My last post spotlighted the very articulate Latter-day Saint, Rachel Esplin. This post spotlights another video from that very same presentation--the one of Liz Cook (a Presbyterian) speaking about her faith as a Christian. The awkward opening minutes demonstrate the fact that the debate over whether Latter-day Saints are "Christians" is alive and well.
Moreover, "the debate of the definitions" (as I'll call it) continues even among media who specialize in issues of faith. Before introducing Liz Cook (the final one to speak), Sally Quinn (journalist for the Washington Post and founder of "On Faith") speaks of how important it was for her to get someone like Liz because she wanted to make sure that there was at least one Christian on the panel. Rachel Esplin pipes in saying "I'm a Christian". At that point, Ms. Quinn doesn't seem sure how to respond, and fumbles into mentioning how much time is left for the (apparently one and only) Christian on the panel.
I know that many Christians are adamant that Mormons are not "Christian", but what they should really say is that Mormons are heretical Christians. We don't fit the traditional, orthodox mold. And I can agree with not being a part of Traditional Christianity, since Mormonism teaches some aspect of apostasy or "falling away" from and then a restoration of some form of Christianity. But to say that Mormons are not Christian in any sense doesn't recognize our deeply held Christology.
Based on the definition used by Liz Cook (the identified Christian on the panel), I'm pleased to say that Latter-day Saints can certainly fit the label of "Christian". She said that being a Christian "literally means just becoming like Christ...I believe that Jesus Christ is God's Son that He sent to us to save us from our sin...Being a Christian just means being a follower of Christ and trying to develop a relationship with him and with God".
I like her definition. I think a vast majority of Mormons would fit that description. I'd be curious to know what definition Sally Quinn uses. What definition do the majority of Christians use?
On this point of how to define a Christian, it seems that modern Christians need to get their ducks in a row. On the one hand, some want to exclusively define a Christian as only those who conceive of God in Trinitarian terms, despite the fact that the doctrine of the Trinity wasn't hammered out until hundreds of years after the first Christians became Christians (also referred to in the New Testament as "saints"). On the other hand, many (like the Presbyterian in this clip) give a more appropriate definition of a Christian.
If being a Christian "literally means just becoming like Christ...[believing] that Jesus Christ is God's Son that He sent to us to save us from our sin...being a follower of Christ and trying to develop a relationship with him and with God", then I as a Latter-day Saint certainly can't be excluded from the term "Christian". I believe this definition would certainly fit the original "Saints", and I believe it fits well with Latter-day Saints too.
Liz Cook goes on to state: "My most important thing is my identity with Jesus Christ". Amen to that!
Day of Faith: Personal Quests for a Purpose - 6. Liz Cook from Harvard Hillel on Vimeo.