Are Mormons Christians?

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June 15, 2009
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I figured it was about time I add my USD $0.02/CAN $0.03 to this debate.

To get to the bottom of the matter I conducted a highly scientific poll in which I texted 25 random Mormon friends of mine asking them “Are you Christian?” Of those, 17 responded (the other 8 were probably busy watching the Red Sox wail on the Yankees). Here’s what they replied:

  • Yes
  • Yes i am christian.
  • Yes sir
  • I don’t know what answer you want… Yes, i am…I believe in christ and try my best to follow him
  • Yes!
  • yep
  • Yes, clearly
  • Yes
  • heretofore yes
  • Ain’t no thang. Good luck to your hide. I’ll let you know of our next potential gatherin’ (note: I suspect that this one might not be in response to my question…)
  • Yes!
  • just simple yes or not? yes. if you want more detailed let me know.
  • You bet.
  • Yes. 🙂 (an emoticon!)
  • I am and know that he leads this church.
  • Of course
  • Yes

And the last friend of mine responded by actually calling me up and flabbergastedly (probably not a word) asking me why I’d ever even ask him that — of course he’s Christian! So, there you have it, at 17 votes to none the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Christian religion. That is, according to Mormons anyway. They say this because Christ is the central figure of Mormon theology.  “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:26). In the words of Joseph Smith, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” Susan Easton Black, a church scholar (and coincidentally my neighbor) calculated that Christ or His ministry is mentioned on the average every 1.7 verses in the Book of Mormon. Mormon teaching is preeminently Christ-centered.

It seems the major part of the dear Mother Earth’s population agree that we are Christians. To a Muslim, Mormons are Christians; to a Buddhist, Mormons are Christian. I’m guessing that even a Pastafarian would probably call Mormons Christians. The problem is that some members of other religions chilling out under the holy umbrella of Christianity don’t like sharing the dry space. They claim that since some of our beliefs differ from that of “traditional” Christians, we shouldn’t be allowed use of the term. And they have a point — truly we are different in many ways (and proudly so, I say).  Our view of Christ differs from a Lutheran’s point of view of Christ just as a Baptist’s view of Him differs from a Catholic’s, but it should not be these doctrinal differences that define Christianity (read more about our view of Christ here).

a very Christian treeThe question at heart here is this: who has the right to determine the definition of the word “Christian”? Let’s look at the term’s history. According to Acts 11:26, the disciples of Christ were first called “Christians” at Antioch. The term meant someone who was a follower of the man Jesus. And the term went from there, eventually being applied to the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the many denominations that later started springing up. But today, no one really owns the legal rights to such terms. Certainly Evangelical Christians (who seem to take most issue with this claim) don’t own these rights. The term should be defined in the same way as any other term: by how it has been used by the common person over the course of many years. If any one group did own the rights, it would be the Catholics—the Christians who have been around the longest.

But I say we leave the definition up to the most reliable definitional source we humans have: www.merriam-webster.com which provides the following:

Main Entry: Chris·tian

Function: noun

Etymology: Latin christianus, adjective & noun, from Greek christianos, from Christos

1: one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ

2: the hero in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

So as long as you’re asking me if I’m a Christian in the first definition’s sense, then yes, I’m unquestionably a Christian.  And that rounds out the 4 ways in which Mormons are Christians:  1) By self definition, 2) By majority vote of the earth’s population, 3) By original definition of the word “Christian”, and 4) By current dictionary definition of the same.

I know Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, that He lived and performed miracles and died for us. I know He rose again on that blessed third day. I know He loves me and that through His atoning sacrifice I can overcome sin and be saved.  I’m grateful to Christian friends and neighbors of the Mormon and non-Mormon type who spread the good news of His gospel.

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80 Responses to “Are Mormons Christians?”

  1. Thaddeus

    I’d just like to add that Mormons want to be called Christians because it’s the proper classification for us. Our discipleship to Jesus Christ is central to our lives, and it is what distinguishes us from Islam, Hinduism, and Taoism, etc.

    We don’t have any motive to join what some call the “common communion” or “intercommunion” where the Lord’s supper or a baptism in one Christian church is valid across the board of Christianity. I believe this is what some evangelical Christians think we’re trying to do, and I hope we’re clear on that point.

  2. Are you Christian?

    “Are Mormons Christian?”

    Some are and some aren’t. Christian is as Christian does. My present ward is not Christian. Thank goodness that my other wards have been and I’ve known many, many Christian Mormons over the years. If all I had to judge the church by was this ward, I would have to conclude that Mormons are not Christian.

    An Evangelical friend asked me once if Mormons were Christian, as a segue into Bible bashing. I told him “Christian is as Christian does. You know me, am I a Christian?” He had to admit that I was. He also admitted that he knew many people who professed to be Christian who were not Christlike.

    I’ll leave the judgement up to Christ.

  3. Great post. I also want to recommend one of my all time favorites at BCC entitled: “Are Mormons Christians? Are Post Toasties corn flakes?” http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/01/12/are-mormons-christians-are-post-toasties-corn-flakes/

    The best response, in my opinion, was the Mormon who simply said “I hope Jesus thinks I am”

  4. Eddel

    Let us wait and see at the last judgement.

  5. Darrell

    I’m a Pastafarian, and I take offense to this post!

    Just kidding.

    But my CAN$.03 to this discussion is: Would Christ himself consider us Christians? I hope that we as a church through our faith and works do enough to follow his teachings to be considered by Christ to be his followers.

  6. For me, most are Christians then the rest i don’t know…Christian

  7. grace

    I’m a CHRISTIAN.
    and most christians don’t take Mormonism as Christianity because they doubt the basic existance of the bible- the book that makes christianity exist.

    1.) christians believe the three trinity are one.
    + morons don’t believe they are.
    2.) christians say Jesus Christ was the son of god.
    + morons just consider him to be a teacher/prophet. but not the son of god.
    3.) christians believe faith alone lets a person have access to heaven after death.
    + mormons say ” you have to have faith AND do work for the LDS CHURCH, and LDS church ONLY.

    and the BIBLE says NOTHING about another man with a different story. How can Mormonism be consider to be Christianity if they DOUBT the bible?

    I feel like most of the new christian religion out there are made by our own understandings. Also, how can a Mormon know the WHOLE truth of god if they think that the bible ( god’s words) are half false? are they saying that their own God is lying? that he makes mistakes?

    those are my reasons why mormons aren’t consider to be one.

    why pray to a god who ‘changes’ his mind and makes up a new truth that is a total contridiction to his first laws/ words?

  8. Grace, I’m curious where you get your information about what Mormons believe. You’re dead wrong on all three accounts. No wonder you don’t think we’re “Christians”.

  9. Steven

    grace,

    I would encourage you to more fully research the LDS church’s position on such important topics as these. While my aim is not to convert you to the LDS Church, I do want to help you understand the truth about what the LDS Church believes. I would hope that people of all religions are able, and willing, to give a truly honest effort at understanding the tenants of other faiths. There is nothing to be gained through believing, and perpetuating, falsehoods about other faiths.

    1) Christians believe the three trinity are one.

    Mormons, being Christians, also believe this. The LDS church holds that the trinity, God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, are one in mind, purpose, will and intention. While the church holds that these three are individual in body and person, in all respects they are “one”.

    This belief is consistent with Bible teachings (if not made entirely evident by them):

    In Matt 3:17 we see all three members of the trinity represented as individuals as Jesus Christ was baptized.

    In John 10:30, Christ teaches that he and the Father are one.

    Jesus Christ proclaims that His Father is greater than He in John 14:28.

    In John, Jesus Christ tell his apostles “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father.”

    We are taught that Christ sits on the right hand of God, exalted, in Acts 2:33.

    More imagery is used in Acts 7:55 when the martyr Stephen “saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”

    I believe you’ll find this view not entirely foreign to mainstream Christianity. Indeed, I think if you actually read the Nicene Creed (where Catholicism draws its doctrine on this point), one could hold that the LDS Church’s interpretation fits pretty well in the definition of the Trinity laid out therein.

    2) Christians say Jesus Christ was the son of God.

    Mormons emphatically agree. The very foundation of the LDS Church’s doctrine is centered on this belief: That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, descended from heaven to live among us. He lived a perfect life, free from sin, as only He could. He died for our sins, and on the third day was resurrected.

    The LDS Church’s first article of faith is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    Some LDS Scripture references (please, visit LDS.org or find a copy of the LDS Scriptures if you’d like to see these scriptures in context):

    1 Nephi 11:18 (in the Book of Mormon): In a vision, Nephi sees a women, and is informed by an angel that “the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God”.

    Two verses later he sees the Savior: “And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!”

    In Mosiah 15:1-9 (in the Book of Mormon) Mosiah is prophesying of the coming of Jesus Christ: “he shall be called the Son of God”, “And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.” If you are going to look up any LDS scriptures, make this reference be the one you look up. I can’t think of a more Christian teaching that what is found here.

    I think this doctrine is as “Christian” as you can get.

    3) Christians believe faith alone lets a person have access to heaven after death.

    Again I think, fundamentally, Mormons believe the same thing. Reference the article on this site called “Works and Grace” by Megan (http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com/2008/02/works-and-grace/).

    Essentially, Mormons believe that “Faith without works, is dead” (James 2:20), and “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt 7:20). If a person’s faith is truly genuine, that faith can be seen by their works. With the same reasoning, a person that doesn’t do good works does not have faith. Saving faith simply cannot exist without good works, and truly good works cannot exist without saving faith (they may be good works, but they do nothing by way of salvation). Further, no amount of faith, and therefore works, on our part can save us. That is why Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins.

  10. Kimo

    Most Christians do not accept Mormons as Christians because they follow another doctrine (Book of Mormon, D&C, Pearl) and follow Joseph Smith. In the end, a Christian is what God calls a Christian. Of course there are many people who call themselves Christians from many denominations and some are and many are not. A Christian is someone whom God judges as having a true faith in Jesus Christ and because of their faith they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit testifies to a man’s soul and leads him and gives him the power and desire to obey Gods’s ways with the results being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, etc.

    I’ve known many wonderful Mormons who have a lot of love & I can’t sit in God’s judgement seat to say what is the truth of their heart. But if I were a Mormon, I wouldn’t want to risk the eternal salvation of potentially generations of my family and I’d investigate fully the teachings of Mormon doctrine and history and compare it to a full understanding of the Bible. My experience with Mormons is that they seem not to really fully understand the Bible or rely on it for their understanding. It seems to be written off when they say that it is only as good as the interpretation. That is a seemingly pat answer that is given to write-off anything that may contradict the other books.

    After doing some research on the LDS books an doctrine, I’m convinced that either Joseph Smith was misled or he was a clever man who fabricated them, or he was sincere and leaning on his own understanding and not God’s. I say this for many reasons, but some of the biggest ones are:
    – LDS books copy parts of the King James Bible with the old english text copied word for word including some of the minor grammatical errors that were included in the King James Translation. If Joseph Smith really had some magical way of deciphering original scripture, don’t you think he would be diligent and thorough and translate it correctly instead of copying large portions of the King James Bible. I challenge you to investigate this for yourselves and don’t settle for a simple & easy way of just explaining it away. This alone makes it obvious to me that his texts can not be relied on.
    – LDS doctrine includes many contradictions to the bible:
    – Mormon belief that a Mormon male will run his own planet (The bible says that we will be in heaven worshiping God). To me this ruling of one’s own planet seems like an appeal to the pride of man which is a common downfall of man.
    – Mormon belief that Jesus and Satan are brothers (The bible states that Satan was once the greatest of all Angels and he rebelled against God due to his pride and he took many other Angels with him).
    – Mormon belief that God has a body of flesh (The Bible says God is spirit)
    – There have been 4,000 changes to the book of Mormon since 1830 with many being doctrinal and not punctuation.
    – Many other contradictions that you are probably familiar with and have probably been taught an answer for.
    – DNA evidence of American Indians link them to Asian ancestory and not Jewish (Lamanite) ancestory.

    In the Bible, God has been angry many times over any false prophets or false teachings. I have no idea whether God accepts Mormon’s as Christians because in my view they have a combination of false teachings in addition to the Holy Bible coupled with some really fantastic people that I continue to be impressed with and love. Only God truly knows each of their hearts.

    My challenge to the Mormon’s who read this is to read and study just the Bible on your own. Start with the books of “John” or “Galations” or “Corinthians” or the other books of the New Testament. God says that scripture is “alive” and he will lead you to understanding through the Holy Spirit. I think if you get a great Bible (my favorite is the NIV Life Application Bible) and start to study it every day and pray, that you will be amazed where God leads you.

    God Bless you all!

  11. Curtis "Curtis" Wiederhold

    Kimo,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I fully agree with you when you say that God will be our ultimate judge. Truly “The Lord is a God of judgment” (Isaiah 30:18). And as is stated repeatedly in the Bible: “I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12, Psalms 89:14, Isaiah 61:8)

    However, I think your assessment of Mormons might not be fully accurate. The Mormons I know are very aware of what the Bible says and have compared it tirelessly with Mormon doctrine. As for myself, I treasure the precious words of the Savior in the New Testament, a book I have read multiple times. Currently I’m studying the fascinating account of the Lord’s covenant people found in the Old Testament. Right now I’m in Judges and am using both the KJV and NIV Bibles to try and better understand the ambiguous Hebrew constructions.

    I am already aware of all the points you brought up that trouble you about Mormonism (as are many other Mormons). Intellectually, I am quite satisfied with answers I have found to these questions. But, more importantly, I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is a volume of scripture because I have asked God in prayer and He has answered me. I cannot and will not deny personal experiences I have had with the Divine. I know He loves His children, He answers their prayers.

    Kimo, I feel like in that sense I’ve already taken your challenge. I now have a challenge for you. Research pro-LDS websites to get the other side of the story on these issues, find answers, and then ask God if these things are true or not. I know He will answer.

    “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.”
    – 1 John 5:14

    Thanks for taking the time to read my article and post your thoughts. It’s a beautiful fall day outside. I hope you enjoy it!

  12. Kimo

    Hi Curtis.

    That is awesome that you have read the NT several times. Have you tried an audiobook version as well? Try it when you get the chance . . . I was amazed at all the new things I picked up that way! The Old Testament is fascinating, inspiring and bewildering all at the same time! I love it, especially the Proverbs. The foreshadowing of Jesus throughout is just amazing as well.

    I totally understand how you can not deny personal experiences you have had with God. They are powerful, wonderful, reassuring, and vitally important to our growth in our relationship with God. Hearing you and others talk this way is what makes me think that Mormons may have enough of the truth to have a true relationship with God. I know that if that is what is in your heart that you will continue to investigate to make sure you have the whole truth.

    When it comes to testing both Prophets and testing the words of the Prophets, God lays out how to do this and it does not rely soley on prayer. The two tests he lays out are:
    1 – Test any new words against the Bible. The Bible should be used as the authoritative Word and other writings compared to it (not the other way around). The Bereans tested the teachings of Paul by comparing it to the Old Testament. – Acts 17:11. There are many many contradictions between what is in the Bible and LDS doctrine as I’m sure you know. As I understand it, the book of Mormon is actually supposed to be 100% accurate and complete, yet it mostly agrees with the Bible and doesn’t have much of the more prominent LDS doctrine in it at all. Those are found in the other writings.
    2 – Test the Prophets’ words and prophesies and 100% of what they say must come true or they are a false prophet -Deuteronomy 18:20-22

    When we compare the prophecies of Joseph Smith with what really happened, we find that most did not come true. For example, in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants he said the Lord told him that before the current generation had all passed away, an LDS temple would be built in the western boundaries of Missouri. Smith gave that prophecy in 1832, so 164 years has gone by and there is still no LDS temple in the western boundaries of Missouri. And there is certainly not anyone still alive from 1832. In another prophecy Smith said the Lord had told him that Christ would return in 56 years (History of the Church, Vol. 2, pg. 182). That was in 1835, so it would make the date of the Lord’s return in 1891. That didn’t happen. Smith said the moon is inhabited with people six feet tall, dressed like Quakers and living to be about 1,000 years of age (Young Women’s Journal, published by the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations of Zio, 1892, vol. 3, pp. 263-267). In Journals of Discourses, Vol. 13, page 271, we find President Brigham Young saying that not only is the moon inhabited, but so is the sun.

    When Joseph Smith’s prophesies are tested, they do not all come true. Remember, according to the test, it would only take one failed prophesy to make a false prophet. In just one group of 64 prophecies he made, 58 never came true and most were dated.

    I’ve read pro-LDS websites and have good friends who are LDS and have read the book of Mormon because I want to be informed and empathetic. I love learning about other religions, but I don’t pray about any writings that I know do not agree with holy scripture found in the Bible. No one should just go by their feelings or wait for a feeling of peace because we are both intellectual, emotional and spiritual creatures. We can be fooled & deceived by our emotions and God wants us to test everything against what he has said and not against what we feel. There are many others who claim additional inspired writings including Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science), Jehovahs Whitness, Gnostics, etc. I would never ask you to pray about their writings to see if you get a feeling of peace. Instead, I would suggest that you test their writings against the Bible and test their prophets. This would show you that what they say is from man and not from God.

    I wish you love & happiness!

    Kimo

  13. Dave

    Kimo,

    Sorry to pop in to the conversation midway like this. Thanks for coming onto the site. And thanks, particularly, for being so polite and civil. It goes a long way.

    “There are many many contradictions between what is in the Bible and LDS doctrine as I’m sure you know.”

    Of course we disagree with that statement, as I’m sure you know. We claim that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are in accordance. Though we definitely assert that many of our doctrines don’t come from the Bible, we certainly don’t think they contradict. And we are well aware of extensive lists that people have of contradictions between the two, but people have those extensive lists between all major believers in the Bible. The Catholics have their lists of contradictions between the Bible and Protestant belief, and vice versa. Protestants between other protestants, Copts and Armenians, and so on. Those who don’t believe in the Bible at all are quick to point out contradictions between the Bible and itself.

    My point is, in every case (and ours is no exception), the believers explain away the contradictions with alternate interpretations of what the prophets who wrote the Bible are saying. If ever I point out to my Evangelical Christian friends Bible verses that contradict their beliefs, I find their response is not to discard their religion and hop on board. They go out and search and eventually find an explanation, and it usually involves an alternate interpretation of the text: “what he’s really saying is…” I think you’ll find that most people have the same response. And this is why we assert that, while working through apparent contradictions is helpful, it’s usually the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts that we base our faith on.

    Incidentally, I’m not sure what contradictions you’re thinking that there are, but if you’re curious about the Mormon response to any particular “contradiction” between the Bible and our theology, most of them are easily found by a search on the web. http://www.fairlds.org, in particular, is pretty reliable.

  14. Toni

    U. Curtis, thanks for your testimony in response to Kimo. It was beautiful and I think set the right tone for the discussion.

  15. Mindi

    I used to be Mormon. Now, I am a born again Christian. Having said that, mormons are not Christian. In your 8th article of faith you say that you beieve the Bible is correct as so long as it is translated correctly. TRUE Christians believe that the Bible IS TRANSLATED CORRECTLY. The Bible is God’s word. Therefore, if you follow God, you should follow his word. The Bible. God is Jesus, and vice versa. Therefore, if you are “christian” you MUST believe the Bible is correct. If you do not, then you are NOT Christian.

  16. Mindi

    Also, we are not, as humans, meant to try and dechiper what the Bible tells us. It is God-breathed. Therefore it means what it says, not what we want it to or think it should. We are not to try and “interpret” what the writer was saying. It just is, what it is.

  17. Ben

    Mindi,

    I am sorry to hear that you have such strong feelings toward Mormons and our claim to being Christian. As Curtis pointed out in his post, it seems that many Christian churches don’t want to share their shade of the umbrella and you also share this viewpoint. I view a Christian as someone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, follows his teachings, and does the works that he would do–loving God and all mankind. Furthermore, Christ’s church is built first, upon Jesus Christ, he being the chief cornerstone, then prophets and apostles. This is according to what Paul teaches in Ephesians 2:19-22 and this is what Mormons accept as doctrine. I understand your zeal for the Bible and I am grateful for your example, but I believe that God still speaks through prophets and that there is revelation that comes to us through these men that guides his church and us today, just as revelation to Peter and Paul guided the early church and saints. The Bible IS an integral part, but not sole lighthouse of God’s word. Revelation through prophets has been God’s primary way of guiding of his church from the days of Adam and will continue as such. Thanks Mindi.

  18. christ follower

    Hi Dave/Curtis,

    I have yet to see your response to Kimo’s point on Joseph Smith’s false prophecies… how do these fit in to your beliefs? (how could they?) Just curious to see what your thoughts are on this one… every Mormon I come across cannot seem to defend this one.

    I have one other point to make that puzzles me… To give you some background, I basically grew up SURROUNDED by Mormons, and to tell you a vast difference between Mormons and so-called “Christians”, not once in my 27 years have any of these Mormons approached me about their religion. Christians (at least I do) have a deep need to proclaim the word of God so that all of mankind may be saved and not be condemned to hell. I have yet to experience this type of passionate need from any Mormon I come accross. About 2 years ago I worked with a girl who was Mormon, I would have never guessed it though. We were close enough for me to ask her why she never would lead on that she was Mormon and she answered me: “People don’t understand my religion, so I just don’t talk about it”… this was the general consensus of most of my Mormon friends growing up. And I don’t want to hear you respond with “Oh those were just a small majority”, because approximately 20% of my friends growing up were Mormon! That is quite a few in my opinion! Don’t get me wrong, I have a great love and compassion for Mormon people, but the general disposition of those I have come accross in my life (be it friends, co-workers, teachers, classmates, etc) don’t seem to be “on fire” for Jesus. It is not the same as when I come across a Christian who is so compelled to openly speak about God and salvation. Even the missionaries on the bicycles who come through my neighborhood… they seem almost robotic and almost doubtful. It’s like they are not truly revealing to their deepest level the way someone who preaches the Gospel of Jesus does…Let me elaborate… if I were to bring up any of Joseph Smtih’s FACTUAL documented teachings/prophecies (how he not only borrowed chunks of the Bible for the BOM, but also out of 2 other writings in the 1820s, “A View of the Hebrews” and “Wonders of Nature”) and the inconsistencies compared to the Bible, it’s like a deer in the headlights and they would completely ignore my point! Then they normally just give up! Or if I bring up one of the teachings in Mormonism that teaches that God was once a man and acheived “Godhood” through a blameless life and seeking of truth, etc and that one day men can achieve Godhood… I mean, the Mormon church, Mormons who believe in that or not, still taught that!

    The bottom line is, there seems to be no solid defense from the Mormons to the inconsistencies that their documents pose to the Bible. On top of that, all of the “secrecy” that surrounds their religion, whether you like it or not, does exist there. There is no secrecy in Christianity, no rituals… Jesus of the Bible was and is consistent to this day. There was no “accidental” prophesies, or re-writing history in the “religion” of Christ.

    To close, I do love and continue to carry out my day-to-day relationships with the Mormons in my life. There are just so many holes in their faith that cannot be explained to me, therefore I continue to not believe what they believe.

  19. Dave

    Christ follower,

    I only popped into the conversation to make my point about the Bible, but ok, since you asked. I’m sorry you have never had those particular concerns addressed before. They’ve all been addressed a number of times, so in the interest of space I’ll just refer you to the following links:

    On the prophetic test of Deuteronomy, and false prophecies. 18 (I particularly like this one)

    On the prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ

    On the prophecy that the temple would be rebuilt within a generation.

    We know these familiar arguments against Joseph Smith being a prophet. In light of the information in those links, and the fact that I have read and very much believe the Book of Mormon, I’m convinced he’s a prophet.

    Also, thanks for your comments on the Book of Mormon. I get so used to people accusing it of being in total contradiction with the Bible, that it’s refreshing to hear someone suggest it was borrowed from the Bible. And while I’m sorry your Mormon friends never talked to you about the church, I think it’s nice to know we’re not so pushy about our religion as a lot of people accuse us of being.

  20. Jan

    Christ follower, with no disrespect intended, did you honestly just leave a comment about how Mormons don’t like to share their beliefs on a Mormon Belief website? With contributors all over the country who are practically jumping out of their skin at the chance to talk about their beliefs? Maybe, since you were surrounded by Mormons, they just assumed that you already were one?

    I think you’ll find that if you respond to Mormons who talk to you about their religion with an open heart and mind and don’t put them in a defensive position about their beliefs right away with obscure and non-doctrinal quirks, they will be more likely to open up about it. (for more examples, see pretty much every comment on our blog).

    I think you are right though, Mormons are more reserved about their beliefs–we don’t have “Jesus Saves!” bumper stickers and we don’t say “thanks be to God” in response to everything; but I think that it is a result of a couple of things: a verse in the Doctrine and Covenants that admonishes us to reverence the name of Christ. And secondly, because when we do share our beliefs, we get mocked, questioned and anti-ed. But, of course, that is not a reason for us to not share what we have, so come on, Mormons! Let’s do better!

  21. christ follower

    Oh Dave, I am afraid it had to come to this. While I respect your 3 examples of Joseph’s supposed “prophecies”, let me enlighten you with why I factually and respectfully cannot accept them:

    1 – Prophetic test of Deuteronomy. I do not belive Deuteronomy to have any fault, but on the basis that the Mormon church is using these verses to validate Joseph Smith being a true prophet regarding that he stated Jesus would not return to the earth until he is approx. 85 years old, not returning any sooner (not that Jesus WOULD return when he is 85, and this is where the critics “twist” the statement saying that this didn’t happen when Joseph turned 85, therefore he prophesied falsely)… OK, at this point, I am with you and fully agree with you. However, there is a problem… on other occasions in Joseph Smith’s life, for instance on February 14, 1835 he made a similar statement that the coming of the Lord was near, even fifty-six years should wind up the scene (which would put us at 1890/91ish). This statement alone, which puts Joseph at guess what age… 85 (and there are other statements made by Joseph Smith that coincide with this) dismisses your first point… Joseph did put a “date” in some cases on when expected Jesus to return and that prophecy was not fulfilled. As stated earlier by a previous entry, it takes only ONE false prophecy to make a false prophet.

    2 – The prophecy on the second coming of Christ… how does this validate Joseph? Just curious? It has been prophesied well before his time that the second coming of Christ will occur. I have said that, countless other human beings have said that. Does that make us all prophets? Hardly.

    3 – The temple would be rebuilt within a generation
    Same rhetoric as #2… I had predicted that a Target would be built in my city by a certain year and it happened…does that make me a prophet? I certaintly don’t think so! : ) The minister of the church I attended years ago “predicted” that they would have their 2nd church building completed within the decade and that happened… and he most certaintly does not consider himself a prophet either.

    And lastly, your comment regarding that you were delighted that Joseph borrowed sections from the Bible… hmmm… last I checked that was considered forgery and is illegal.

    Dave, please do not take my comments offensively, as I do not intend any harm in them. I enjoy disagreements, as they are productive and refining! Just as iron sharpens iron, sparks may fly but the result is a sharp edge!

    Jan,

    Yes, I DID make that statement on this Mormon website about Mormons being rerserved with their faith and I will continue to stand by this statement until I am proven otherwise. I am impressed though, with the various websites I have come across that promote and preach Mormonism. Again, I just have never witnessed that same fevor that I do with Mormons in person. And I apologize for not being a little more descriptive on Christians when they share their faith in Jesus… it’s not the “person” per se that is sharing their faith… what I stated about that passion…that passion has an origination. Jesus’s love and grace is so powerful that it is too hard to contain it! That is why many are compelled to buy the bumper stickers and give all of their thanks to God because we are really nothing without Jesus. What I am saying is, it is not our own will, but God’s will to spread the TRUTH, and he uses us as his vessels to show his light. And there is just an intensity that God ordains his people with that it just naturally spills over in any way it can! I wouldn’t call that “pushy”. I call that powerful. And those Christians who come across as pushy, you are absolutely right. You must remember though that we are HUMAN and IMPERFECT so we don’t always get it right! (LOL, which is one of the reasons I am on here today trying to promote Biblical Christianity speaking with you good folks obviously!) I just am honestly saying that I have yet to come across that same, vehement need in themselves to profess their Mormon faith. It is not a human power, but a Godly power, and if we are both “Christian”, I do not see that.

    I have gathered history and information about Mormons over the past 10 years (off and on) and yes, there are some misunderstandings regarding the “quirks” of temple endowments, beliefs about exhaltation, differing “kingdoms” in the afterlife, baptizing ceremonies for the dead, etc… and I would never dare ridicule someone over these issues. I whole hartedly disagree with most of these aspects of your religion, as with Christianity there are no “signs” or “tokens” (even if these are metaphorical) in accepting Jesus as savior and being given eternal life. There are no levels of Heaven, there is either Heaven or Hell. PERIOD. There are no extra criterion to secure salvation in Christ. Biblical Christianity is very blatant, honest, and has never changed over the centuries. It needs no further “clarification” or “explanation” with additional writings. It is perfect the way it has been laid out for us. There is no need to be Mormon or accept Mormon religion to dwell forever in eternity with Christ in Biblical Christiantiy.

    As I stated before, I do have a great love for the Mormon people, and as a Biblical Christian who rejects Mormonism, I DO NOT reject its people. I honestly feel that your religion is greatly misunderstood by many and instead of witnessing Mormons who desire to have their prophecy understood by the masses, they have spent much of their time trying to cover up the history of the church. Most Mormons I have come across are not even aware of their factual history of the church.

    You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. God bless!

  22. Dave

    Christ follower,

    I think you may have missed the point of those three links. They’re not examples of correct prophecies from Joseph Smith, they were addressing the idea of false prophets in general and the specific “false prophecies” that Kimo brought up, as you had requested. I think you’ll find in the second one a treatment of the concern about the date of the second coming of Christ that you just brought up.

    At any rate, I’ll repeat my previous assertion that of all the problems I’ve ever heard that anyone has ever had with Joseph Smith being a prophet, I’ve not found any particularly convincing in light of everything else. (Particularly that I really believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.)

    And don’t worry, my positive response to your comment about the Book of Mormon being ripped off the Bible was supposed to be a little tongue-in-cheek.

    God bless

  23. keith

    Why is the book of mormon was written in sixteenth century english. Could not GOD speak to joseph Smith in 18 century english? Do mormon missionaries go to other countries to minister, and find out how they spoke hundreds of years beforehand. And witness to them in words no longer used etc. Seams pretty hypocritical but this is just another of mormonism many. Is the MARK OF CAIN STILL BLACK SKIN as Smith & Young both taught. Or is it okay for a mormon prophet to be wrong say 9 out of 10 times!!!!!!!!

  24. Thaddeus

    Keith, you bring up some good points. The 16th century English question has led me to wonder about it myself. From what I’ve read, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon into what was felt at the time to be the ‘language of scripture.’ I can give you some references if you’d like to learn more about it.

    Your other point about the mark of Cain requires a deep investment in learning the actual facts. I suggest starting at the FAIR wiki.

  25. pc

    I consider myself a “liberal” christian…meaning I grew up in a christian church (non LDS), became a lost sheep, and now trying to find my way back with the bible.

    Growing up, I had plenty of Mormon friends (like a previous poster) but we never discussed religious beliefs… which was good for me since I wouldn’t have been able to defend any of my own beliefs. In any case…I found the website below, and want to hear what Mormons think in regards to the reasons stated why Mormons are not christians. I understand that some of the questions have already been addressed.. but still.

    http://www.irr.org/MIT/is-mormonism-christian.html

    Let me make it clear that I am in no way attacking the LDS church or Mormons. I personally believe that being saved by christ is not dependent on what church, demonination, etc a person comes from. I know plenty of people that call themselves Christians (as I used to) but didn’t live their lives to their so-called beliefs. I respect the fact that Mormons, or many of the ones that I have come across, try to live their life according the the scriptures, albeit BOM. But if a person believes in christ, believes that he died for our salvation and accepts him… ur a christian to me. Just want to hear what you guys think about the arguments laid forth on the website.

  26. pc

    one last thing…

    Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses said “I want you to tell them, and tell all the great men of the earth, that the Latter-day Saints are to be their redeemer….. believe in God, believe in Jesus, and believe in Joseph his prophet, and in Brigham his successor, and I add, if you believe in your hearts and confess with your mouth Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph was a prophet, and Brigham is his successor, you should be saved in the kingdom of God.”

    Is this still agreed up on in the LDS church?

    Ephesians 2: 8-9 says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

  27. Thaddeus

    pc, I appreciate you taking a level-headed, calm tone with us. Not everyone gives us the opportunity to give our side, let alone listen to it. It means a lot to us.

    You asked a mouthful. I don’t have the energy tonight to step through each point on that site. Every single argument (plus some) is addressed in a landmark book “Are Mormons Christians” by Dr. Stephen E. Robinson. I recommend buying it if you want to hear a full and fair argument. Lightplanet also has a good resource on the topic.

    If we can pin down maybe one or two of the issues that puzzle you most, we’d love to discuss them with you.

  28. Thaddeus

    pc,
    I tried looking up that Journal of Discourses quote you posted, but I wasn’t able to find it. Do you have a reference?

    I want to say that of course Brigham Young was wrong, because he is wrong in the context you are prone to think. With appropriate background information, though, I can see what he was trying to get across. It isn’t that salvation will come through him or Joseph Smith, it is that to fully unlock the power of Christ’s atonement one must receive the restored gospel and the authorized priesthood ordinances of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, Jesus physically came to Joseph and Brigham and many others; they were made Apostles. To receive baptism or the gift of the Holy Ghost or priesthood power requires going to the Lord’s authorized servants.

    It would be similar to Paul saying something along the lines of “…tell all the great men of the earth, that the Christian Saints are to be their redeemer…believe in God, believe in Jesus, and believe in Peter his chief Apostle now leading the Church…” “Redeemer” in this sense indicates the same sentiment that Jesus expressed when he called upon His disciples to be the salt of the earth. The Saints don’t have the power to redeem from sin and death, but they have access to the Great Redeemer, and they can bring neighbors to His Church.

    Does that make sense? Of course, it does assume that Joseph Smith really did speak to God and was made an authorized spokesman for Him (like Peter). I’m willing to bet that’s an assumption you don’t share with me, but it’s a proposition I hope you will take seriously. Have you read the Book of Mormon?

  29. Willie

    The Journal of Discourses quote pc mentioned is on Volume 6, page 229. There are actually a few paragraphs contained in the “…” above which give a bit of context to what Brigham Young was saying here.
    Thaddeus is right when he guessed the quote was talking about the Priesthood, and how it would be necessary to receive the ordinances from the Lord’s authorized servants.

  30. PC, I looked over the website and I think the basic misunderstanding is that Mormons are not claiming to be traditional orthodox, trinitarian Christians at all. We know we don’t fit under those labels. However, we don’t believe that Christianity as a whole should be defined so narrowly by “orthodoxy” established in the 4th century.

    Mormons tend to lean towards the understanding that anyone who believes that salvation comes through Jesus Christ is a Christian. That’s why we have no problem saying we’re Christian and all other “traditional” Christians are Christian too. But we’re not saying that we’re Christians in exactly the same way as everybody else. We have some unique differences that we feel are important. Therefore, if “Christian” as a generic label isn’t good enough, then by all means add whatever other modifiers you would like. For example, you could say that Mormons are non-Nicene, non-trinitarian, or simply non-traditional Christians.

  31. Thaddeus

    One more thought: we are using the word “Christian” in different ways.

    pc, your definition seems to tie in directly with those who are “saved.” Saved = Christian, Damned = non-Christian.

    We don’t attach that meaning to the word. We just want proper taxonomy, like an alligator is classified as a reptile, we want to be classified as a Christian because that is the group we make the most sense belonging to.

    We don’t really expect other denominations to judge us as “saved” (it doesn’t really bother me, since final judgment is the Lord’s role, not the clergy’s). We do hope they will recognize our desire to believe in and follow Jesus, but they can believe we’re damned to hell if they like.

  32. PC

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for clearing that up for me. I guess it really does come down to interpretation, such as the word “christian”.

    Thaddeus..to be clear, my definition of “Christian” is not about who will be saved. As a liberal thinker, the idea of people not being saved because they aren’t “christian” is ridiculous to me. I think in the end, God will be the judge of what’s in people’s hearts and minds… and what church, demonination, etc you come from doesn’t really matter. To me, it’s about how you live your life.

    God bless to all of you and thank you for addressing my question…

    And Thaddeus.. I haven’t read the BOM. Still working on the bible. lol

  33. Bus Gillespie

    I found this story on another site arguing the same thing:
    The Heretic

    I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well, are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are your Christian or Buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, Me too! Are your Episcopalian or Baptist? He said, “Baptist!” I said, “Wow! Me too! Are your Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord? He said, Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are your Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off.

  34. Studying this in my Youth Group

    as my name states, my youth group is studying this debate at my church. We even bought a Book of Mormon to help better understand. I dont pretend to know everything about Mormonism, but I do have quite a bit of knowledge about argument. and it seems to me that almost all of my Mormon friends (and i have many and i love each one dearly) seem to talk in circles when they try to argue Mormonism is Christianity. Im not saying that Mormons are bad people or anything because i know them to be very wonderful and loving…but i know what i’ve read and what i’ve learned from Mormons themselves…and nothing about it adds up to the Christianity and the modern world defines it. Mormonism is TECHNICALLY a cult, not a world-recognized member of the Church.

  35. Curtis "Curtis" Wiederhold

    “and nothing about it adds up to the Christianity and the modern world defines it”

    How would you say the modern world defines Christianity?

  36. Studying this in youth group, as Curtis alludes, this all depends on how you define Christianity.

    Another question I’ve asked on my own blog is this: How Do You Define A “Christian”?

    http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2009/07/how-do-you-define-christian.html

    PS: Rather than talking in circles, perhaps you’re simply talking past each other.

  37. Youth Group,

    This talk by Elder Holland might help elucidate the discussion. One thing to consider, too, is the tone of your youth group at church–are you trying to prove that we aren’t Christian? Have you prayed about it?

  38. Dave

    Youth group,

    Latter Day Saints are on wikipedia’s “List of Christian Denominations.” I think that satisfies me on the world recognition point. Though it should be noted that regardless of whether anyone agrees with us or not, we will always continue to call ourselves true Christians. We know in Whom we put our faith.

    Nevertheless, I’m glad your youth group has taken upon itself to decide on behalf of the entire world whether to call us Christian or not. Just make sure to let us (and the world community) know if you come up with any more breakthroughs.

  39. Studying this in youth group

    hahaha anyone can get onto Wikipedia and change things…i don’t really trust that site:P And we aren’t deciding to call Mormons non-Christians. I’m at a non-denominational church…we are just studying world religions. Last we we talked about the different denominations of Christianity. Its just study. And quite frankly there are pretty huge differences between Mormonism and Christianity. I’m just simply exploring the counterargument…and like i said, its all just circles to me.

  40. Dave

    You know, I have to agree that there are pretty huge differences (theologically) between Mormonism and, say, Protestantism. Also, between Mormonism and Roman Catholicism. And between Mormonism and almost every other Christian denomination out there. But then, there are very big theological differences between Catholics and Protestants. Between Syriacs and Catholics. Between Coptics and Ethiopians and Armenian Orthodox. At some points in history, each of those groups has officially declared one or all of the others to be heretics, and excommunicated them. (The charge heresy is a very old one.) The differences aren’t trivial. Some of them have to do with the very nature of the Father, or Jesus Christ, or salvation itself.

    In our case, the differences are really important to us. Those differences are what makes us Mormons. They’re the reason I spent two entire years of my life basically knocking on doors every day in Texas. They were not generally Muslim or Buddhist or Jewish doors. They were Christians. And I was there to tell them that we have something unique. Something else. It’s a restoration. More revelation. More scripture.

    So yeah, we have some beliefs that are unique completely to us. We may not agree about the requirements for salvation, or even the details on the nature of God. But that doesn’t change the fact that our central belief is still faith in Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. This is a belief we share with all sects and denominations of Christianity, and this is why we call ourselves Christians.

    You should explore around this site. Also http://www.mormon.org. and http://www.lightplanet.com are other good ones. See what’s the same; see what’s different.

  41. Kimo

    Wow, this has been a very busy thread.

    When we talk about whether Mormons are Christians, my feeling is that Man’s opinion on the matter should not be the focus. If the term Christian refers to someone accepted by God into his family, ultimately it is only his opinion that matters. We are not here to please man but to please God. So the challenge is to decide what God has said about the matter in scripture. In the New Testament there are plenty of people who claim to follow Christ who are considered heretics. They include the Gnostics, Judiasers and others. The Gnostics would say they believed in Jesus, however they only believed Jesus was a “spiritual being” and not a physical man because of trying to blend their old pagan religious beliefs with Jesus’s teachings. They also introduced some of their own writings/books and insisted they were inspired by God. The apostle Paul and the disciples considered these groups as “non-Christians” and dangerous to the faith because they denied the physical death and suffering of Christ (and thus his payment for mankind’s sins). One key test for true scripture is if it is in agreement with the rest of scripture. There are many many parts of Mormon theology that conflict radically with the Bible which demonstrates that the new elements should not be accepted as Christian doctrine. I can post some of the specifics later. Also, Christians would test all of Joseph Smith’s prophesies to see if every one came true. If not, then he is proven as a false prophet. When I have a few more minutes, I’ll post more of the specific false prophecies of Joseph Smith.

    When it comes to Catholics, Orthodox and the multitudes of denominations in the Christian faith, they all rely on the Bible. The differences are not radical on the central elements of the faith. God’s family is not made up of any denomination. He accepts those with a true saving faith in Jesus regardless of what name they use. And it has nothing to do with how good a person is. People want to be good (the Holy Spirit compels them) because they are Christians . . . they aren’t Christians because they are good. True Christians recognize that they could never be good enough for God which is one reason they seek out and accept Jesus’ forgiveness for their sin and follow him. Just like there are plenty of RINOS (Republicans in name only), there are also CHINOS (Christians in name only) from every denomination & faction of Christianity. The real Christians are the ones with the true faith in Jesus as judged by God.

    The questions a previous poster had about why the book of Mormon was written in sixteenth century English sure is an eye opening one especially since it was written in the early 1800s from what was claimed to be ancient gold plates. My explanation would be that since Joseph Smith copied word for word (including small transcriptional errors) large sections from the King James Bible, he kept the rest of his writing in the same King James style to try and be consistent. It is easily validated that the text is word for word the same as the KJV. By the way, sixteenth century English is NOT the language of the scriptures as some would suggest . . . the language of the scriptures is Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. The bigger question is why would Joseph Smith copy from the King James Bible (errors included) if he had original text from the ancient gold plates and could accurately give a new translation word for word or idea for idea from those gold plates. Can you imagine scientists who found the dead sea scrolls saying that they didn’t need to translate it & they would just copy from the King James Bible! It just doesn’t add up at all. If he was divinely assisted, why did he include the transcriptional errors from the King James Bible? If you think skeptically about this with an open mind, this shows that Joseph Smith wrote the book himself and it was not divinely inspired with assisted translation and gold plates from an angel.

    I sure hope for the sake of my wonderful Mormon friends that God accepts them based upon their response to Jesus with what they know and understand. But, I don’t know. God was pretty unhappy with the Gnostics and Judiasers. I pray that Mormons will sincerely investigate the differences with Mormon theology and investigate Joseph Smith’s prophesies to judge if they are false. I can only hope that this would be done without accepting easy pat answers and blind faith. God is the ultimate fair judge and he fairly judges the conscience of man.

    Love to all,

    Kimo

  42. Kimo,

    I wonder where you got your information that it was copied word for word out of the KJV? Have you read any of the Book of Mormon? I was just curious how your theory checked out, so I compared the KJV Isaiah 48 with 1 Nephi 20 and in the first three verses alone, I found 26 differences! That is alot! He didn’t just copy it straight out of the Bible, Joseph Smith received inspiration and made lots of changes to the text of the Bible. In fact, most of those changes are strong testimonies that he was inspired. As the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other apocryphal accounts are being investigated and translated by scholars in our day, there are many places where Joseph Smith used the original, or previously unpublished terms, locations, and names that were not even known in the 1880s.

    I think the more likely answer to why it was written in a more archaic form of English is that the original language of reformed Egyptian probably had the informal ‘you’ and formal ‘you’ as other languages around the world do. English has largely dropped its informal ‘you’ – thee, thou, thine–and just stuck with the formal “you”. Anytime we read something that conjugates to the informal “thou showest me, thou art great. . .” it sounds archaic. But, as Joseph Smith was translating the book correctly from its source language, he needed to use both forms of you. This just makes it sound a little dated to our ears.

    That being said, I really don’t think the Book of Mormon is as hard to read as the Bible is. The sentences are very clear, the story moves along at a great clip and I don’t get as easily lost in the Book of Mormon as I do in, say, Ezekial.

  43. Kimo

    Hi Jancisco. Regarding copying out of the King James, I said that Joseph Smith copied “large sections” out of the King James Bible including transcriptional errors. If he was divinely inspired and translating from original gold plates, I would expect similarities in thought, but definitely not word for word paragraphs including transcriptional errors. I have read the book of Mormon because I want to be informed and hopefully understanding. I respect my Mormon friends for the sincere searching for God and for trying their best to live out their faith which has love as a centerpiece.

    Here are a few examples…

    [Editor’s note: This comment has been truncated because the full version violates this website’s Comment Policy. Please follow the rules or you will be asked to leave.]

  44. Wow, talk about mother of all threadjacks. Kimo, this post was about how Mormons can be called Christians, not the debate about Book of Mormon translation issues. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to take your off topic comments to, say, Jeff Lindsay’s site?

  45. Kimo

    Sorry for the lengthy reply. I was merely trying to answer Jancisco’s question on where specifically the KJV was copied into the Book of Mormon and also give the specific references as to where the King James Bible transcriptural errors were copied into the book of Mormon. This all ties back to the question of the thread which is “Are Mormon’s Christians”. The issues of accepting the book of Mormon as inspired scripture, conflicts of the Bible with LDS doctrine, and the legitimacy of Joseph Smith’s prophecies are important elements in answering this important question.

  46. Kimo,

    While I ultimately jive with your whole “let God say who is a Christian and who is not a Christian” idea, I think that it’s not going to contribute in the slightest to the issue of where the world should classify Mormons. It may be the least practical suggestion to a controversy that I’ve ever heard. Unless you want to just set aside the question until the Final Judgment before God, suggesting that the question “who is a Christian?” should be based on anyone’s idea of what is “correct doctrine” from the Bible is just going to move the discussion back into the familiar realm of doctrinal quibbling (as it very quickly did in this case). And we all know that we’re going to end up disagreeing about what the Christian scriptures say, so what’s the point?

    Should we stop calling the Reformed Jews “Jews”, just because some Orthodox Jews think that they have denied the faith (or vice versa?) Would we redefine the word “Muslim” just because some Sunni Muslims insisted that the Shi’ite Muslims are not “true Muslims”, or vice versa? Would we ever be so stunningly rude as to officially deny anyone the right to self-identify?

    Of course not. We (the world in general) just recognize that there are different kinds of Islam, or Judaism, or Christianity, or Buddhism. And they might have mutually exclusive claims to being “true Buddhists” or “true Christians” or “true Muslims”, but we don’t try to load the word itself with so many restrictions that it stops becoming a useful classification.

    It’s interesting to me to note that Evangelical Christians in the U.S. are the only ones that I’ve ever personally heard try to define Christianity on what are essentially exclusionary salvific terms. My Catholic friends, of course, would probably take issue with my personal salvation on doctrinal grounds, but I don’t think they would ever suggest that I am therefore not a Christian no matter what I claim.

    I’m interested to know: is that everyone else’s experience also, and if so, why do you think that is?

  47. Kimo

    Willie,

    Thanks for the link to the article. On the one hand the article says that “It seems clear that Joseph Smith was led to translate many passages as they appear in the King James Bible and made changes specifically by exception”. But the article contradicts itself by also saying that there is no way Joseph Smith copied from the KJV because he probably didn’t own a bible and his method of translation included putting his head in his hat with the seer stone and was not seen to use a Bible.

    The article also compared methods used in translating the dead sea scrolls to the book or Mormon. The trouble with this is the translators of the dead sea scrolls were academics who did not claim divine authority or inspiration. Joseph Smith claimed not only original text from the gold plates provided by an angel, he also claimed supernatural translation powers. If his claim were correct, he would never have needed to consult with or copy from a King James bible. The article does not address why someone with divinely guided translation abilities would copy translation errors from a King James bible.

    The bottom line is that if the Book or Mormon is not accepted as authoritative scripture and Joseph Smith is shown to not be a true prophet, then LDS doctrine can not be accepted as Christian.

  48. Kimo

    Hi Dave,

    I find myself wondering why there is so much desire for Mormons to want to be recognized by the world as Christians. For me, I try and focus on pleasing God and care little for how the world would “classify” me. I suppose I can understand this if you are wanting your children to be accepted as “mainstream” and deal with less peer scrutiny, etc.? The reason Evangelicals more commonly consider “salvation” is because they are more likely to emphasize the Bible’s teaching that being a Christian is based upon having a relationship with Jesus Christ as opposed to Christianity being merely a religion of rules and rituals.

    Anyhow, if I must think about it from the worlds point of view and a mere academic classification, then I would say that Mormon’s should not be classified as Christian because they accept as scripture significant writings and radical departures in theology that are not accepted by the Christian community. Christians are no longer considered followers of Judiasm because we accept the teachings of Jesus and his apostles in addition to the Old Testament. Mormons are not considered Christians because they follow the teachings and writings provided by Joseph Smith.

    Self Identification for anything does not make something true. Singer after singer on American Idol try-outs self identify themselves as the greatest singers ever yet they certainly are not and are not accepted as such. People go to jail for self-identifying as a Doctor when they don’t have the credentials. I would guess that Mormon’s do not accept Christian Scientists and Jehovahs Witnesses as Christians even though they might self identify. The Gnostics self-identify as “Christians”, yet the apostle Paul did not accept their self identification.

    Kimo

  49. Kimo, I agree that the King James language of Isaiah and Malachi and Paul in the Book of Mormon has made me wonder about it. I’ve had many of the same questions you do. They are valid concerns, but I do not think they are sufficient grounds to dismiss the book. Scholars studying this issue have found reasonable explanations to the issues you bring up.

    If the Book of Mormon were composed entirely of such passages I think your reasoning would be convincing, but the majority of the book is original and compelling. The reason I believe in it is due to its “goodness.” It very effectively testifies of the divinity of Jesus and teaches His gospel plainly. Whenever I read it, it’s delicious and makes me want to be more like the Master.

    Have you read it, Kimo?