Questions: Are Mormons Christians

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Questions at a Recent Public Meeting

Questions about Church members

Recently, one unit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a public information session entitled "Are Mormons Christians?" Many members and non-members attended, including clergy from other denominations. Written questions were taken from the audience, and answered extemporaneously.

These questions are reproduced below by the kind permission of those who held the fireside. FAIR volunteers have here suggested some answers to these questions—many of which are commonly asked—and then provided links to further material for interested members and non-members who wish to learn more about these issues.

Latter-day Saints as Christians

Question: If Mormons believe their church is the only true church on earth, wouldn’t it be more important to define the differences in Mormonism and not be so concerned with whether others consider you Christian or not?

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that their first and most important duty is to testify of Christ. They have each made a covenant to "stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places that [they] may be in, even unto death, that [they] may be redeemed of God and be numbered with those of the first resurrection" (Mosiah 18:9). Therefore, Latter-day Saints consider themselves honor-bound to rebut the common claim that they are not Christians.

Furthermore, Latter-day Saints do not wish for those who hear them to abandon the knowledge and faith in Christ which they already possess. Rather, they hope only to add to what non-members already believed about Jesus. It would be counterproductive, then, to focus on differences without first making clear the great truth that Latter-day Saints believe with the rest of the Christian world—that Jesus was the Son of God, that he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, and was resurrected the third day to reign in glory forever and ever.

The focus of tonight’s presentation seemed to stress that Mormonism is like other “Christian denominations.” That seems odd, given that Joseph Smith’s reason for founding Mormonism was that all the existing Christian denominations were wrong. Please explain this apparent contradiction.

Joseph's reason for restoring the Church was that God told him that all existing Christian denominations were in error in some way(s). They had also lost the priesthood authority of God.

It was the Bible that lead Joseph to his decision to pray to God. He believed that the Bible was true and a guide to life, but was confused by the fact that each denomination understood it differently—correctly concluding that God was not the author of such confusion, he sought to learn the correct path to walk.

Latter-day Saints do not wish to be confused with "other Christian denominations." But, they strongly object to being told that they are not Christian at all.

Question: Luther never denied the deity of Christ, thus allowing him to be a Christian.

Joseph Smith and Latter-day Saints do not deny the deity of Christ either—they insist upon it. We agree that neither Luther or Latter-day Saints should be considered non-Christians.

Question: The classification of Christian that secularists have given you is representative of the advertising you have put out.

ANSWER

Question: A comment: I may not agree with your doctrine, but I think those who worship Christ should support one another. United we stand, divided we fall.

ANSWER

Question: You are presenting many different ideas or groups who claim Christianity, but all do not hold to the same truth. So, who is right? There can be only one truth. All others are false.

ANSWER

Question: I find the term "Christian" to be vague by your definition. What should be shown is whether or not the LDS Church adheres to the Bible and if LDS doctrine is in sync with biblical teachings. Which book is superior?

ANSWER


Salvation


ANSWER

Question: What must a Mormon do to attain eternal life forever with God?

Eternal life is a gift from God. He promises us this gift if we enter into and keep a covenant with Christ. This covenant is made through faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. As part of the covenant, members promise to serve God and Christ and to walk in newness of life through the grace of God.

Explain the works part of your ministry? Is this mandatory, and why?

Answer

Question: If salvation is not by faith alone, how can man be forgiven?

ANSWER

Question: Are Mormons born again?

Answer

Question: The Bible clearly states that the New Testament brings GRACE by the bloodshed of Jesus Christ. The two new commandments are 1) love your Lord your God with all your heart, and 2) love your neighbor as you would love yourself. So, because you believe in works, why did Christ have to die on the cross for our sins if you can work for your own salvation? Hebrews 10:12.

ANSWER

Question: In Ephesians 2:8-9 it says that we have been saved through grace by faith, not of works, so no man can boast. But compared to 2 Nephi 25:23 it says that "we are saved after all we can do." Why is this verse saying that we must work to attain eternal life when Ephesians says otherwise?

ANSWER


Jesus

Question: In Mormonism, is it believed that Jesus is God’s only Son? Because it has been stated that all people are literal spirit children of God, yet in John 3:16 it states that “God sent His only son...."

Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of the Father. This means that only he has God as the father of his physical, mortal body.

To be a spirit child of God is an entirely separate matter.

John 1:1, 14 teach that Jesus is God, God the Son. Philippians 2:5-11 clearly indicate that Jesus is “equal with God,” but gave up his place with the Father to become the Savior of mankind. Why does the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS not teach this truth?

The Church does teach this truth. Jesus was God. He voluntarily gave up his exalted state, and condescended to come to earth to become the savior, in accordance with the will of the Father. He was resurrected and returned to dwell in glory with the Father, exactly as this scripture teaches.

Question: The Bible teaches in Colossians 1:16 and John 1:1-3 and other places that Jesus created all things, including Satan. How does this work with the Mormon view that Jesus is a created being and Satan’s brother?

Question: If Christ is a created being, please explain how Christ created everything but himself. According to John 1:3, all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Christ could not have been created and yet create everything that was made.

Question: Jesus is not Satan’s brother.

ANSWER

"Only one God" and the Trinity

Is there more than one God in the Godhead? ["Godhead" is an LDS term often used as other Christians use the term "Holy Trinity.]

This question turns on the question of how language is used. In one sense, there is only one God. In another sense, there are three beings to whom the title "God" is rightly applied: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Thus, in one sense the answer is, "No," because these personages together make up "one God." In another sense, the answer is "Yes." One must first be clear about which sense one means before answering the question. And, in answering the question, one must realize that the other sense is not suddenly false.

All Christian groups must grapple with this issue. Much of Christianity settled on the Nicene creed as a solution. The Latter-day Saints reject that solution as extra-biblical.

To learn more:

Question: Isaiah 44:6, 8 says: “I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” “Is there a god beside me? Yes, there is no god; I know not any.” The LDS Church does not believe God is the first or the last and believes there are a host of other gods. How do you answer scripture on this point?

Question: Teachings of Joseph Smith, p. 370 --- Joseph Smith teaches multiple gods. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577 --- “As each of these persons is a God, it is evident from this standpoint alone that a plurality of Gods exists.” How does this compare with Isaiah 44:6-8, Psalms 90:2, Isaiah 43:10?

Question: In the King Follett discourse, Joseph Smith said, “You have got to learn to become gods yourselves, the same as all gods have done before you.” How does this work with clear verses like Isaiah 43:10 (Please read aloud . . .)

Question: How do you explain these two verses? Isaiah 43:10-11 (lists passage)

ANSWER HERE

Question: I believe Jesus and God are the same in substance. How can this Jesus be the same as the Mormon Jesus? My Jesus is God, yours is not.

ANswer here

Question: In light of the fact that the early Church Fathers all believed that God was agenetos (uncreated), how do you justify your attempt to correlate their doctrine of theosis with the LDS belief that God was a man who progressed to become a god?

ANSWER HERE

Question: How do you justify believing in Christ while denying his deity? Jesus says, "I and my Father are one. No one comes to the Father but by me." Mormonism says , "Jesus is the Son of God, but not God. Jesus is Satan’s brother, God’s spirit child. These two beliefs cannot be found in the Bible (untouched by Mormons), and so are heretical, discounting the truth of the Christ Mormons believe in.

ANSWER HERE

Theosis or Humans Becoming Like God


Question: In what ways, specifically, can Mormons become like God?

Latter-day Saints accept the teachings of the Bible that the Saints can become like God and Christ. We regard Christ as the model or pattern toward which the believer is journeying:

  • Said Jesus, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Revelation 3:21).
  • "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3).
  • "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:17).

Latter-day Saints are always mystified when creedal Christians dispute this point—the Bible teaches clearly that the believer will be like Christ in every way: a joint-heir with him of his glories, attributes, and powers, through his grace.

To learn more:'

Question: In DC 132:37, it says we have the ability to become gods. Is that Christian? Nowhere in the Bible does it state that we can become gods. If so, where?

  • Said Jesus, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Revelation 3:21).
  • "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3).
  • "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:17).

This belief, although contrary to the views of some conservative Protestants, is entirely Christian. Many early Christian writers and thinkers discussed it:

  • Irenaeus: "We were not made gods at our beginning, but first we were made men, then, in the end, gods."[1]
  • Clement of Alexandria: "yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god."[2]
  • Justin Martyr: "[By Psalm 82] it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming “gods,” and even of having power to become sons of the Highest."[3]

There are many others.

In addition, such Christian groups as the eastern orthodox continue to hold the belief today. It is the modern conservative Protestant, not the Latter-day Saint, that is out of step with the larger sweep of Christian thought and belief on this issue.

Latter-day Saints are always mystified when creedal Christians dispute this point—the Bible and the early Christians teach clearly that the believer will be like Christ in every way: a joint-heir with him of his glories, attributes, and powers, through his grace. They were not shy about using the term "god" to describe this state.

To learn more:'


Another gospel?

{{QandA|Question: Galatians 1:6, 59 A.D. Paul said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” Why have the LDS moved from the Gospel of the Bible? “Let him be accursed who moves away!” Galations 1:9

Question: Galatians 1:8-10 --- No other Gospel!

The authors of these questions are "begging the question"—they are assuming that which they wish to prove. They are presuming that their version of Christian doctrine and belief is true, and assuming that it was the same as the doctrine taught to Paul's converts in Galatia.

Latter-day Saints agree with this scripture—but, insist that because of apostasy, the doctrine, rites, and practices of modern "creedal Christians" have been altered from the days of Paul. This is a good example of why an appeal to our own Bible interpretation alone can never resolve the question of God's truth. These issues are discussed further in the section below.

Question: How can you be sure the angel Moroni was sent by God? Please explain Galatians 1:8-9.

The question can be turned around: how can the critic be sure that the angel Moroni was not sent by God? Such matters can only be settled by appealing to God for an answer, as discussed below.

Testimony and determining truth

Question: Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, etc. all have prayed about the truth of their beliefs. How is your prayer test objective?

This question presumes that these other faith groups use prayer to God to determine the truth of their beliefs. In fact, it has not been our experience that most religious groups (including those mentioned) used prayer for knowledge in the way enjoyed upon Latter-day Saints.

The question could also be turned around and posed to the questioner with even greater force: Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Hindus all have holy texts which they study and regard as evidence for their beliefs, just as Christians have their Bibles. All of them are convinced that their holy texts are accurate, and that the interpretation which they give them is the correct one which will lead them to God. How is your reading of the Bible or your holy book "objective"? How do you know that you have gotten it right and they are all wrong?

Quite simply, there is no "objective" test for a spiritual reality that will convince another person. A conservative Protestant's reading of the Bible is no more objective than a Mormon's reading of the same Bible, or a Muslim's reading of the Qu'ran. All may be sincere, all may do their best, but all cannot be right.

The only being who cannot be mistaken is God. Thus, only God may confirm or correct our best conclusions. The Bible insists: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God" (James 1:4). Latter-day Saints encourage all who hear their message to study it and come to their best conclusion, and then to ask God in the name of his Son if the message is true.

Question: 2 Timothy 3:16 and John 17:17 establish the truth of God’s word. Is the Bible, the word of God, still true if I am not so convinced by a feeling or spiritual experience? John 14:6 --- Jesus stated that He is the Truth.

Something remains true regardless of what we believe, feel, or experience about it. But, why ought we conclude that the Bible is true? What would we say to the Muslim or Hindu equally convinced that their book is true? One cannot appeal to the Bible's claims that it is true as evidence—after all the Qu'ran and the Book of Mormon also claim to be true.

Critics on this point must realize that only something from outside a holy book or religious teaching can prove the truth or falsity of the book or teaching. And, Latter-day Saints believe the only reliable source is God—not fallible humans' interpretations of a book, however holy or inspired.

Question: Can we trust our hearts through the Holy Spirit’s revelation through the burning of the bosom? The Bible says that our hearts are the most deceitful of all things (Jeremiah 17:9). How do we know real truth?

ANSWER

Scripture

Are the Bible & Book of Mormon equally important for LDS?

The Book of Mormon itself says that one of its roles is to reinforce and confirm the truth of the Bible, just as the Bible will reinforce and confirm the truth of the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 3:12). Asking which is more important is a bit like asking which eye a person values more—both provide valuable insight, and one would rather have one than none, but the view is better with both than with either separately.

How can you say that you believe the Bible is the word of God if it is fallible?

Latter-day Saints believe the Bible to be the Word of God because of the testimony of the Holy Ghost which is in them. Because God bears witness through his Holy Spirit of the truth, Latter-day Saints are not troubled by the need for a person or text to be "perfect" or "incapable of error" for God to teach them His truths through it.

Only God is without error and infallible—he is able to do his own work, and teach truth from any source in which it is to be found.

If the Bible is not believed to be inerrant, how do you determine what to believe and not to believe? Is the Book of Mormon believed to be inerrant?

See above for the first part of this question. For the second part: no, the Book of Mormon expressly says that it is not inerrant. Because Latter-day Saints use scripture as a step to receiving direct revelation, and not the final step in their process of determining truth, they do not require infallible prophets or infallible books. They need only trust in the Spirit of the infallible God.


Book of Mormon and science

Question: With all the civilizations and battles in NA & SA, where is the archeological evidence of these civilizations and battles?

ANSWER

Question: The story of the Mormon church is that Hebrew tribes came and settled in North and South America. And these were the Native Americans. Yet, DNA evidence shows Native Americans are from the Asian background, not Jewish.

The Book of Mormon speaks only of two or three small groups from the Middle East that settled somewhere in the Americas. It does not require that these be the only peoples before, during, or after Book of Mormon times. Church writers and leaders have been saying this for over a century.

ANSWER

Question: Comparing the Book of Mormon with the Holy Bible: how do you explain that every landmark and war battle referenced in the Bible can be historically proven using other historical documents, while the wars/battles and landmarks referenced in the Book of Mormon cannot? There are no archaeological evidence or historical references besides Mormon documents.

In the first place, this claim is false. There are many Biblical sites which have yet to be identified archaeologically, and many sites that are disputed.

In the second place, the world of the Bible enjoys several advantages over the New World setting for the Book of Mormon:

  • the cities in the Bible have been continually inhabited from the time of the Bible to the present. By contrast, much of the New World has not even been explored or excavated by archaeology.
  • the languages spoken at the time of the Bible are closely related to the languages now spoken in the area, and these languages are well-understood by scholarship. By contrast, there is no pre-Columbian settlement in the New World for which we know the pre-Columbian name. Even if we had a Nephite city, how would we know when we have only (say) a Spanish name for it?

A final mistake in this question presumes that a historical site somehow "proves" that the Bible is true. It does not. The site of the city of Troy has been found, but this does not "prove" that the Greek gods of the Iliad are true gods, or that it's account is accurate.

To learn more:

Question: The Bible references cities that are still standing and backed by maps today. Why can’t the same be said for the Book of Mormon?

Answer

Question: What historical concrete evidence exists to prove the basis of plates or any other Mormon beliefs? Why has land never been excavated?

Answer

Miscellaneous

Who is your living prophet?

The current president of the Church (usually called "the prophet") is Thomas S. Monson. He is assisted by two counselors and Twelve apostles, all of whom are sustained by the Church as "prophets, seers, and revelators."

In a different sense, all Latter-day Saints aspire to be "prophets," since "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). Like Moses we "would God that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:29).

Question: Do you believe there are people who follow a false Christ? How would you define what a false Christ is?

ANSWER

Question: Why do Mormons baptize the dead when they are already dead?

ANSWER

Question: Genesis clearly states that God created the earth, the stars, the skies, and everything in it. A man with a lifetime of education who doesn’t know the Lord is a fool.

ANSWER

Brigham Young stated, "The Christian God is the Mormon’s devil." Do you (the LDS Church) still believe that statement, or was Brigham Young a false prophet?

ANSWER

Does the Mormon church teach that God had a physical union with Mary to conceive Jesus?

ANSWER

Did you say you bless the bread and the water(?) in your ordinance?

ANSWER

Did Brigham Young teach the Adam-God doctrine?

ANSWER

The question about the use of the title "Christian" is not an important one. More importantly, why does the LDS Church continue to hold Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Erastus Snow, etc. as prophets when countless prophecies that they have made have been proven false?

ANSWER

Endnotes

  1. Henry Bettenson, The Early Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasius (London: Oxford University Press, 1956), 94. ISBN 0192830090.
  2. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, 3.1 see also Clement, Stromateis, 23.
  3. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 124.
Do You Have Questions?
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