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