Is the Mormon Faith a True Representation of Christianity?

Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod

“The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, together with the vast majority of Christian denominations in the United States, does not regard the Mormon church as a Christian church. That is because the official writings of Mormonism deny fundamental teachings of orthodox Christianity. For example, the Nicene Creed confesses the clear biblical truth that Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, is “of one substance with the Father.” This central article of the Christian faith is expressly rejected by Mormon teaching — thus undermining the very heart of the scriptural Gospel itself. In a chapter titled “Jesus Christ, the Son of God: Are Mormons Christian?” the president of Brigham Young University (Rex Lee, What Do Mormons Believe? [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992] summarizes Mormon teaching by stating that the three persons of the Trinity are “not… one being” (21), but are “separate individuals.” In addition, the Father is regarded as having a body “of flesh and bone” (22). Such teaching is contrary to the Holy Scriptures, destructive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and indicative of the fact that Mormon teaching is not Christian.”

Presbyterian (USA)

Presbyterians in many parts of the United States live in close proximity with Mormon neighbors. Historically, these contacts with one another have often involved mutual difficulties. Today Presbyterians are challenged to apply the learnings we are gaining about interfaith relations to our relationships with Latter-day Saints.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), declares allegiance to Jesus. Latter-day Saints and Presbyterians share use of the Bible as scripture, and members of both churches use common theological terms. Nevertheless, Mormonism is a new and emerging religious tradition distinct from the historic apostolic tradition of the Christian Church, of which Presbyterians are a part.

Latter-day Saints understand themselves to be separate from the continuous witness to Jesus Christ, from the apostles to the present, affirmed by churches of the “catholic” tradition.

Latter-day Saints and the historic churches view the canon of scriptures and interpret shared scriptures in radically different ways. They use the same words with dissimilar meanings. When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks of the Trinity, Christ’s death and resurrection, and salvation, the theology and practices related to these set it apart from the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant churches.

It is the practice of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to receive on profession of faith those coming directly from a Mormon background and to administer baptism. Presbyterians do not invite officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to administer the Lord’s Supper.

Roman Catholicism

Question: Wheter the baptism conferred by the community «The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints», called «Mormons» in the vernacular, is valid.

Response: Negative.

The Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Response, decided in the Sessione Ordinaria of this Congregation, and ordered it published.



Michael Patton

Since Mormonism has redefined Christianity in such a way that the answer to the question “Who do men say that I am?” is not in accordance with the biblical and historical understanding (e.g. Jesus Christ is the eternal God-man) and since they reject the doctrine of the Trinity as one God who eternally exists in three persons, Mormons cannot be considered Christian without doing violence to the very essence of what it means to be Christian. The Mormon Church follows a different Christ, redefining the designation “Christian” such that the commonality which does exist between Mormonism and Historic Christianity is minimal in comparison to our differences.

Is the Mormon faith a true representation of Christianity? No.

Can individual Mormons be Christian? Only if their belief about who Christ is deviates from official Mormon teachings. In this case, they may be members of the Mormon Church yet hold a traditional view of Christ. Considering the paramount importance of the doctrine of the person of Christ in God’s self-revelation and considering all of the other false teachings of the Mormon Church it is incumbent upon the Mormon to leave the Church in search of a representation of a  biblical and historic Church. It is also incumbent upon orthodox Christians to stress the seriousness of this issue, yet with gentleness and respect.

See our new course on Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, taught by Robert Bowman Jr. here. (New episodes weekly).

393 Responses to “Is the Mormon Faith a True Representation of Christianity?”

  1. Steve in Toronto March 5, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I am enjoying you pod casts on Mormon’s and looking forward to how you will be handling the Jehovah’s witnesses. To me the two seem quite distinct. The Mormons seem quite clearly to be “off the map” and given what we know about the character of Joseph Smith there main challenge to Orthodox Christianity seems to be as a example of how venerable human being are to dramatic religious experience triggered (what seems to me to be) an obvious fraud. This is unsettling to me because the most effective argument for the resurrection of Christ has always seemed to me to be the rapid growth of the church in the face of first century persecution (I know the extent of persecution in the first century may be overstated). The success of the Mormons while not discrediting this argument undermines it to some degree (the rise of Islam offers similar challenges). The Jehovah witnesses however seem to me to be an entirely different kettle of fish. I have only a very superficial knowledge of the movement but they seem to be a modern manifestation of the ancient heresy of Aryanism. I have always wondered why the church felt it was necessary make the Nicene Creed rather than the Apostils creed the gold standard for Orthodoxy. While I must bow to the wisdom and authority of our church fathers the Nicene Creed seem entirely too confident in it assertions about the exact nature of the trinity and the murky politics that surround its adoption by the church are extremely unsettling. In short I have no problem pronouncing Mormons as a heretical cult but feel better calling Jehovah’s Witness “Heterodox” although I understand that technically speaking they are “classic” Heretics.

  2. Michael,

    While I agree with your summary completely. I do ask this one question. What percentage of Christians in classically defined Christian churches today have a properly defined understanding of the Trinity?

    Actually make it two questions. :)

    Can we differentiate between someone who has professed faith in Christ, but does not yet have a complete understanding of the Trinity, and someone who has been taught an incorrect version of the trinity?

    O.K. make it four questions.

    Jesus says in Matthew 8:24 that “unless you believe that I am (the one I claim to be), you will die in your sins.) Does that mean that a proper understanding of the Deity of Christ is necessary for salvation? What about those who have comprehend the salvific (is this a word?) message of Christ, but again don’t have a full understanding of who he is? (Like most 6 or 7 year olds who pray the sinner prayer.)

    Those are my thoughts. I do care passionately about the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, and am in the middle of long blog series on the topic.

  3. The thing to remember is that Joseph Smith says all other churches and doctrines are wrong…according to the Presence…then I would assume that would make Christianity itself wrong in that worldview.

    It clearly is interesting that the Smith family was not members of any church whatsoever until his mother, two brothers and sister were converted to Presbyterian during the religious revivals and they claimed no other belief prior to that. Joseph Smith says he was leaning toward Methodism until he revealed he had a vision. This is quite interesting in that no person in his family professed any belief whatsoever until the revivalism in that town. So Joseph went out to seek an answer. So it would beg the question, if he never had a knowledge in the first place of who Jesus was, naturally he would assume it was Jesus.

    Two things strike me here…of all the people I have talked to and read about who have had striking visions as portrayed by Joseph Smith, there were some things that did and did not happen.

    1:There was no call to conversion, regeneration or repentance upon seeing the presences.

    2:He was told he was the only one worthy to make a new religion based not on the vision itself of giving a message to him by revelation, but of a written record….which makes me feel like he was in the same mind as another person venerated in history….Mohammed. Even Mohammed wrote things found in the Bible until he had to make the scheme bigger and bigger to make himself seem more the only true messenger.

    Mormom is not Christianity any more than Islam is. Just because it borrows from the Bible does not make it Christian because so many cults do the same thing. The problem with what Joseph Smith did was that he did not include all of what the Bible says..and that is “if any one come preaching unto you anything different than what you have learned, count him accursed.”

    Can Joseph Smith have seen visions? I don’t know, I won’t say Joan of Arc or Bernadette have not either. But he had to keep changing his to justify his own power and ego. And that is why I would consider him to be more Islamic than Christian. He was nothing more than the 1830s version of Mohammad.

  4. “the murky politics that surround its adoption by the church are extremely unsettling.”

    One could make an argument that there is murky politics behind the adoption of the canon of scripture. After all, those outside the Roman/Byzantine empire had, and retain a different canon of old and/or new testaments. Despite that, you’re going to have to plunk your money down an historical church to trust in this matter.

  5. Truth Unites... and Divides March 6, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Paging Seth R., paging Seth R.! Mormonism is on code blue, where are you?


  6. I’ve been visiting with a few Latter Day Saints over the past couple months. I have found their testimonies to be interesting and thus far not in conflict with a traditional Christian point of view. Perhaps these young men do not know their doctrines as well as some others posting here. What has been the most appealing about my conversations with these young men is that they have refrained completely fron any negative verbage toward other points of view. It is quite refreshing.

  7. Michael, it might interest you that Mormons are in a big way “attacking” gullible people in Chennai, India. Sadly, many are unaware of this dangerous cult!

  8. Truth Unites... and Divides March 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    CMP: “Is the Mormon faith a true representation of Christianity? No.”

    Minnow: “What has been the most appealing about my conversations with these young men is that they have refrained completely fron any negative verbage toward other points of view. It is quite refreshing.”

    Agree with CMP.

  9. TU&D–Can’t say I’ve missed your POV or your tenor.
    Hate to break it to you boys but as insightful as CMP can be, he doesn’t get to decide.

  10. Lisa Robinson March 7, 2009 at 1:45 am

    Minnow, if Mormons do not believe in who Christ is or his salvific work, how then can they be considered Christian? And if they do, how then can they be Mormon? One may have an incredible testimony of how they came to their faith but does that mean it is THE saving faith?

  11. “Is the Mormon Faith a True Representation of Christianity?”

    It is not a representation of Christianity at all. It is a pagan cult.

    If Jesus Christ is not God, then it ain’t Christian. Period.

    And they believe that God used to be a man!? Huh? Give me a break.

    They are no more representative of Christianity than the cities of Chicago or New Orleans are representative of honest government.

  12. Lisa–Have the Latter Day Saints taught you about their faith? Or did you get what you know from some guy trying to sell a book? (And, I am NOT talking about the author of this blog!) Is Christianity really just a bunch of rules and doctrines and religious posturing…or is it modeling Christ. Maybe I don’t know where all the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted but if I believe Christ is the Son of God, He came to earth to show the way back to the Father because of the Father’s great love, He lived a perfact life but took my sins upon himself, was crucified, was buried, rose from the dead, and lives having defeated death; if I realize that I desparately need a savior because I can’t possibly get it right on my own, if I begin to understand that the only reason I am able to love is because He first loved me, is that not enough to claim salvation?! Maybe Joseph Smith got too full of himself. Maybe Brigham Young had a wild hair or two but have you listened to some of what comes out of the mouths of “our” greats?! We have got to stop looking for reasons to exclude and reject and discount one another and start seeking places of conection. If we don’t figure out how to truly love the lost, as in have compassion for, care about, consider them worthy, then all our (witnessing) words will be about as effective and important as a clanging cymbal is to a sonata.

  13. The Mormons worship another god.

    Their god is not the God of the Bible who pay the price for sin…all of it and now there is nothing else that has to be added.

    That is not their god.

    Jesus is not their God. They flat out believe and will admit that Jesus was NOT and IS NOT GOD.

    That, my friends, is not Christian.

    The Book of Mormon is antithetical to the Bible.

    It is a fairy tale book full of works righteousness.

    That is not Christian.

    Are there some in Mormonism that may be Christian…sure! God is not hampered in His desire to bring individulas to Himself.

    But it is awfully hard to understand how that could happen in a “church” that is not Christian and does NOT preach the gospel.

    Their gospel is another gospel and St. paul warned us to beware of angels from heaven (Moroni) delivering another gospel. He said let them be cursed! It is not from God, but from the devil.

    Did I miss anything? I’m sure I did, but that ought to be enough to make Joseph Smith (a convicted con man in N.Y. by the way) roll over in his firery grave)

    Thank you very much.

  14. Truth Unites... and Divides March 7, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Thank you very much.

    Steve Martin, meet Minnow. Minnow, Steve Martin.


  15. The pleasure is all mine! :D

  16. First of all….God makes it very clear in His word…there is nothing to be relied upon extra-Biblical. The Mormon tenets say…the believe in the Book of Mormon and the Bible….as long as it is interpreted correctly….now if the Bible in Joseph Smith’s estimation is wrong in interpretation…leading to many false churches…then it would question the validity of the Bible…and Joseph Smith copied word for word from the Bible…except those parts that would contradict him. The Mormoms hold that tenet today and it is posted on their own website.

    So when discussing with them their doctrines, ask them how they intend on becoming gods…they believe they will. It’s in their own D&C, BoM, Pearl of Great Price….it’s written and they ascribe to it.

    They teach also that modern prophets can overturn words of revelation given by former prophets…so guess what….Joseph Smith can even be discounted…and yet he is called their savior at BYU. This comes not from just some little missionary riding his bicycle…this comes from their own Leadership. Ok God is fickle to them, changing his mind to suit them. But the Bible says God is unchanging.

    So if you wonder why we are critical of Mormons being Christian…they are most definitely not because if they were they would not be in contradiction with the most basic beliefs.

    1: The nature of God
    2:The deity of Christ
    3:They say Jesus had plural wives
    4:They used witchcraft and recognized magick rituals still used today by Wiccans and other pagan religions. Even Alistair Crowley tried to interpret the Bible for his own gain.

    So they have plural wives (some who were teen girls)
    Another book written presented by an spiritual being
    The Bible is insufficient in itself
    Joseph is the only messenger

    {The above qualifies it to be Islamic in nature}

    They based on use of seer stone to translate
    He searched for treasure using divining rods
    He believed in Abraxas
    He consulted and endorsed fortune tellers in the church

    {The above qualifies it to be pagan and witchcraft in nature}

    They can replace prophet words by new prophet words
    they baptize themselves as proxy for dead ancestors
    they publicly denounce what they secretly practice
    they are secretive, deceptive and violent

    {the above qualifies it as an evolving cult}

    So there are the examples that make it not Christian at all.

  17. I am an infrequent reader of this blog and a life-long Mormon. I often enjoy the insight in Michael Patton’s posts.

    However, many of the comments on Mormonism reflect an incredibly ignorant view of Mormonism and LDS theology.

    While I agree that there are radical differences between LDS and protestant theology I would disagree that Mormons are not followers and worshipers of Jesus Christ according to the bible.

    Theology itself is extra-biblical explanation of diverse biblical texts and is open to all kinds of interpretations, including Mormon ones.

    Kara Kittle, and Steve Martin, it seems you both are set on a quite bigoted and ignorant depiction of the LDS church based on fear, misinformation and prejudice. This sort of viewpoint reinforces stereotypes found in the Mormon community (and secular community) of wild-eyed, closed-minded, ignorant “born-again” Christians, that are only interested in people agreeing with their narrow interpretation of the world, and condemning all other perspectives. I think that these stereotypes do a disservice to your community and would hope that you would educate yourselves.

    For a more open minded discussion of both LDS and Evangelical christianity I would recommend, a blog run by a devout evangelical christian.

  18. Jared C,

    There are pretty rough comments (but true, I believe) at a discussion going on here:

    I was hoping an intelligent LDS member would answer a couple of the charges.

    Are you game, or know someone who is?

    Thanks Jared!

    – Steve M.

  19. Steve,

    You are wrong on most everything…

    Mormons worship the God of the Bible.

    Mormons believe Jesus is God.

    The Book of Mormon is harmonious with the Bible.

    Since you don’t offer more than bald (false) assertions its hard to do anything but offer simple statements in opposition.

    I would agree, however, that Mormons interpret some things in the bible radically differently than protestants.

  20. Jared C,


    Mormons do not believe Jesus IS God. But rather a notch below God.

  21. Steve,

    You have no idea what Mormons believe. . .

  22. Jared C.,

    You are wrong, once again. I know many Mormons. So are fairly close friends and have been in the LDS for a long time.

    I regularly interact with Mormon missionaries, as they are quite active in my community.

    You show me where Mormon doctrine says that Jesus is equal to God and I’ll eat my computer.

  23. Jared C.,

    Chew on this:

    Here are only a few of the many false doctrines of the mormon religion.

    Joseph Smith said, “I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. It has been preached by the elders for fifteen years” (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.35).
    Brigham Young, the second president of the LDS Church, once stated,
    “How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds, and when men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are now passing through. That course has been from all eternity, and it is and will be to all eternity. You cannot comprehend this; but when you can, it will be to you a matter of great consolation” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:334, October 8, 1859).
    However, Isaiah 44:6,8 tells us that the God of the Bible knows of no other Gods. “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God…Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any.”
    According to Joseph Smith,
    “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret, if the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345. Also cited in Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p.129).
    The Doctrines of Covenants, considered to be scripture by Latter-day Saints, teaches, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (130:22).
    Jesus taught that God the Father was not a man at all. In fact, John 4:24 records Jesus saying, “God is spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
    Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught,
    “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.345; also cited in Gospel Principles, p.305).
    In contrast to this, Psalm 90:2 states, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you have formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.”
    In a pamphlet published by the LDS Church First Presidency, it says:
    “Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh, and which body died on the cross and was afterward taken up by the process of resurrection, and is now the immortalized tabernacle of the eternal spirit of our Lord and Savior” (”The Father and The Son; A Doctrinal Exposition by The First Presidency and The Twelve,” June 30, 1916. Reprinted in Articles of Faith, p. 421).
    Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie taught that God stepped down from His throne to “join with one who is finite and mortal in bringing forth, ‘after the manner of the flesh,’ the Mortal Messiah” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 1:315).

    The Bible describes the incarnation of Christ as a miracle known as the Virgin Birth. Mary, the mother of Jesus, became pregnant without the aid of man, mortal or otherwise (Luke 2:35).
    The Book of Mormon teaches in 2 Nephi 25:23, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

    President Spencer W. Kimball said,
    “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation” (12th Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.206; also cited in The Book of Mormon Student Manual, religion 121 and 122, 1996, p.36).
    Though Christians are saved “unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10), the good works of a Christians do not justify (or make right) the believer before God. The apostle Paul made this very clear when he wrote, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
    Writing for the Mormon magazine Ensign, BYU professor Clyde J. Williams said,
    “The perfect relationship between the atoning grace of Christ and the obedient efforts of mankind is powerfully stated by Nephi: ‘We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Nephi 25:23). Furthermore, we are invited to ‘come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.’ When we deny ourselves ‘of all ungodliness,’ then and only ‘then is his grace sufficient’ for us (Moroni 10:32)” (“Plain and Precious Truths Restored,” Ensign, October 2006, p.53).
    Apostle Bruce McConkie wrote, “And unless men have the agency to choose to do good and work righteousness—and, in fact, do so—they cannot be saved. There is no other way” (The Mortal Messiah 1:406).

    However, in his pastoral epistle to Titus, the apostle Paul wrote that a believer’s salvation was “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” He went on to write that this great kindness was “shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).
    According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism,
    “Logically and naturally, the ultimate desire of a loving Supreme Being is to help his children enjoy all that he enjoys. For Latter-day Saints, the term ‘godhood’ denotes the attainment of such a state—one of having all divine attributes and doing as God does and being as God is” (2:553).
    Brigham Young declared,
    “The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself; when we have been proved in our present capacity, and been faithful with all things He puts into our possession. We are created, we are born for the express purpose of growing up from the low estate of manhood, to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven. That is the truth about it, just as it is” (Brigham Young, August 8, 1852, Journal of Discourses 3:93).
    Historically, such a notion has been considered blasphemous by Christians. Never have Christians taught that mankind has the capacity to become ontologically like God. As God Himself said through the prophet Isaiah, “Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me” (Isaiah 43:10).

  24. That last comment was originally made by Ike on my site.

    I copied it from him verbatim.

  25. Truth Unites... and Divides March 8, 2009 at 2:58 am

    I watched this 7 minute presentation of Mormonism a while ago and it affirms CMP’s conclusion to “Is the Mormon faith a true representation of Christianity? No.”

  26. Steve, you may know Mormons, but you show all signs of being completely ignorant of Mormon understanding of God.

    “You show me where Mormon doctrine says that Jesus is equal to God and I’ll eat my computer.”

    Gospel of John, 1:1,

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the word was God.

    LDS Article of Faith 8 “We believe the bible to be the word of God . . .

    (Be sure to put some salt on the keyboard, it goes down better)

    If the bible is not enough for you, the Book of Mormon explicitly refers to Jesus as the Eternal God.

    But, if you think you have it all figured out. . . .

  27. Answer me these three questions, yes or no:

    1) Is Jesus equal to God the Father


  28. I’m an evangelical Christian, I have a BA in classics with a minor in Hebrew from Brigham Young University, and Seth R. pointed me to this web site a few months ago. I’ve lurked but haven’t commented—oh, and I corresponded with Dan Wallace in the spring of 2003 a bit while I was at BYU, we were using his NT Greek Grammar book for our class on Johannine Writings. Pleased to meet you.

    Jared C. pointed out this post to us at LDS & Evangelical Conversations, so here I am.

    Regarding the OP:

    Can individual Mormons be Christian? Only if their belief about who Christ is deviates from official Mormon teachings. In this case, they may be members of the Mormon Church yet hold a traditional view of Christ. Considering the paramount importance of the doctrine of the person of Christ in God’s self-revelation and considering all of the other false teachings of the Mormon Church it is incumbent upon the Mormon to leave the Church in search of a representation of a biblical and historic Church.

    I respectfully disagree, for several reasons. For starters I believe in a certain degree of individual soteriological inclusivism a la C.S. Lewis’s Calormene warrior in The Last Battle, meaning I think it’s possible for people to have a saving relationship with Christ in spite of having some things wrong about Him. In fact, I think there are plenty of evangelicals out there who don’t properly understand the Trinity, their understanding of it has more in common with modalism than correct Trinitarian thinking, yet I wouldn’t write them off as unsaved because of it.

    Two, I would much rather see the LDS church reform to orthodoxy from within than try to pick it apart one dissident at a time. Many things have changed about Mormonism in the last few decades. The more offensive parts of the temple ceremony were softened and/or removed in 1990 and 2005, more and more I meet Latter-day Saints who don’t believe God the Father used to be a man, and more often I meet Latter-day Saints who are focused on having a relationship with Christ and seem to understand salvation in terms of grace much moreso than works. Stephen Robinson and Robert Millet both represent a side of soteriological thinking within Mormonism that seeks to redefine LDS soteriology in terms of grace, and I’m just fine with that. In any case, the LDS church is never going to reform if the people who want to and are convicted to bring about that reform simply leave the church right away. Change takes time.

    As to what Mormonism is, I classify it as a Christian heresy. I think saying it isn’t Christianity (it is a part of Christianity, if a heretical part) or calling it a cult is extremely pejorative and builds barriers to effective dialogue with Latter-day Saints. If you really need a neat label for it, “new religious movement” seems to be coming in vogue.

    Some Mormons might not like being called a heresy or true Christianity, but the intelligent ones know that they teach the exact same thing about us. Apostasy, heresy, it’s the same concept. Each of us thinks the other is practicing a corrupt or incomplete form of Christianity.

    And sorry Steve, but Jared is correct; your understanding of Mormonism is extremely elementary, though I don’t doubt you’re well-meaning. Just realize that you don’t know everything and you have a long way to go. As I told you on LDS & Evangelical Conversations, that list of quotes you’re spreading was plagiarized by your commenter Ike from Mormonism Research Ministry.

  29. 2) Is Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit what is known as the Trinity?

    3) Is there anything at all that Christians need to be doing to work toward perfection that they may become Gods?

  30. Thank you Jared C for your grace.

  31. It appears that Jared is a heretical Mormon. Excellent.

  32. Truth Unites... and Divides March 8, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Thank you CMP, Steve Martin, Kara Kittle, and Jason C. for sharing the Truth in love and with a beautiful tenor.

    And even if some people with their misunderstanding and subjective perceptions of what genuine grace is prefer a lie told with what they think is “grace”, I think people are far better served and far better loved with a truth that these judgmental people judge as “harsh”.

    An unwelcome truth is better than a loving lie.

    Narrow gate, wide gate. The wide gate is inclusive and is a loving lie.

  33. Truth Unites... and Divides March 8, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Bridget Jack Meyers: “I would much rather see the LDS church reform to orthodoxy from within than try to pick it apart one dissident at a time.”

    Pragmatically, I don’t.

    #1. If there is to be “reform to orthodoxy”, and that’s a rather large and extremely dubious IF, then it will happen and be accelerated because they happen to be losing one dissident at a time..

    #2. Let’s be realistic. The LDS church is *not* going to “reform to orthodoxy”. The Holy Spirit will save one Mormon dissident at a time.

    Another spirit was in charge at the inception of the LDS cult and is in charge today. Best to get a grip on that fact.

  34. Jason C.

    I may be a heretical Mormon, but I am still a Mormon and luckily most Mormons would never condemn me to hell. I am still far from accepting anything like Protestantism. I think that its really impossible to swallow, it often has a distorted view of God. Part of the reason I am completely turned off to your religion is the anti-intellectual approach that is often taken. While I disagree with a lot of CMP’s conclusions, I appreciate his reasoned approach.

    Steve~ 1- Yes, Jesus is equal to God the Father.

    2) Is Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit what is known as the Trinity?

    YES (to those who believe in the extra-biblical doctrine of the trinity)However, Mormons believe that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God,

    3) Is there anything at all that Christians need to be doing to work toward perfection that they may become Gods?

    Yes. Repent and be baptized, love God and others.

    Truth Unites… and Divides~

    I don’t think what has been said about Mormons is particularly harsh, just distorted and incorrect.

    The truth may divide, but you don’t seem to understand the truth about Mormonism, you seem to accept a caricature of the truth.

    The truth may unite and divide, but distortions pretty much only divide. If all you care to do is alienate people then keep on shouting this sort of “truth”.

  35. Truth Unites... and Divides March 8, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Jared C.: “The truth may unite and divide, but distortions pretty much only divide.”

    Correct. The distortion of Mormonism divides.

  36. Truth Unites... and Divides March 8, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Jared C: “Part of the reason I am completely turned off to your religion is the anti-intellectual approach that is often taken.”

    Thank you Jared very much. Thank you for saying “your religion”. I really appreciate the clarity because it puts in stark terms that Mormonism and Christianity are two DIFFERENT religions.

    Thank you.

  37. #36 Truth Unites:

    #1. If there is to be “reform to orthodoxy”, and that’s a rather large and extremely dubious IF, then it will happen and be accelerated because they happen to be losing one dissident at a time.

    I disagree. I think it can happen because the Holy Spirit moves their leaders to make the change.

    #2. Let’s be realistic. The LDS church is *not* going to “reform to orthodoxy”. The Holy Spirit will save one Mormon dissident at a time.

    Merely your assertion, and considering that you listed a movie clip from The God Makers as a reputable source on LDS beliefs in #28(!), I can already tell your opinion of Mormonism isn’t rooted in realism. The National Conference of Christians and Jews panned the film’s portrayal of Mormonism for good reason.

  38. I think Mormonism and Protestantism are two different Christian religions.

  39. Divides. . .

    I suppose twisting words is easier and more entertaining than understanding. . .

    you go with that.

  40. Bridget Jack Meyers–I appreciate your comments. Thank you for joining the conversation.
    TU&D–I thank God you are not Him. To my ability to discern you neither represent truth not the heart of the One who is the Truth. Some of what you say may be accurate but it too often sounds like clanging cymbals and in general I am unable to hear due to the din.

  41. Truth Unites... and Divides March 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    TU&D–I thank God you are not Him. To my ability to discern you neither represent truth not the heart of the One who is the Truth.

    Such statements accurately represent the quality of love in your heart, Minnow.

  42. I stumbled across this blog last week, intending to return when I had a few minutes to draft a comment. Now, Sunday evening I find nearly 50 comments—only a couple of which a practicing Mormon could agree with. Mr. Patton’s claim that Mormons reject co-substantiality of the Father and the Son—and this (if true) somehow undermines the heart of “the scriptural gospel,” that Mormons misuse the theological lexicon, Mr. Martin’s woefully inadequate summary of LDS beliefs, and Ms. Kittle’s claim that God has made it clear that nothing outside the Bible can be accepted all seem to me to be merely apologetics by decree or fiat—lacking scriptural substance for support.

    Minnow, I think you can count on those missionaries having a pretty solid comprehension of what Mormonism teaches.

    Lisa, Mormons do believe in Christ’s salvific work and that He indeed is God. Claims to the contrary are false.


  43. Lot’s of accuastions flying around.

    Maybe I do not have the best grasp of Mormon theology…but then neither do these Mormon men (mostly) that I speak to on the street.

    Every one of them has told me that Jeus is not God Himself.

    They all said said Jesus’ work on the cross is not enough..we must also DO X
    X, Y, and Z.

    Not a one of said they believed in original sin.

    That kind of thinking is just not Christian. I’m not saying that they are not Christians. But those doctrines do go against Christian orthodoxy.

  44. Steve,

    Mormonism is not “orthodox” christianity. Mormons consider orthodox christianity mistaken and distorted in many ways, just as the “orthodox” consider Mormonism distorted and mistaken.

    That said, if you have any intellectual honesty you will understand Mormonism prior to ‘bashing’ it.

    Why try to understand?

    Because as co-followers of Jesus, we are all commanded to become one, to unite despite our differences. (I discuss this here

    People are prone to mistakes and distortions (the comments on this blog are a good example) but ignorant condemnation doesn’t seem to further the Christian cause of unity.

    You might actually learn something about the Bible, God and spirituality by investigating how He is working with people who are outside your favorite group.

  45. Jesus prayed to his Father that his followers would be one. The question of course is “who are his followers?”

    We are not commanded be unite despite our differences. “Test everything, hold fast to that which is good,” is a command to scrutinise every claim made, particularly from those who claim to set aside Christian orthodoxy.

    Using the same words does not make for unity.

    Arab Christians and Arab Muslims both use the word Allah for God, but they mean completely different things when they say it.

    If, when you say “God” you mean the uncreated creator, the uncaused first cause, who in the Christian religion is revealed as the eternal Father of the eternal Son, then we might be on the same page.

    If by the word “Jesus” you mean the mortal incarnation of the eternal Son, also known as the Word of God, born of a virgin by an act of creative fiat, crucified under Pontius Pilate, offered as a sacrifice for the sins of men, and resurrected from the dead, then we might be talking about the same individual.

    Tell us what you understand Mormons to mean by those words.

  46. Jared C.,

    I am learning quite a bit.

    (I’ll check out your link tomorrow – thanks)

    But I have to say that what I am learning is antithetical to what I have learned from studying the Bible.

    I am open to hearing more, and I will check out that page.

    Thanks, Jared C..

  47. Truth Unites... and Divides March 8, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Jared C: “Mormons consider orthodox christianity mistaken and distorted in many ways, just as the “orthodox” consider Mormonism distorted and mistaken.”

    The Truth about Mormonism: “Mormonism got started primarily by criticizing and attacking Christendom, while seeking to gain converts from out of Christendom. It was Joseph Smith who instigated such an approach by declaring that the so-called “Christianity” of his day (early 1830s) was COMPLETELY apostate—according to Joseph Smith, they had:

    • a wrong concept of God,
    • a mangled/perverted Bible,
    • a skewed understanding of Jesus,
    • a faulty idea of salvation, and
    • all their ministers were corrupt.

    This is why Mormonism began as the “restored” Christianity—i.e., the true Christianity that had been lost. Early Mormons, including its leaders, sought very hard to distance Mormonism from Christendom/Christianity by attacking it mercilessly.

    The truth is that both the Roman Catholics AND Protestants—since 1830 and the founding of the LDS Church—have been in a DEFENSE mode against relentless attacks by Mormons. I just want to keep things straight here. One of the most offensive, disingenuous, and IMHO, deceptive things I hear Mormons saying ad nauseum—i.e., they are being attacked while they criticize no one else and just preach Jesus. That is simply untrue.

    … Mormon attacks against Christendom’s churches are built into the whole foundation/sub-structure of the LDS Church (i.e. Mormonism).

    The very basis of Mormonism is the apostasy of all other churches in Christendom.”

  48. TU&D #44–My statement in its entirety #43 absolutely represents the quality of love in my heart. As gently as my humanity would allow I tried to let you know that the tone of your discourse got in the way of me being able to hear anything you had to say.
    Steve Martin #46–The reason I began to comment on this topic is because the experience/conversation I was having with the LDS who came to visit me led me to believe they did believe Jesus is part of the God head and also believe His saving work on the cross is “enough”. So perhaps, just like protestant and Roman Catholic Christians, the LDS do not all agree about what they believe.


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