Is Mormonism Christian?



Is Mormonism Christian? This question is not a new one, but one that is being asked recently from a different direction and with a different angle. Previously, this query was raised principally by traditional Christians on a quest to determine whether or not Mormon doctrines and principles were indeed Christian. The answers found, often provided by outstanding evangelical scholars and apologists, demonstrated that the LDS Church does indeed believe that the Bible has been corrupted, that Joseph Smith added additional fabricated volumes to Scripture, that God was once a man, that Jesus was “sired” by God in union with Mary, that active membership in the LDS Church is essential for the fullness of salvation, and numerous other doctrinal positions wholly incompatible with biblical orthodox Christianity.

Today, however, the question originates with the Mormon church and is directed to at least two audiences. The first audience is their own membership, many of whom are unsettled with being thought of as a cult. Mormon Church leaders, therefore, are attempting to calm the waters by reassuring them that mentioning the name of Jesus often – having it appear in their literature and church logo – answers the question in the affirmative and is reason enough to believe that they are Christians.

The second audience is evangelical Christians themselves – their churches, ministerial alliances, and other organizations where Mormons hope to make public alliances, and other organizations where Mormons hope to make public relation inroads – as well as to create seedbeds for their proselytizing efforts.

Well, what about it, is Mormonism Christian? Not unless it has been altered radically and that, very recently. There was perhaps some hope that the LDS church might consider rethinking their Gnostic view of man, their henotheistic/polytheistic view of God, their sacerdotal-ecclesiastical system of salvation, and their peculiar fertility-cult Hinduistic, cyclical world view, in favor of a less outrageous model when the LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley equivocated his way through a Time Magazine interview. When asked the question whether God was once a man, he answered, “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it… I don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it.”

Were his hesitations signs of the beginning of a hoped for, incremental, baby-steps reform? Clearly not. Consider the issuing this spring of an LDS Church instructional book entitled: Teachings and Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young. The manual was published under the purview of the Mormon First Presidency, including President Hinckley. It was probably in process about the period of the Time Magazine interview. Chapter four, “Knowing and Honoring the Godhead,” contains the following lines: “Some would have us believe that God is present everywhere. It is not so. President Brigham Young taught ‘that God the Father was once a man on another planet who passed through the ordeals we are now passing through and knows all that we know regarding the toils, sufferings, life and death on this mortality.'”

There we have it, President Hinckley. You do believe and your Church still teaches that God was once a mortal human being, who sinned, erred, died and who knows what else, and yet is now your god. That is certainly not the Christian view of God. In fact, it is a long way from the Bible’s concept of the Eternal, uncreated One:

For I am God and there is no other;
I am God and there is none like Me. (Isaiah 46:9)

Before me there was no God formed.
Nor shall there be after Me. (Isaiah 43:10)

Considering just their view of God, the only way that Mormons could be labeled Christian is with the attachment of the adjective “heretical.” The Mormon god is no god at all, but rather, is a demiurge, a subordinate god who is not worthy of the name “God.”

There is therefore only one conclusion that we can arrive at regarding the “Mormons are Christians” campaign and that is that the LDS Church is simply orchestrating a public relations campaign. They have so revised the biblical concept of God that it is unrecognizable as such. Their only argument remaining is – “but we use the name of Jesus!” But so did the Marcionites, the Arians, the Sabellians, the Monophysites, the Apollinarians, and a whole host of other heretical movements throughout history. I cam claim to be Evander Holyfield, but that does not make me THE Evander Holyfield.

No, we just reject consistently and persistently, but with grace, patience, and love the Mormon claim to the precious appellation of “Christian” – follower of the crucified, risen Lord, “…the Word was with God (One eternal, uncreated being), and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Phil Roberts is director of the Interfaith Witness Evangelism Section of The North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.