s tendency to distance himself from LDS doctrine for the sake of his presidential campaign. Mr. Patashnik wrote,

“But seeking common ground with adversaries [i.e., evangelicals suspicious of Mormonism] doesn’t always endear you to your own side–particularly when animosity between two groups runs deep. At the most basic level, Mormons regard themselves as Christians and want others to do the same. But a recent Pew survey found that a plurality of evangelicals do not consider Mormons to be Christians. ‘I understand he [Romney] has to appeal to them for political purposes, but it makes me, as a Mormon, feel very, very queasy to see him doing it,’ says Greg Kearney, a computer programmer in Casper, Wyoming. ‘These people hate us, and they are so vitriolic–they think they get to decide who’s Christian.'”

Looking at Mr. Kearney’s statement, there are two things I would like to address. One is the charge that evangelicals hate Mormons. Hopefully, readers here know that this is an emotionally driven claim without basis in fact. Generally speaking, Evangelicals disagree with Mormonism, but we do not hate Mormons.

DictionaryIn the second half of Mr. Kearney’s statement he complains that evangelicals “think they get to decide who’s Christian.” I hear this criticism a lot from Mormons, and it does raise a question: Who should (or does) get to decide who’s Christian?

Most everyone has adopted a definition of some sort, including the LDS Church:

“Anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world is a Christian, regardless of differences in theology.”

This LDS definition has a very different focus from another definition penned by SBC pastor Paul Cline. Many evangelicals would agree with this:

“Historical Christianity has a set of core beliefs that define it. Christianity has basic truths without which Christianity fails to be truly Christian. These basic truths have been the basis of true Christianity throughout the ages.”

So the Mormon definition disregards theology; the evangelical definition embraces it. Who gets to decide which definition is the right definition? notes, “Who is a Christian? A simple question, with many answers.” Even dictionaries can’t agree on a definition. Webster’s tries to cover all the bases with five definitions:

1. A person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ, or in the religion based on the teachings of Jesus.

2. A decent, respectable person.

3. having the qualities demonstrated and taught by Jesus Christ, as love, kindness, humility, etc.

4. Of or representing Christians or Christianity.

5. humane, decent, etc.

The Free dictionary says Christianity is,

A monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior.

Perhaps a trustworthy definition is the one found in the Bible. In A Biblical Definition of Christianity I went through the scriptures systematically and came to this conclusion:

“What is a Christian?

“A Christian is a follower of Christ. A follower of Christ is one who does the will of the Father. The will of the Father is believing on Christ. Believing is not merely acknowledging, but trusting Christ alone for personal salvation. Personal salvation is being reconciled to God, having the promise of spending eternity in His presence.” (For support of this progression of logic, please see A Biblical Definition of Christianity.)

So are Latter-day Saints Christians? Are evangelicals Christians? It all hinges on the definition we accept. Who gets to decide?

We all can (and must) evaluate any belief system or religious leader, prayerfully examining their teachings and behavior. For those professing to believe the Bible, God’s Word is the standard by which judgment is made. In this way, we may discern truth from error regarding a prophet, a church or an organization. But this doesn’t tell us who is Christian; it tells us what is Christian in doctrine and action.

Ultimately, it is only God who decides who is a Christian, for He alone sees and knows our hearts.

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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57 Responses to Are You a Christian? Who Gets to Decide?

  1. Megan says:

    One thing I had to wonder is how Greg Kearney “knows” that Evang. hate Mormons. Does he know this from personal experience with Evang. that he has encountered? (I really, really hope not). Does he know this because he has been told we hate him in his ward or seminary classes? Do we supposedly “hate” him because we do not consider him to be a part of the universal Christian Church–ie., saved?
    A few LDS on this blog and others I have encountered seem to think that every Sunday the pastor preaches on the evils of Mormons and Mormonism. In all my 30 years of attending church of different denominations, I have never heard a single sermon on Mormonism. I wish Greg Kearney and other Mormons didn’t think I hated them. But I do passionately disagree with their doctrine and theology. If this means that I hate them, couldn’t the tables be turned and the same be said for them? After all, Mormons don’t believe I have the truth. And this doesn’t offend me at all.

  2. Rick B says:

    Megan, like you, in all my years of Going to Church, we have never done a sermon on mormonism. the Church I go to, the pastor goes through the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, we start in the of genesis and go through to the book of revelation, then start all over again.

    I do not hate Mormons either, if I did really hate them, then I would not share the Gospel with them and let them die and go to hell, but since I love them, I share Christ with them. Rick b

  3. Jeff B says:

    In the game of life, the victim card is played the most.

    Paul Cline
    ““Historical Christianity has a set of core beliefs that define it. Christianity has basic truths without which Christianity fails to be truly Christian. These basic truths have been the basis of true Christianity throughout the ages.””

    I agree with his definition completely. And what that entails, from my perspective, is that either Mormons are the true Christians and traditional Christians are not really Christian, or we are Christian and the LDS have a heretical religion using the same figure head (Jesus Christ) and holding entirely different doctrine.

    If you are LDS and agree with Paul Cline’s quote, then I don’t see how you can possibly call us both Christians. I doubt however that any LDS on this site will agree with his definition.

  4. amanda says:


    Then you are fellowshipping mormons.

    I think Evangelicals, for many reasons, mis characterize (perhaps, ignorantly and without malice) our ACTUAL doctrine pertaining to the Savior and His role. This mis characterization is usually the ONLY foundation for claims of us being a cult, or non-Christian. It’s easy to jump to such conclusions when you are working with a completely flawed foundation.

    Rick, I find it ironic that you would post a claim that there isn’t a general focus on mormons in the evangelical message on an anti-mormon website (spare me the “we aren’t anti-mormon” response, anti-mormon is simply another way of saying you stand in opposition to our beliefs). In addition, ANY evangelical website you go to will have a link to mormons and some other garbage about “what is a cult”…and EVERY single evangelical church I have been to (totaling over 20 or so) have classes dedicated to antagonizing mormon doctrine. I also believe it is ridiculous to say we think you hate us simply because you mis characterize what we believe. I would say that at best, we find it annoying.


    In defense of Mr. Kearney (even though his comment about Mitt Romney was a bit ridiculous), you must place yourself in his shoes if you wish to understand and minister to him better (as I am sure that is your overall intention). Consider the things that are said about what he holds dear. Whether they are true or not, the approach is oftentimes abrasive (and largely uninformed)– most mormons, incapable of knowing YOUR heart and mind, would take this message as hateful or unloving.

    Weren’t we taught in the bible that “where much is given, much is required”… wouldn’t that place you in the position to turn the other cheek, be long-suffering, kind, charitable— I don’t believe mormons receive much charity from evangelicals…I believe evangelicals stand in judgment against mormons more than they stand by them.

  5. Jeff B says:

    Amanda, please tell me what we evangelicals are “mis characterizing” of your beliefs. Personally list off at least one thing that you think we are totally “off base” with.

    Possibly a reason why you think we mis-characterize LDS beliefs is because LDS doctrine and beliefs constantly shift and adapt by whatever means necessary. Occasionally, the presidents of your church contradict each other in their teaching. You may call their comments opinions, but thats your own prerogative. Theres no defense for Brigham Young and his Adam God doctrine, believing in it and teaching it all those years, only to have another president call it false doctrine. It is for these reasons that you may feel that we mis-characterize beliefs. With all these conflicting/shifting doctrines, I ask that you could possibly be charitable and long-suffering with our efforts to understand your true beliefs. One prophet says the dog is red, one says the dog is green, we call it red and then all of a sudden we are mis-characterizing your beliefs.

    P.S. – I find anti-Mormonism to be a more correct term when defining the purposes of this website. Anti-Mormon makes it sound like we oppose the PEOPLE, not just their beliefs.

  6. falcon says:

    Jeff B
    You stole my thunder. We read first source Mormon quotes, repeat them and assume that’s what they believe. Then we’re told we are misrepresenting what they believe or that the historical facts aren’t accurate. Do Mormons believe there’s a mother god and father god that procreate spirit children who will some day become humans? Does this father god have a father god? Can humans progress to become gods? Are Jesus and Lucifer brothers? Did Joseph Smith demonstrate that he had absolutely no ability or revelation to interpret ancient text based on the sham “Book of Abraham”. Does writing this here indicate that I hate Mormons?
    Regarding what set of beliefs determines what/who a Christian is, that’s pretty easy. Read the new testament. Tell me if Mormon theology and doctrine is articulated there? It’s not. It was revealed to a prophet(s). It wasn’t written in the Bible. End of story.

  7. Michael P says:

    And Amanda, your beliefs get further confused to us when some say, for example, that Brigham Young did not even say the Adam/God doctrine. That the sermons were mistakenly ascribed to him by an error in their recordation.

    Basically, it is how the beliefs cannot be pinned down. It seems as if one becomes problematic, there is reason why it can’t be true, either by denying its existence, a new prophecy, or that the particular statement is only opinion.

  8. Ralph says:

    We all believe in the Bible – so let’s find the answer as to who is a Christian in there. The word Christian is used 3 times; Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. In the 2 Acts references the word is used by non-believers to describe those who believe in Jesus Christ. Did they delineate between those who believed in a Trinity and those who did not? Did they delineate between those who believed in still adhering to the Law of Moses and those who did not? NO they didn’t – the criterion was a belief and following of Jesus Christ. We know this answer because of all the epistles found in the NT calling those who believe differently to conform to the true belief – indicating that there were differences of opinion in the early church (as discussed in another blog).

    The third time the word is used (ie in 1 Peter) it does not give any other meaning of the word to change its previous meaning form the verses in Acts.

    So according to this definition in the Bible both Evangelicals and LDS fit the description – so to do Catholics, JW, SDA, etc.

    If you want to change the meaning to suit yourselves, that’s fine but it doesn’t mean that the LDS meaning is wrong as we conform to the Biblical meaning.

  9. falcon says:

    Is Satan a Christian?

    So Jesus comes across this guy who has a major demonic posession going on. When Jesus approaches the man the demons cry out “What do we have to do with You, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” The demons recognized who Jesus was and they believed who He was. So we know that recognizing who Jesus is, doesn’t get someone saved or give them the Christian brand. If I say I’m a Mormon based on a belief in the universal view that all religions are One, would Mormons agree with me (that I can claim to be a Mormon)? I doubt it. Because my guess is that Mormons have a criteria of at least three or four things pertaining to what a Mormon is.

  10. Cathi says:

    No, we can’t *decide* who is a Christian. God has already done that. But that doesn’t mean we can’t *know* who is a Christian based on what he claims to believe and what God has proclaimed in His word.

  11. Megan says:

    Amanda, would you care to list examples of the LDS beliefs that have been mis-characterized on here? Also, give us some credit. Many of us on here have spent months, if not years studying the differences/similarities between Mormonism and Christianity. I have gone to the official LDS website, read books, talked to Mormon missionaries and LDS friends, studied the Bible extensively, etc… At what point am I qualified to assume that I understand at least some LDS doctrines?
    If Mormons are offended that I don’t consider them to be Christian, should I be offended that I have supposedly lost the true gospel and need the “restored” version? When the LDS missionaries come to my house, I’m not offended. I know they’re doing what they believe to be right. Mormons should understand that I am doing
    the same. Should I tell the missionaries to “turn the other cheek” when they come to my house? No, they believe they are “contending for the faith” as Jude:3 says. That is what I try to do.
    I agree with you about the whole “abrasive” thing, however!

  12. Rick B says:

    Amanda, can I say you are Anti Christian because you do not agree with my view verses your view? I said this before and did a topic on my blog about it, WHAT IF, I dressed like a Mormon Missionary, put the Elder badge on, went to a house said I am from the LDS church, but then went on to teach my view of the Bible, would you think thats ok? If not, then why cannot I say, you are not a Christian, since you call your self a Christian but preach a different gospel.

    Then you have been asked before under different topics to list examples of the LDS beliefs that have been mis-characterized on here, I honestly do not recall you giving an answer.

    I have put up a link of my LDS library and showed I read them and study Mormonism. So why is it, I read your Book, go to your servives, even went to SLC for 2 weeks and I never seem to get your believes correct according to you guys.

    Amanda said

    I also believe it is ridiculous to say we think you hate us simply because you mis characterize what we believe.

    Please tell me what I Rick B said that was mis characterize of what you believe. Then you speak about how we do not give you charity or show love, what a joke. It is your Church that does that to us. I went to many LDS services and asked Honest questions, I was then asked to leave and never come back. I called the LDS church, asked if a Stake president or some one higher could come over and answer my questions, they said only the Missionarys could come over, I said, they are to young and do not understand enough to speak to me, I was told to bad then.

    where is the love to show an honest seeker the truth of where I am going wrong? Where is the charity from the LDS church? you guys simply label me as anti mormon and black list me, and your telling me I do not show you charity. YYYYYEEEEEEAAAA, Ok. Any thoughts or evidence Amanda? My door is always open to any mormon, they refuse to show me the love they ask for or correct me where I am wrong. Rick b

  13. Ralph says:

    Falcon, if you read I said the criterion was a belief in and FOLLOWING of Jesus Christ. Satan believes in Him but does not follow Him. Satan and the devils are subject to Jesus’ authority, but otherwise the do not obey/follow Him. But as I said, the Non-believers were the ones who termed ‘Christian’ so they are the ones who get to denote the meaning. Can you show me where they made a distinction between the ones who believed that circumcision was necessary and those who believed it wasn’t? Can you show me where they made a distinction between those who believed that certain aspects of the Law of Moses should still be practised and those that didn’t? Peter and Paul were at odds over some of these issues and both were termed Christian and died as matyrs for Christianity.

    Even the group gathered at Nicea to determine how to describe God (ie the Nicean Creed) had differing ideologies about God and His character, but all who were there were called Christians and represented Christianity, including those who believed in 3 seperate beings in the Godhead. After the conference, these were classed as heretics, but before then they were not – otherwise why were they represented at the conference?

    So the name “Christian” has changed meaning since the early days of Christianity to meet the needs of excluding certain religions. But as I said, the LDS church believes in the Biblical meaning – those who follow and believe in Jesus Christ, regardless of their differences.

  14. Megan says:

    Ralph, it’s not the title that matters but the meaning that matters when specifying what constitutes a Christian. The real question is, who is Jesus? The NT writers thought of him as God in human form; the god-man. I know I’ve cited this before, but take a look at Romans 10:9 again: “That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Although the term ‘Lord’ is sometimes used in the NT to refer to Jesus as master, in this case, and in several cases concerning Jesus, ‘Lord’ means Yahweh, or God. In the OT Yahweh refers to the ‘I AM’ of the burning bush (ex. 3;14-15). The name is associated with God’s covenant with Israel and speaks to the personal and relational nature of his character. The name of the Lord is the manifestation of his character. It has no separate existence apart from God but is synonymous with the Lord himself in his gracious manifestation and accessibility to his people. (This is all courtesy of my archeological study Bible).
    Both the OT and the NT are absolutely emphatic that there is one God. Yes, people worshipped other gods (who are really demons) but there is one God of the universe.

  15. falcon says:

    Maybe what we need to ask is “Is Mormonism Christian?” That’s pretty easy. Go back to the NT and find the doctrine of the Mormon Church. It’s not there. Then go back in the NT and find the doctrine of Biblical Christianity. The Bible defines it. Mormon doctrine started when….1830 or there abouts. Mormonism is not based on the NT. It’s based on what Joseph Smith claimed to be revelations to him from god. So Christianity is based on the Bible, not extraBiblical revelation. Therefore Mormonism can’t be considered Christianity. The doctrine is too far from Biblical Christianity which defines what Christianity is. Mormonism is a religion that borrows some characters and terms from Christianity, but it is basically a religion on to itself. Mormonism doesn’t show-up any where in the first 1800 years of the Christian Church.

  16. amanda says:


    Thank you for the question. The belief that is commonly mis characterized is pertinent to the context of this post. Evangelicals consistently mis characterize our belief in Grace and Works. The claim is made time and time again that mormons believe their works save them, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is Christ who has set the standard for HIS GRACE. He outlines this quite beautifully in the sermon on the mount, what he asks of us if we truly love Him…we keep His commandments…and evangelicals erroneously suggest that mormons think that it is those actions that save us, rather than Christs’ Grace. This erroneous conclusion is usually used as the foundation for suggesting we aren’t Christian simply because we believe there is more responsibility we have when we accept Christ.

    Evangelicals, do you think that your actions do not matter to Him? Mormon belief in the importance of obeying His commandments means they don’t truly believe in the Savior? Because the Savior just wanted us to say we believe in Him and we didn’t need to show it?

    Because we believe there are restored truths on the earth regarding His gospel, does not mean we don’t accept THE Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But many here chose to argue semantics as if that changes who we believe in. That stuff is for the birds.

    So if there were no other doctrinal fallacies on the part of evangelicals regarding mormon doctrine, this mis characterization of our ACTUAL beliefs regarding the Savior is the only important one.

  17. falcon says:

    Once again we have the term “restored truths”. In order for something to be restored, something needs to be lost. I wish someone would point me to the passages in the NT that supports the Mormon doctrines which Ev. Christians find most egregious. One example, Paul writing to Titus (1:6)instructs that an elder needs to be “the husband of one wife”. Joseph Smith clearly violated that Biblical directive. Here’s the thing, the Bible sets the norms/standards for Christianity. When someone comes along and says “I have a new revelation from God”, that revelation is held to the standard of what God reveals in His Word, the Bible. If the revelation violates God’s Word, that revelation is dismissed. This is why Mormonism is considered to be outside of normative Christianity. It’s basic doctrines depend on dubious revelation and not God’s Word.

  18. Michael P says:

    Amanda, here’s the thing: if you believe in Mormonism, but do not get baptized by a Mormon, do not partake of temple rituals, are never married, etc. are you saved?

  19. Megan says:

    Amanda, we have different definitions of what salvation means. According to Mormon doctrine, salvation by grace means that Christ’s death brought release from the grave and and brings universal resurrection. Beyond this, humans must earn their way to heaven (the Celestial Kingdom to you) through specific LDS ordinances, etc. Right? In contrast, the Bible says that salvation is not universal but is based on the belief of each individual (Romans 1:16; Hebrews 9:28; Ephesians 2:8,9). We believe that as soon as a person makes a life-changing commitment to Jesus, that person is saved and their eternal future is secure. They do not have to do certain ordinances to be with God in eternity.
    After spending so much time on this website, you should know by now that Evang. DO think our actions matter a great deal to God. But it’s an if/then sort of thing. IF we are saved, we will live in a way that pleases God, because the Holy Spirit indwells us and ennables us to live a regenerate life. Not, if we live in a way that pleases God we will be saved. See the difference?
    Eph. 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are saved by grace, but because we are saved, we do good works. If a person professes to be saved but does not live a regenerate life, one has to ask, is that person truly saved?
    I know this is not their intention, but aren’t Mormons minimizing Christ’s sacrifice when they say that good works get a person to the CK?

  20. Jeff B says:

    I actually had a talk about this with my LDS wife recently (The whole good works/salvation thing). It came up in Sunday school that day at her ward. I’m sad to say that the teacher and the lay members came off as “those ignorant traditional Christians think that all they have to do is trust and have faith in the Lord and that will provide his grace.” There are soooo many time I want to speak out, but I hold my tongue as I am not as well versed in scripture as I’m sure some of the 60 people in that class are.

    Amanda, I can only speak for myself when I say that I didn’t mis-characterize that belief, and I would say that its safe to say the people on this blog didn’t either as they have shown you they have studied Mormonism extensively and know their scriptures as well. I know that your good works DOESN’T save you, but makes you ELIGIBLE/worthy of God’s grace.

    And that is where we view it as a slap in the face of God and Christianity. Jesus Christ laid the foundation and did the works FOR us because He knew that sinful man could NEVER be worthy of God’s grace. That is when we ACCEPT his sacrifice and in turn do good works for the purpose of glorifying and giving ALL the glory to God. It’s our very faith in Christ being expressed not through lip-service, but our actions.

    Christians view grace comes first, works come after. Mormon’s view works come first, grace comes after. The only problem though, like I said before, is without the grace of Christ, no works will ever be enough to make you eligible of anything.

  21. Jeff B says:

    I re-read what I wrote and wanted to correct something. My last statement.

    “The only problem though, like I said before, is without the grace of Christ, no works will ever be enough to make you eligible of anything.”

    This is what I wanted to say and mean.

    The only problem though, like I said before, is without the grace of Christ, our works aren’t counted as righteous for it is solely by the free gift of grace and our faith that makes us justified and righteous.

    Ephesians 2:4 and 5:
    But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
    Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

    I especially want to draw attention to “dead in sins”. Think about it. For example, lets say I died today. If you’re dead, you are without any power – nothing you DO will bring you back to life. Then someone comes along and raises you from death out of his pure love and mercy for you. You THEN decide to live your life in a way that glorifies the person that raised you as a symbol of your gratitude, your love, your faith, and your trust.

    I think thanksgiving is a perfect time to reflect upon the love Jesus Christ has showed us.

  22. Rick B says:

    So Amanda, tell me, is my reading of this saying or teaching works is incorrect? If so how. It seems to me these are forms of works for salvation, unless I am wrong, this stuff MUST BE DONE for me to be saved.

    Prophet Spencer Kimball Achieving a Celestial Marriage manual pg 30 makes it very clear we must do certain things to enter the temple to be saved. he gives a list of 6 things called (TEMPLE RECOMMEND INTERVIEW). it says When you are interviewed for a temple recommend you will be asked about,

    1. Church attendance
    2. Payment of tithes and offerings
    3. Loyalty to Church leaders.
    4. Moral cleanliness.
    5. overall faithfulness and worthiness.
    6. Obedience to the Word of Wisdom.

    In Gospel Principles pg 125: WE MUST KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. To make our repentance complete we must keep the commandments of the Lord (see D and C 1:32). we are not fully repentant if we do not pay tithes or keep the sabbath day holy or obey the word of wisdom. we are not repentant if we don’t sustain the authorities of the church and don’t love the lord and our fellow man.

    Add to that also pg 241 Eternal marriage is ESSENTIAL FOR EXALTATION. Our exaltation depends on marriage. then over on pg 242 it says “and in order to obtain the highest, a man MUST ENTER INTO THIS ORDER OF THE PRIESTHOOD [MEANING THE NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT OF MARRIAGE];” “and if he does not, he cannot obtain it” (D and C 131:1-3) Rick b

  23. falcon says:

    My impression of the Catholic system I grew-up in was that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross made it possible for me to get to heaven if I was good enough. Now whether that is an accurate representation of the Catholic doctrine of faith works I don’t really know, but that was my reality. When I got saved I jumped into the arms of Jesus and rejoiced because I was set free from a performance based system. I could relax knowing that what Jesus did on that cross was sufficient for my salvation. I couldn’t add anything to it. Conforming to the character of Jesus is my goal not so I can get further up the organizational pyramid, but because I love Him.

  24. Jeff B says:

    Falcon! you stole my thunder.

    On the drive home from work yesterday I started to think of how the LDS like to declare that they don’t have a paid clergy.

    Now this is a “on the other side of the mirror” type thing.

    LDS people are probably the most giving, caring, well-mannered people on earth. The question is why?

    Is it because they wish to use the life God has given them to spread God’s love and in turn give ALL the glory to God. Or.. Is there a “paycheck” at the end of their life they are hoping to earn.

    Now, don’t jump me my LDS friends. I don’t make blanket generalizations on groups of people as everyone is individually different. I’m sure some of you are just genuinely giving.

    Regardless of how giving you are though, you still “know” that doing great works will earn you the celestial kingdom. My wife once asked me “If good works works isn’t necessary to earn salvation (Celestial Kingdom), why do anything at all?.. I replied “For the glory of God.”.. Hmm, go figure?

    I personally am just grateful that God sent his
    Son to earth to save my soul and raise me from my death in my sins. I didn’t receive a paycheck because I was never good enough for the job anyway. Jesus Christ was the only qualified individual to do the work. He has given his free gift to me and I will strive to walk in His path and attempt to direct as many people to His love and grace.

  25. GRCluff says:

    Your conclusion is quite valid. It is God who knows for sure who is right and who is Christian.

    As a 6th generation Mormon I have 2 comments to add:
    Mormons will say it IS God who tells them that Mormonism is right. It is an answer to prayer in every case. How is that NOT the Word of God?

    The “real” Christian is the who who really does talk to God, and then receives the answers they need to understand the written word. Anything less is not Christian at all.

    So we don’t agree on the nature of God, and don’t accept the Nicean Creed. We could turn the tables and insist that anyone who does accept the Nicean Creed is not christian and belongs to a cult, but that would not be a good example of Christian behavior, now would it?

  26. Rick B says:


    Just because you pray does not mean anything. Read the account of the slave girl in the book of acts, she was demon possesed, and was speaking the truth about Paul, but yet he rebuked the demon from her, then Paul in Gal 1:8-9 spoke of a different Gospel, You guys teach a different Gospel, Many LDS have admited as such.

    You might say your gospel is the correct one and it is ours that is different, but Paul said, if anyone preaches a gospel different from the one I preach, Mormonism is not the gospel that Paul preached. Rick b

  27. GRCluff says:

    What verse is repeated in the New Testament more than any other? Ask and ye shall find. Knock and it will be opened unto you. Is that not an invitation to pray from Christ himself? How can you say that prayer means nothing?

    What about James 1:5– If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God and it will be opened unto him. Mormons like myself will continue to insist that the Word of God HAS been opened unto us due to extended faith and prayer.

    I like Peter’s teachings in Acts, and the epistle of James, because those ideas match my own spiritual experiences a little better.

    Paul was active in correcting the early apostasy that abandoned the need for Grace. If you focus on Paul alone you could let Grace ride alone. The correct teachings will balance faith and grace properly to encourage repentance and change. The concept of Grace alone can encouage people not to change which can subvert Christianity entirely.

    The real Christian is the one who has enought faith to repent and follow Christ. That activity happens in the Mormon Chuch too. Like Christ taught– If you love me keep my commandments.

  28. Rick B says:

    Remember, Jesus said that many will say to him in the day of Judgement, Lord, Lord, did we not do mircales in YOUR name, did we not cast out demons in YOUR NAME. These people clearly thought they were saved and knew Jesus, but it turns out6 they did not.

    Lds is not the same gospel I believe, you guys do not teach what we believe, your not a Christian, many LDS leaders have even stated as such and those quotes have been posted before by Me and Jeff B and others. Rick b

  29. GRCluff says:

    It is not enough to recognize that our “gospels” are not the same. Every Christian church has differences of one kind or another.

    It is not even enough to recognize the significance of certian differnces between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity on the nature of God, or the purpose of life. (Although in practice and in politics Mormons are remarkably close to evangelicals)

    What really matters is which gospel is right, and which one is wrong. Two thousand years of tradition for mainstream Christianity could easily be two thousand years of gospel subversion.

    Many of us Mormons who love to study the Bible will insist that our “gospel” is clearly much closer to the teachings in the King James version, and the fact that the current Bible was assembled AFTER the Nicean Creed was signed into law and it’s distractors executed doesn’t help much.

    If we can’t agree on interpretation and completeness of Bible scripture then we are forced to rely on God’s promise to answer those who seek. I have my sure answer.

    What will you do on judgement day if/when God points out that the “different” gospel was yours?

  30. Rick B says:

    Everything you say has been covered before on this blog, but Briefly, your Gospel does not line up with that of Pauls teachings.

    Lds Teach Grace Plus works after all we can Do.

    Paul taught Grace alone.

    You guys Deny the Trinity, Jesus taught HE WAS GOD.

    You guys teach Millions of Gos exist, the point is not do you worship them or not, but the fact that they exist.

    The Bible teaches One God only.

    Just a couple of points, yet how do you figure that your view is closer to the truth than mine, since you cannot support that stuff from the Bible alone, you need added scriptures and added prophets to tell you this stuff is true. Rick b

  31. Megan says:

    GRcluff, the differences between denominations concern non-essential doctrines, not the doctrines which constitute the core of Christian theology. But like Rick B. said, this has been discussed before. I encourage you to look through the archived topics on this blog for further info.
    I’m not sure what you mean by your gospel being closer to the KJV. The Bible is the Bible, no matter what edition or translation it is. For example, the KJV is in Elizabethan English, while the NIV and NASB, etc., are in modern American English. But they’re the same Bible. I know people who go to more conservative denominations who only use the KJV. But they still believe the same core doctrines I do. So I don’t know what your point is.
    One thing I want to ask you is, why do you not believe the things in the Bible that are stated so clearly and emphatically? If the Bible explicitly teaches that God was never a man, then why do you believe something different?

  32. Jeff B says:

    I think I made my peace about the “pray for confirmation even though many evidences and logical reasoning suggests its false” thing. But something happened last night that I thought was kind of funny but it goes to show you that no matter what evidences are there or logical reasoning, people make their own reality and just will not let it go even though it’s entirely unfounded.

    My wife, her sister, and her sisters husband and me were all watching “The Hills” (a “reality” show) on TV lastnight. In one scene, a personal trainer had very short hair, like trimmed with a #1 guard on clippers short. In this scene, a couple girls asked him “Do you want to go to “Big Wangs” (a local sports-bar) tonight?” He replied “Sure!”

    Then when it switched to the scene where they are all at the sports bar, his hair was about 2 or 3 inches longer than it was that morning in the gym. I didn’t know hair can grow that fast in one day. So, I said to my sister in law “There, thats proof that this show is scripted. Logic and reasoning would say they shot the “Sports bar” scene BEFORE the gym scene in which they asked him to go the sports bar. Or, they simply went about a month after they invited him to go and his hair just grew”. She said nuh-uh, thats not true. Of course not having any evidence to back up her statement, but she made it a reality in her own mind that this show is an actual reality show and not scripted. Her husband (LDS) actually agreed with me and so we poked fun at her for a little bit. “I ended it with saying, your heart will always tell you what you want to hear, but logic and reasoning beat it.”

    So, for you to say somethings true because of a “good feeling” you received when praying, makes it only a reality for you, not for anyone else. I’m sure terrorists don’t feel bad when praying about killing innocents and receiving many virgins when they die for their religion. I bet they feel just as good as you do when you pray about Joseph Smith.

  33. Rick B says:

    Jeff b,
    When you said that terrorists don’t feel bad when praying about killing innocents and receiving many virgins when they die for their religion.

    My question or thoughts on this are, Do the leaders have evidence the killers will get the girls in the next life or are you simply blindly believing?

    If the leaders tell the people this, it makes me wonder why they themselves do not go out on a sucide mission, do they know something they are not telling the followers?

    If they say, well since we are the leaders, we will get a reward that equels your or better, then I would think every one would want to be a leader then, but nope, people believe lies simply because they want to. Rick b

  34. Jeff B says:

    Well of course mindlessly killing innocents has no right reason or logic behind it, but instead, people tend to ignore reason or logic when they are promised such “wonderful” things.

    Why believe what the Bible says about multiple God’s when you can add “You can become an all-powerful God yourself!” and believe in that instead.

  35. GRCluff says:

    I will name 3 biblical evidences to start my “bible alone” support:

    1. Acts 7:56
    … I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.

    How does God stand on this own right side?

    2. John 17:20-22
    … that they may be one, even as we are one.

    Do we all join hands now and become one in substance?

    3. The baptism of Jesus, 3 entities involved.

    More detail? Try this link:

    Yes, the nature of God is at the core of theology and mainstream Christianity has it wrong. Joseph Smith taught that it is impossible to exercise true faith without a true concept of the nature of God. No wonder people have such a hard time getting answers to prayer.

    You may find that the verses I quote above actually say something different in your alternative translations. Use the KJV to see my point.

    I’m sure that terrorists get a good feeling in self confirmation but you are missing my point. I said I have a sure answer to my prayers, not just a good feeling. You need to practice “true” prayer for a while before you understand the difference. The terrorists aren’t doing it any better than mainstream Christianity it would seem.

    How do you feel about my biblical evidence and logical reasoning above? Do you accept the 3rd century creed (Nicean Creed) over Christ himself? That is more foolish that following his (Christ’s) counsel to seek, knock and pray to find truth. Do you honestly think He would ask us to pray for answers when we can never expect to get any? Is that the logic you prefer?

  36. Jeff B says:


    Let me ask you this. Who are you to say that I’m not receiving an answer to my prayers and who are you to say that the terrorists aren’t receiving answers to their prayers? It would seem you have a monopoly on God answering only LDS prayers eh?

    Lets look at your statement here

    “Joseph Smith taught that it is impossible to exercise true faith without a true concept of the nature of God. No wonder people have such a hard time getting answers to prayer.”

    If you need to have a clear concept of the nature of God, why did Joseph Smith who was completely clueless when it came to God’s nature when he was 14 years old and received an answer to his prayer in the forest? With your reasoning, Joseph Smith not knowing who/what God really is wouldn’t have received an answer. Contradictory?

    GRCluff, I have asked 10 Mormons to describe their “spiritual confirmation” during prayer, and EVERY time they described it as a “wonderful, warm, peaceful, happy feeling.” And sometimes they would have “tingles up their spine.” That would say to me they feel the Holy Spirit witnesses through a confirming feeling.

    I am trying to find the talk by one of your own apostles describing how the Holy Spirit witnesses through feelings but there has been a lot of blogs since. If anyone knows where I can reference it, I would appreciate it.

    I will tackle your Acts 7:56 verse in a post after this one. I will reference an article that I believe explains it rather clearly. If you just pick and choose one verse instead of comparing and contrasting with other verses, I can see where you would make the mistake..

  37. Jeff B says:

    For an explanation of Acts 7:56 I have came across this site. I am not as well versed in the Bible as some, so I don’t expect my response would hold much weight, so I did some homework for you.

    Scroll down to the blue writing which reads “Who will we see in Heaven?”

    In italics is a question by a person that was pretty much the same as yours.

    The writer starts of with basic Biblical Theology on God. He offers two verses. John 1:18 states “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” 1 Timothy 6:16 states “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

    Paul states in Corinthians that Christ is the image of the invisible God. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Col. 2:9)

    That’s why, when Philip asked to see the Father, Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

    GRcluff, for sake of space, I ask that you open the link and read the paragraph starting with “Here’s something odd to consider..” It will help you with understanding what is written below –

    Perhaps what we will “see” will be something like what Stephen saw in his vision before he died. You drew particular attention to that vision, so let’s look at it for a moment. Stephen, Luke says, “saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55) Now, notice something peculiar: Luke does not say that Stephen saw God and Jesus, but that he saw “the glory of God” and Jesus standing at God’s right hand.

    If you are seeking for sound biblical teaching, I pray that you open the link and do the 3 minutes of reading. Much love.

  38. GRCluff says:

    Given that God is not the author of confusion, and would never answer your prayers any differently than he has answered mine, I would have to say that yes, it is a monopoly of sorts. Maybe not a monopoly so much as the fact that everyone who gets an answer ends up joining the Mormon church. That is the nature of the seeking and finding activity that Jesus repeatedly endorsed.

    I would say there are at least 4 prerequisites to getting an answer to prayer. Joseph Smith may not have understood the true nature of God, but he met all 4 requirements.

    1. Faith in Christ– which means you have to be willing to repent and live all of God’s commandments. (So much for the coffee theme)

    2. Sincere heart – you have to really want to know.

    3. Real intent – You have to be willing to follow God’s direction when it is recognized.

    4. Humility, or at least a valid recognition our our true position before God. We need his direction as much as we need his Grace. Our own understanding is not enough, no matter how much we study the Bible.

    Do this, and you will get the same answer I got. You will know then that God really does answer prayers.

  39. Jeff B says:

    Okay, so then you are retracting your statement you made earlier? see below. It would be helpful to me if you wouldn’t jump around on how its possible to receive answers to prayer. I will take your “4 requirements” as your final say on the matter.

    “Joseph Smith taught that it is impossible to exercise true faith without a true concept of the nature of God. No wonder people have such a hard time getting answers to prayer.”

    Let me give you a little History lesson about myself and we will see if I match up with your pre-req’s.

    1. Do I have faith in Christ? Absolutely, why else would I be trying to explain his deity. I have full faith in Christ, knowing full well that even though I am dead in my sins, Christ offers his grace to me because of my faith. Do I follow his commandments? – I have struggled with sin just as everyone has, but repented of them and my will every day is to abstain from sin. So, check?

    2. Sincere heart – I prayed about the truthfulness of the BoM when I was weeping next to my LDS wife. I asked God to take away all of my existing belief structure and bias’ and to have the Holy Spirit speak truth to my Soul because it is all I want to hear.. I’m not saying this for show, I was in a real spiritual and emotional mind set at that moment. I prayed 4 other times for confirmation. So.. Check?

    3. Did I have real intent? – read above. Check?

    4. Do I have humility? If you read all the blog posts I have made above, I would say my understanding of Jesus’ being our ONLY way to heaven and that nothing I do can ever merit my worthiness would show that I am humble.

    Did I get the same answer you got? No, GRCluff, I didn’t. I didn’t get any answer about the truth of the LDS church in all 5 times I prayed. Why? I thought I met all your pre-req’s?

    Sometime GRCluff, we tend to feel real good about stuff when we want it to be true and we ask about it. Just like when we feel bad when someone doesn’t agree with our beliefs.

    So did you read that link I posted?

  40. Rick B says:

    I have over 600 posts on the Fairlds Boards, I spent much time reading and posting on that board. I met many an LDS member who said that they prayed about the BoM and NEVER RECIVED an Answer. yet they still believe the BoM to be true.

    So you have LDS who believe yet they did not get an answer to prayer, so does this mean, A. they have a blind faith? B. they do not meet the reqyuirments you laid out for Jeff, or C. their is something I am missing?

    Then I also prayed about the BoM, I was answered by God, he told me, Acts 17:11, search the scriptures.

    Sad thing is, almost every LDS tells me God never spoke to me and said that. Why can you tell me God did not say that to me, but yet I am to believe God spoke to you? And why is it if I get a different reply from God, that is either JS is a false Prophet or Search the Scriptures then I am wrong or not seeking with a sincere heart? Rick b

  41. GRCluff says:

    Not a retraction, just an elaboration. If JS didn’t have a good idea on the nature of God when he started his prayer he may have had a better idea on the subject before it ended.

    I am disappointed. You gave God only 5 chances? I started to get a better idea how it worked at about 500, but I am more hard headed than most. Maybe I should say hard hearted– because that is what had to soften first.

    The first communication I got was about things I had to change about myself. That could have come from my own mind I guess, but it was the key I needed, because when I was able to follow through with the changes I was free to move on to the next step.

    It is not about feeling good, really, it is about learning things you don’t already know, then the realization that two-way communication with God is possible. It is something outside of your own feelings–above and beyond. I know what feelings are, but this was like having the light turned on in a dark room for the first time. It was a flood of ideas, thoughts and instructions really, all things I had never really considered before.

    You call it a good feeling again, I may have to slap you. Can I do that in a blog entry?

    Oh, I did spend 5 minutes reviewing your links. It looked like a lot of apologetics on the nature of God. I am well beyond that, I’m afraid.

  42. Megan says:

    GRCluff, I have been reading your “conversation” (you know, in a cyber-space sense) between you and Jeff B. If you don’t mind me butting in, I want to comment on two things in your posts. The first is, I noticed something very important missing from your 4 requirements on getting answers from God. You should have included the fact that answers from God should line up with the truth he has revealed to us in the Bible. If these “answers” are contrary to the Bible, they should be discarded as garbage. One of the functions of the Bible is to serve as an important safeguard when seeking wisdom from God. Disregard the Bible, and you wind up in trouble. For example, what if a man covets his neighbor’s wife, follows the 4 steps you listed, and receives the answer that not only is it fine and dandy for him to sleep with this woman, but God actually wants him to do such a thing? The Bible forbids such an action. Indeed, in the OT such an action deserved death by stoning. (Yes, I used this example because Joseph Smith did such a thing with different women).
    The second thing I want to say is, if you are not interested in reading Evang. apologetics on the nature of God, you really are not being fair. I believe most of us on here try to fairly and dispassionately (well, oftentimes passionately too) consider info. and evidence from the other side. It would be intellectually unfair and arrogant of me to brush off Mormon claims without investigating them. Pleae don’t do the same to those you disagree with.

  43. Rick B says:

    GRCluff said

    If JS didn’t have a good idea on the nature of God when he started his prayer he may have had a better idea on the subject before it ended.

    How could Joseph Smith have a good idea on the nature of God, he was told by God himself that ALL the churches were wrong and to trust none of them. if they were all wrong and he was going to them, then it would stand to reason he could not know any thing about the nature of God before hand. Rick b

  44. Jeff B says:

    GRCluff, I’m done speaking reason to you, it is true when you say you are hard-headed. Your claims come off rather arrogant. You refuse not only the simple truths of the Bible, but you come on here to state your case and not really have a discussion. You even contradict yourself. Example –

    “Joseph Smith taught that it is IMPOSSIBLE to exercise TRUE FAITH WITHOUT a TRUE CONCEPT of the nature of God. No wonder people have such a hard time getting answers to prayer.”

    His writings before his prayer to God show that he was rather clueless to the nature of God, therefore he DIDN’T have a TRUE CONCEPT of God. Especially so because later on it is revealed in LDS history that God the Father has flesh and bones and was once a man, God the father had a Father God, etc.

    Thinking that God is God from all eternity is hardly HAVING A TRUE CONCEPT of the nature of God according to LDS beliefs.

    So, Joseph Smith couldn’t exercise true faith because he didn’t have a true concept of God.

    I prayed 5 times so far because I don’t choose to keep praying about it when I’m not particularly moved to do so. To me, thats like a child in the back seat asking “Are we there yet?” over and over.. I want to really mean it when I pray. REGARDLESS, I met GRCLUFF’s requirements, why didn’t God answer me? If God really wants me to know the truth, why does he hold it from me when I honestly seek it? You said –

    Do this, and you will get the same answer I got. You will know then that God really does answer prayers.

    The sad thing is, GRCluff, by you failing to research BOTH sides of the story, you will always be single-minded and walk through blinders on the rest of your life. If an LDS member gives me a link to an LDS apologetic resource, I read it and examine the possibility. You putting your fingers in your ears doesn’t help much.

  45. Rick B says:

    To add to what Jeff said, it is sad that LDS make the claim us so called anti-mormons do not want the truth or to hear your side. We research and look into both sides, Our knowaldege of Mormonism be it little or a lot show we looked into both sides, Yet here you are an LDS telling us you are wasting your time looking into both sides, If thats the case then their is really no point as Jeff said in speaking to you. Rick b

  46. GRCluff says:

    I have a couple points of clarification. Sorry to be the source of so much confusion.

    First, on the need to understand the nature of God before getting an answer to prayer let me clarify. JS taught (in his Lectures on Faith) that the ablilty to exercise faith was limited by our having a CORRECT idea on the nature of God. Who are we to say that his ideas on the nature of God were wrong when he started his prayer? Regardless, if our claims are right (and I believe they are) then JS saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, just like Stephen. Don’t you think that would give him a pretty good idea about the nature of God? Especially when he said, while pointing to the other: This is my Beloved son, hear him (like he said at Christ’s baptism) He would have a crystal clear idea at that point, would he not?

    Second, on giving equal time, etc. my spending so much time here should demonstrate some level of open mindedness. It’s true I have made up my mind on the nature of God and I have dismissed the Trinitarian arguments. You could show me a link to convince me that world was flat (yes I chose that example because those who developed the Trinity concept believed as such until just just 200 years ago) and I would dismiss that as well because I know better.

    Those who developed the Trinity argument would quickly and eazily execute me today, just because I believe the world is round. Thats how you build a real monopoly, kill all the opposition. The concensus you seek was built just that way. It took God 1700 years to break it. so don’t kill the messenger. Oh wait, I guess they already did.

  47. GRCluff says:

    You bring up a good point, and I agree wholeheartedly. New revelation should never conflict with scripture, as long as it has remained uncorrupted and translated correctly.

    That brings up a couple questions. The Bible mentions Baptism for the dead (1 Cor. 15:29) and JS recieved revelation to re-introduct that activity. Does this mean you accept that priciple? LDS is the only Church that does it today.

    Also, the Bible says Abraham was commanded by God to take his maid servant to wife (his 2nd), so if JS really didn’t want another wife (failed to covet) would he be OK?

  48. Jeff B says:

    GRCluff, I’m glad you said this –

    “JS saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, just like Stephen.”

    I can point to many verses, and if you read the link you would know them, that say no one has Seen God, EXCEPT in Christ Jesus. You said “Glory of God” which the Bible refers to, but not God the Father of flesh and bones as Joseph Smith purportedly saw him. Biblically its impossible. It’s failure to take into context the verse with other passages of scripture that lead one into believing God the Father has a body. Stephen saw the “Glory of God”, much like Moses saw the Glory of God in a burning bush.

    You can accept that or not of course, which I’m sure you wont or else you have to deny the teachings of your prophet. It’s ironic that you have to choose the prophet over the Word of God.

    You said “The Bible mentions Baptism for the dead (1 Cor. 15:29) and JS recieved revelation to re-introduct that activity.”

    Again this is a verse taken out of context. It doesn’t say why then are WE baptized for the dead. It say’s why then are THEY baptizes for the dead. And here’s a little history for you regarding that.

    “Just north of Corinth was a city named Eleusis. This was the location of a pagan religion where baptism in the sea was practiced to guarantee a good afterlife.”

    That has been mentioned over and over but of course the LDS can’t accept that piece of history and still hold on to the divine appointment of their prophet.

  49. Rick B says:

    GRCLuff said

    Also, the Bible says Abraham was commanded by God to take his maid servant to wife

    Please provide the exact chapter and verse for this. I know Abraham took Hagar, but not because God Commanded him, but because Sarah told him to. Rick b

  50. Rick B says:


    Still waiting for that verse, is this going to be another case where the Mormonism is wrong, so instead of admitting they were wrong, they simply disappear?

    Man the LDS come down hard on the non-LDS for either getting it wrong, or when the LDS think we get it wrong. Anyway I would like the verse, or admit JS was wrong since God did not commanded him, and that would make him a false Prophet. Rick b

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