Friday, September 26, 2008

Are Mormons Christian?


"Are Mormons Christian? By self-definition and self-identity, unquestionably so. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms that it is a Christian-faith denomination, a body of believers who worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and who witness that salvation is possible only by his atoning blood and grace. By the simple dictionary definition of a Christian as one who believes in or worships Jesus Christ, the case is compelling. To the title Christian a critic of Mormonism may add any modifiers he deems appropriate—unorthodox, heretical, non-Nicene, different—but blanket assertions that we are not Christian are a poor substitute for informed argument and dialogue" (Bruce D Porter, "Is Mormonism Christian?".)

13 comments:

NM said...

Hello again Mr. Clean Cut =)

Ok, so for the first controversial question: would you consider Valentinianism christian?

Nat

Clean Cut said...

What difference does it make?

Clean Cut said...

I mean, what does it matter if I consider them Christian or not--seriously. Some people worry more about crossing the t's and dotting the i's than what actually matters most--that we've given our hearts to Christ. Furthermore, some people come up with the most interesting qualifiers for what is or is not a Christian. For example, after reviewing that "First Things" article which I provided the link to entitled "Is Mormonism Christian?", one evangelical made a statement on his blog in which he ultimately said: “I believe that the decisions of the councils, viewed through the lens of Scripture, are defining as boundary markers for what a Christian is.”

If this were true, then certainly Mormons would not be Christians, but the same would also hold true for the original and authentic New Testament Christians of the first century. They certainly did not use the decisions of post-biblical councils to define themselves as “Christian.”

NM said...

First of all, I would concur: it is God who ultimately decides, not man. But saying that, there is something very important about defending the message of the gospel. I guess Valentinianism had 'other truths' and overlaid it with Biblical truth, so what we get is an amalgamation of something that isn't Christianity.

I believe there are many people whose lives have been transformed by God's saving grace - and who do not ascribe themselves to any church, but their lives will bear fruit to show that they belong to Him, agree?

I think my initial question to you, was to gauge your position in relation to other organisations who might consider their creeds/affirmations as Christian, but are probably not.

Take Islam for example, who acknowledge the existence of Jesus. Just because they acknowledge Him doesn't mean that they are Christian...there has to exist a core truth, right?

Clean Cut said...

I see what you're saying. And I agree that there needs to be a core truth. I think that adherence to the Bible perhaps may provide that, and there is not one passage of the Bible that Latter-day Saints do not accept as the word of God. It's the councils and creeds developed in the 3rd and 4th centuries that are not "biblical", and therefore cannot be used to define all Christians.

The councils and creeds may perhaps be used to define who is or is not an "Orthodox Christian" or a "Nicene Christian", but they cannot possibly be used to define who is or is not a Christian in the general sense. Therefore, you must understand that I do not believe that a Christian is necessarily by definition also a member of the historical Christian church.

Jared W said...

I'm a Mormon and I'm definitely a Christian. I believe in Jesus as the Son of God. I have faith that only Jesus Christ can save me from death and hell. I've made a covenant with Him in which I've promised to obey His commandments, always remember Him, and take His name upon me. I try to be like Christ. I am a Christian.

I am not a Protestant Christian. I am not an Orthodox Christian. I am not an Evangelical Christian. I am not a Nicene Christian.

I am a Mormon Christian. If you're not, I hope you'll switch.

NM said...

Yes, I'd have to agree with you Spencer: neither do I believe that a Christian is necessarily by definition also a member of the historical Christian church.

There are many God-knowers whose lives have not been transformed by His grace, and use their knowledge-of-God merely as an intellectual exercise. (This is only an opinion, of course). But the knowledge that people have about who God is, must be preserved...otherwise it's a no-starter. Plus, you'll get a guy, who 600 years later claims to have received revelations from the angel Gabriel claiming to be more important than Jesus, issuing Jihad to those who do not believe etc =)

NM said...

Spencer, I've just thought of another excellent question - how, in your mind, do you perceive FLDS?

What I mean is, do you (as a whole) think that they are Christians? Notice I didn't ask if you think they are Mormon. Again, I ask this question purely on a 'creed' basis. As a 'church' (not as a single-case-basis), do their doctrines qualify them to be considered Christians?

So the usual: if so, why? And: if not, why not?

Thanks again for humouring me =)

Clean Cut said...

Nat,
First off you need to understand that Mormons do not use "creeds", so we don't use any particular set of doctrines to define a "Christian". I know this is the opposite of other Christian churches who are based on the creeds or councils, or a set of beliefs/doctrines they espouse. The closest thing you'll find from the LDS is the Articles of Faith.

I think most Latter-day Saints would use the definition that Elder Porter used in the original quote: "Believers who worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and who witness that salvation is possible only by his atoning blood and grace," or "by the simple dictionary definition of a Christian as one who believes in or worships Jesus Christ". The Book of Mormon even includes this explanation that"those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ" (Alma 46:15).

In other words, for us, it's not so much your Christian pedigree that makes you a Christian, but if you've made Christ the Lord of your life. Therefore, it it is contrary to my way of thinking to judge who is or is not a Christian based on which church to go to. That might be helpful in defining whether they are "orthodox" or "traditional", but I don't believe any denomination has the authority to exclude believers who are different or who espouse additional doctrines not found in the Bible (but which do not contradict the Bible) from Christianity in general. Other denominations may exclude them from their own brand of Christianity, which they believe to be the one and only true Christianity--but of course I would disagree with that latter statement.

NM said...

I used the word 'creed' in the loosest of terms. I was hoping you would know what I meant when I used it; I certainly don't =)

I don't know that you answered my question though Spencer. I did make it quite clear that I wasn't talking about individuals, as I firmly believe (for example) that there are Catholics who have an intimate relationship with Jesus and would use their allegiance to Catholicism for tradition's sake...

Again, as a whole, do you think the FLDS church can be considered Christian?

NM said...

Hmm, I get the feeling we may be crossing wires here. Please know that my question to you is not intended to trip you up (or anything of a sort), I am asking from the stance that I simply don't know and would love to hear your opinion on these things =)

Clean Cut said...

If they are centered on Jesus Christ than I would say, yes, that are a Christian church. Again, when I say Christian church, I do not mean, as do Orthodox Christians, that "the church" is the body of all believers or all of Christianity. But I suppose this particular denomination may very well be called Christian if they believe in Christ.

I think I'm seeing what you might be getting at, with how we can have disagreements and even genuine objections with doctrines which other groups espouse. The question is, does that necessarily mean that they are not Christian in the general sense? I don't tend to believe so. But I also know many people who claim to be "Christian", but their lives do not resemble anything close to being a Christian or in actually following Christ.

Clean Cut said...

See LDS Newsroom Blog: "Are Mormons Christians?" by Nate Nielson