The Gospel Coalition

Note: The FAQs is TGCs new series in which we answer your questions about the latest news and current events. Although the series normally attempts to be as fact-based and objective as possible, this entry relies on scriptural interpretation that some Christians may consider wrong or at least open to debate.

"Are Mormons Christian?" Since the 1820s, when Joseph Smith founded the religious movement, evangelicals and other orthodox Christians have answered with a resounding "no." Over the past decade, though, many Americans have begun to provide a different response. In an interview with CNN, megachurch pastor Joel Osteen said that while the Mormon faith is "not traditional Christianity" he still views them as "brothers in Christ."

And earlier this month, the widely read evangelical blogger David French wrote,
I'd argue that our view of salvation --- whether Arminian or Reformed --- is of enormous consequence, going directly not only to the nature of God but also how we understand each moment of our lives, yet I rarely hear anyone seriously ask, "Are Methodists Christian?" Perhaps that's not so much because the theological differences aren't real and profound but because we've made our historical peace through shared understanding of our faith in Christ. Perhaps its time that we make that same peace with Mormons.

Are Mormons our fellow "brothers in Christ?" Are the theological distinctions between Mormonism and evangelicalism similar to the differences between Presbyterians and Methodists?

In order to examine these questions, I've compiled answers from various resources and subject-area experts and presented them in the form of a FAQ. This article is not intended to be an in-depth explanation of Mormon history or theology, but rather an examination of areas that are relevant to the question of whether Mormons should be considered by evangelicals to be Christians. For more information on Mormonism I recommend Andrew Jackson's Mormonism Explained: What Latter-day Saints Teach and Practice.

What do Mormons believe about God?

Mormons claim that God the Father was once a man and that he then progressed to godhood (that is, he is a now-exalted, immortal man with a flesh-and-bone body). (1 - ESV Study Bible article on religious cults)

According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Doctrine and Covenants, "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also;" but "The Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit."

As Kevin DeYoung says,
Whether God the Father is self-existent is unclear. There was a long procession of gods and fathers leading up to our Heavenly Father. Brigham Young once remarked, "How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds."

What is clearer is that the Mormon God is not a higher order or a different species than man. God is a man with a body of flesh and bones like us. (2 - Kevin DeYoung, "Mormonism 101")

Do Mormons believe in the Godhead?

Yes, but Mormons mean something completely different by the term "Godhead" than it has been understood throughout Christian history. As Mormon leader Bruce D. Porter explains,
The Book of Mormon refers in several passages to God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost as "one God," but Latter-day Saints understand this to mean they are one in mind, purpose, will, and intention. Their unity is the same unity of which Christ spoke in his high-priestly prayer following the Last Supper: that his disciples may "be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21). Hence, Latter-day Saints rarely use the term Trinity, but prefer the title Godhead to refer to the three divine beings who govern our universe in perfect oneness." [emphasis in original] (3 - Porter, "Is Mormonism Christian?")

Do Mormons believe in the Trinity?

No. As the religion scholar Gerald R. McDermott notes, "At the end of his life, in his King Follett funeral sermon (1844), Joseph Smith prophesied against the Trinity, saying that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate Gods." (3 - McDermott, "Is Mormonism Christian?)

What is the Mormon view of Jesus?

Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was the firstborn spirit-child of the heavenly Father and a heavenly Mother. Jesus then progressed to deity in the spirit world. He was later physically conceived in Mary's womb, as the literal "only begotten" Son of God the Father in the flesh (though many present-day Mormons remain somewhat vague as to how this occurred). (1)

Porter explains that,
A vital aspect of Latter-day Saint theology---and its most obvious difference from traditional Christianity---is the belief that Jesus Christ is an individual being, separate from God the Father in corporeality and substance. Mormons do not accept the phrase in the Nicene Creed that describes the Father and Son as being "of one substance," nor do we accept subsequent creeds by ecumenical councils that sought to clarify the nature of the Trinity in language describing them as one indivisible spiritual being. (2)

How many Gods do Mormons believe exist?

At least four separate gods. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism teaches that there is a "Mother in Heaven," who is like the Heavenly Father "in glory, perfection, compassion, wisdom, and holiness." God "is plural," it declares.

Is Mormonism polytheistic?

Mormons deny they are polytheistic. As McDermott explains,
The theologian Stephen Robinson denies that Mormonism is polytheistic, and strictly speaking he is right. Polytheism portrays a world in which competing gods either vie for ultimate authority or have delimited provinces over which they rule. The Mormon picture is closer to henotheism, which posits a supreme God over other lesser, subordinate gods. The Mormons say that the Father is at least functionally over the Son and the Holy Ghost, and they are the only Gods with which we have to do.

How do Mormons view orthodox Christians?

That we are apostates. Mormons claim that "total" apostasy overcame the church following apostolic times, and that the Mormon Church (founded in 1830) is the "restored church." (1)

Are Mormons Christian?

No. On many key points Mormon beliefs are antithetical to historic Christian orthodoxy. However noble the intentions for wanting to include them as "brothers and sisters in Christ," we do violence to the historical understanding of the term "Christian" by expanding it to mean those who have rejected orthodox Christian beliefs for a nineteenth-century heretical theology.

We can't love our neighbor and turn a blind eye to their eternal fate. We should therefore pray diligently that our friends and family who put their trust in this false religion might come to know and accept the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sources: 

1 - ESV Study Bible article on religious cults as quoted by Justin Taylor

2 - Kevin DeYoung, "Mormonism 101"

3, 4 - Bruce D. Porter / Gerald R. McDermott, "Is Mormonism Christian?"

Other Articles in "The FAQs" Series:



Comments:

[...] the faq – are mormons christian? [...]

Weekly Meanderings

May 5, 2012 at 12:09 AM

[...] Republicans, though I have appreciated their lack of interest in taking sides in politics. Hence, this piece by Joe Carter, which unequivocally states that Mormons are not Christians (and they aren’t), shapes the [...]

6-String Salvo « Mike Lee

May 4, 2012 at 04:35 AM

[...] With the likely nomination of Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential candidate, here’s a great answer to the question, “Are Mormons Christian?”  Short answer is [...]

[...] self-existent, all-powerful creator God that Christianity proclaims. Here’s a great FAQ on “Are Mormons Christians” from the Gospel [...]

[...] larger discussion that included reference to Aaron Shafovaloff’s video project, God Never Sinned, Francis wrote,“Actually they don’t teach that he was once a mortal man, what is taught is that he has a [...]

paul Cummings

May 2, 2012 at 08:01 AM

If I call a "Tree" something with a large round trunk that happens to be brown, with brown stick-like appendages and green wavy things at the end of the sticks...
And you call a "Tree" something that is shiny-silver, octagonal with purple polka-dots...

...then, we're not talking about the "same thing".

The man whom Mormon's talk of as "Christ" doesn't even closely resemble the Christ of scripture and history...

[...] a pretty good discussion of differences between Mormonism and orthodox Christianity. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

PuritanD71

May 1, 2012 at 10:06 PM

As you may note Poqui, you are in error. The Trinity is a doctrine not a concept, that is solely based on Biblical evidence and teaching.

Deut 6:4 and John 10:30 emphasizes that there is just one God. He is revealed in three persons with a unity of essence. However, you seem stuck on a word that Brandon has demonstrated as to how it is used and understood.

PuritanD71

May 1, 2012 at 09:54 PM

Great Comment Brandon....I could not have said it better myself....may our God use these opportunities for Truth to bear out and shed the needed light.

Brandon E

May 1, 2012 at 09:28 PM

Poqui, the Scriptures apply "only begotten" to Christ the Son according to His divinity (John 1:18; 3:16, 18), "firstborn of creation" concerning his position in the creation as an incarnated man (Col 1:15), and "Firstborn" among many brethren concerning Christ resurrecting from the dead to become the prototype for the believers as the many sons of God through regeneration to be conformed into the image of the same glory (Acts 13:33; Col. 1:18; Rom. 1:3-4; 8:29-30; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:5).

Brandon E

May 1, 2012 at 09:16 PM

Except that the New Testament just as strongly teaches that there is one God, not a plurality of gods who are by nature the same kind of being as the eternal, unchanging Creator. Moreover, Jesus is identified with Yahweh/Jehovah, as many in the LDS recognize, and the Old Testament identifies Yahweh/Jehovah with Elohim ("Yahweh our Elohim" in Deut. 6:4; "Yahweh Elohim" in Gen. 2:4-3:23; the interchangeability of Yahweh and Elohim in Psalm 14 and 53), not as two separate beings. The failure to see the link is a strike against LDS theology. You may arbitrarily claim that the text is corrupt, but if you think that we should think that the Scriptures are that unreliable then we may as well not be having this conversation about what the Scriptures say about God.

The Jewish religionists tried to stone Jesus because they perceived that He was putting Himself at the same level as God, not because He was teaching what the LDS teaches about the nature of God as realized by all Christian groups outside the LDS and its splinter groups.

As I mentioned in the other comment, "Elohim" belongs to a class of Hebrew verbs that are plural in form but single or unquantifiable in number, and the verb markers are always singular in the Old Testament when the word is applied to the true and living God instead of to false "gods" or idols. That the plural "us" and "our" is used in Genesis is consistent with the Christian notion of the Trinity.

When you can show that "God the Father" was not always God but had to "become" God or to progress unto godhood as taught emphatically by many LDS prophets, apostles, elders and publications then maybe you will be taken seriously when declaring what the Scriptures say about God.

[...] for some solid teaching to reaffirm what you have already studied, the Gospel Coaltion have posted a lengthy FAQ “Are Mormons Christian?”  Share [...]

Brandon E

May 1, 2012 at 05:05 AM

"See now that I, I am He,
And there is no god besides Me;"
-Deuteronomy 32:39

"Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me."
-Isa. 43:10

"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
‘I am the first and I am the last,
And there is no God besides Me."
-Isa. 44:6

"Is there any God besides Me,
Or is there any other Rock?
I know of none.’"
-Isa. 44:6-8

"And there is no other God besides Me,
A righteous God and a Savior;
There is none except Me."
-Isa. 45:21

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!"
-Deut. 6:4

"Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God."
-Psa. 90:2

"Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen nor can see, to whom be honor and eternal emight. Amen."
-1 Tim. 6:16

What's not in the Bible but taught by LDS prophets, apostles, manuals, etc. is that God the Father was not always God but is an exalted man.

In Hebrew the the word "Elohim" belongs to class of Hebrew verbs that are plural in form but single or unquantifiable in number, such as "shamayim" (sky/heaven), "mayim" (water), "betulim" (virginity), "chayim" (life). Moreoever, in the Hebrew the whenever "Elohim" is applied to the God of Israel the verb markings are singular, and whenever the word "Elohim" is applied to pagan gods (false gods, idols) the verb markings are plural.

These scriptural passges, plus the information about Hebrew usage, plus the fact that orthodox Jews and all Christians prior to Joseph Smith are all monotheists, shows the LDS concept of God is not in the Bible.

[...] Are Mormons Christian? [...]

Dana

July 30, 2012 at 11:00 PM

I have a question. It is obvious to me that the official literature of LDS displays a different and inappropriate view of Christ. One can easily tear apart many historical issues in the Book of Mormon as well as note the changing theology through new "revelations" from their current prophet - which shows the organization believes God is changing.

However, my question lies here: What is the difference between what is taught and widely believed within the LDS community versus what is in their literature? I am getting the impression that as the organization strives to be considered part of the mainstream Christian community that their teachings are aligning closer and closer to the Jesus of the Bible rather than the Jesus of their literature.

[...] Are Mormons Christian? [...]

[...] about Romney’s biblical stances on popular social issues, but very little about Mormonism’s rejection of major theological concepts evangelicals traditionally hold dear (the nature of God’s existence and Christ’s divinity, as [...]

Alex Smale

August 3, 2012 at 06:33 PM

I know, I know, truth is not a question of counting hands. And so my comment does not address this issue. For the purpose of this comment, I would like to differentiate between two groups. The first group, I will describe as those people who claim that the Bible, comprised of the New Testament and the Old Testament, is the only book which can be categorized as the Word of God as it pertains to Christianity. Thus, this groups would include Catholics and Protestants. The second group,the Mormons, claim to have additional revelation. This revelation, the Book of Mormon, as well as the numerous writings of thier many prophets over the decades are all claimed to be the divinely revealed word of God. Mormons also recognize the Bible as having been inspired but do not hold as to its accuracy.
Both of these groups have a clear mandate: to spread the gospel to the world.
Today, about 2.3 billion people would describe themselves as belonging to group one, or 33% of the world's population.
In contrast, 14 million people would describe themselves as being in group 2, or about 0.005% of the world's population.
So which group has been most effective in thier mandate? I realize that Group 1 has been in existence for a longer peiod of time, but technology and modern communication is a great equalizer in this respect. The fact is that group 2 can at best be described as anemic and had failed in its mandate. Mormonism has failed. The majority of people in the world have never heard of it and the ones that have, few know anything about it. Even Mormons themselves are often kept in the dark about contraversial church history and doctrine. Are Mormons Christians the way Catholics and Protestants understand the concept. SURELY NOT. Not only do we differ in our definition of the nature of Christ, we also differ on his purpose. For Mormons almost everyone goes to some form of heaven regardless of faith, and only Mormons make it to the highest level of heaven. Is faith enough to get Mormons into this highest level. NO. For the mormon,they require faith plus obedience to very specific mormon doctrine to get to the highest level ( such as being married and having that marriage sealed in the temple).Oh and until 1978, blacks could not make it because they were cursed. Even the mormon president has publicly acknowledegd that the Jesus of mormonism is different than the the Jesus of mainstream Christianity, Thus I differentiate between the two groups. Judge the truth for yourself.

Eric

August 28, 2012 at 02:00 PM

@Jugulum,

Thank you for your comments. That isn't just an opening salvo. I mean that.

I suppose I was being too flippant when I used the word "screaming." My main point was to say that there is more that gets done when we listen, rather than when we talk.

As for my "makes no difference" comment, that too is over-stating the issue, and if we were in a one-on-one conversation I would have nuanced it better. The idea there was to defend Francis' view, which she was being assailed for (as I saw it). And also to try to show in the Mormon way of thinking how the idea of God "progressing" and being "the same yesterday, today, and forever" can co-exist as points of doctrine.

Finally, it "makes no difference" to our salvation. In that sense, the statement stands.

Peace to all.

Eric

August 27, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Of course, you could just go the simple to understand route that Poqui presented, and accept the scripture as it appears without trying to explain it away.

He really was speaking to His Father, in a conversation. That way, he STILL fulfills Psalm 22 and doesn't appear, without explanation, like a madman.

As for Deut. 6:4, it still counts when you consider John 17:21.

Jugulum

August 27, 2012 at 03:46 PM

Also, Eric, you said:
"Whatever God's status was before makes no difference, because ALL His revealed word must be understood through the prism of "this earth, and the inhabitants thereof." Everything else is speculation--and that's why it usually doesn't come up, even in a Mormon Sunday School."

Keep in mind the thing that you yourself pointed out: The King Follett Discourse was a funeral message, intended for comfort.

The things that Joseph Smith did clearly say (about God once being a man who lived on an earth) were not intended as speculation, and I cannot imagine that he would agree that it "makes no difference".

He considered it relevant and helpful to his mourning flock.

You can remind us that there is much he didn't say (i.e. much that is speculation), but you can't brush aside the basic, clearly-stated theology.

Jugulum

August 27, 2012 at 03:36 PM

Eric,

I can see how there is much that the King Follett Discourse does not say about the doctrine of God and His past. And I can see a point about it being a funeral message intended for comfort. (It shouldn't surprise us if it leaves major questions unanswered, or doesn't speak with perfect precision.)

Yet that isn't a reason to minimize where Joseph Smith did speak with great clarity. His own explanation of his purpose was:
"I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning?"

And he very clearly said:
"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."
And:
"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; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible. [bold added]"

In light of that, do you think that Joseph Smith left you any room to question whether God was once a man who dwelt on an earth like we do, and like Jesus did?

------
Also, assuming you meant me: I didn't think I was "screaming". I try very hard to speak graciously, and avoid unnecessarily heated discussion. But I know I don't always succeed. (It still doesn't look heated to me, when I look back at my comments, though I can see a couple things I could've improved.) At any rate, I will take your comment as a reminder about graciousness & civility.

But please keep in mind yourself: If you too-flippantly say that people are "standing screaming at each other from different sides", that can be a way of dismissing us. It may have a soft tone, but it's still ungraciously dismissive. It violates the same principle that "screaming" violates.

Eric

August 27, 2012 at 01:24 PM

To Francis and all others:

Please don't be thrown by all this back and forth about Latter-day Saint tradition, and was or wasn't God a mortal man at some point in the eternities past.

The teaching (as man is, god once was, as god is man may become) is a part of LDS history and doctrine, but not a part of LDS canon. As you stand screaming at each other from different sides, ("You believe this! I'm shocked!" "No I don't! I'm shocked that you would say such a thing!") it must be remembered that the "King Follett Discourse," as that teaching of Joseph Smith has come to be known, was given at a funeral (for a man named King Follett, hence the title) and was meant to be words of comfort for those attending, more than it was meant to be solidly articulated doctrine.

Yet it is doctrine, and doctrine the LDS Church acknowledges as having been taught by its founder. But since he did not expand on it (he never had a chance to since he was murdered soon after) his words were never canonized, in this instance, and it has only been speculation ever since:

For instance, what DOES that mean in terms of the progress God would have had to make? Was he ever sinful? How many eons ago would that have taken place? At the Big Bang? Before? These are unanswerable questions, and so not taught in a Sunday School class. Much like the Trinity in the Evangelical Church, which Heather E. Carrillo pointed out is "a question that hundreds of essays and papers and books have been written on, and a couple of church counsels have met over," the King Follett Discourse remains a mystery of our faith, often written about but still fascinating.

What IS known, and why Francis can say with authority that she worships an Eternal Father in Heaven, is that God IS "from all eternity to all eternity." As is His Son. We can say that for two reasons:

1) We are ALL eternal beings. That is one of the major points we preach. That we were sent to earth to learn to become like our Father in Heaven, who is already and will forever be God. We are eternal as He is (Romans 8:16), and He was always Eternal, whether you accept that it took some progress for Him to arrive at godhood or not.

2) More importantly, God is, and was, and always will be, "The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity" AS FAR AS WE KNOW. There is a very important scripture in our Pearl of Great Price, in the Book of Moses, which IS canonized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "And it came to pass that Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them? . . . And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me. And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth. . . But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you." (Moses 1:30-32, 35)

Did everyone catch that last line (at least, that I quoted) of verse 35? "Only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you." Whatever God's status was before makes no difference, because ALL His revealed word must be understood through the prism of "this earth, and the inhabitants thereof." Everything else is speculation--and that's why it usually doesn't come up, even in a Mormon Sunday School.

Are Mormons Christian?

August 2, 2012 at 09:07 AM

[...] Are Mormons our fellow “brothers in Christ?” Are the theological distinctions between Mormonism and evangelicalism similar to the differences between Presbyterians and Methodists?  Continue Reading [...]

[...] Are Mormons Christian? [...]

Poqui

April 30, 2012 at 03:51 PM

The concept of "first born" or "first begotten" is a Biblical one found in Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:6; 12:23, it's not a Mormon invention.

Protestants can remove their priestly clothing when not officiating. Can the Jewish men go outside without their yarmulke? Nope, because it's part of who they are, all the time. Same with Mormons. And six bucks and a candy bar says that Jesus wore a yarmulke or some other head covering when He went around preaching.

Poqui

April 30, 2012 at 03:46 PM

The fact that Deut. 6:4 states that there is ONE God does not change the truth that Genesis speaks of Gods and uses the plural "us" and "our".

Paul taught that the Law of Moses was an inferior law that was given to the Israelites to bring them to understand the greater law that Christ taught. One of the teachings of this lesser law is the focus on ONE god. Hence why the Old Testament focuses on the existence of ONE god to differentiate with the polytheistic religions surrounding the Jews. When Jesus came and taught that He was sent by His Father, the Jews sought to stone Him for teaching the idea that God had a Son who was the Messiah. THAT is the context that governs how you translate a word.

Poqui

April 30, 2012 at 03:35 PM

@Princess -

The concept of the Trinity is not Biblical, that is why you are struggling to understand it and accept it. The idea of 3 in 1 is the result of decades of debates among philosophers.

If you want to be 100% Biblical, here is what it teaches:

1. There is one God - the Father. He is over all.

2. There is a distinct person called Jesus who is the Son of the Father. He also has the title of God but works under the direction of the Father. He came to atone for the sins of mankind and to defeat the enemy called death.

3. There is another person who has another distinct function called the Holy Spirit. His job is to testify of the words of God the Father and of Jesus.

That's all the Bible says. The three work together but God the Father is in charge. Consider these Bible passages:

Acts 7:55-56 - Stephen has a vision of heaven and sees both the Father and Son
Matt. 3:16-17 - Jesus is being baptized, the Father speaks from heaven, the Holy spirit comes in the form of a dove.
John 14: 23 - The Father and the Son will visit you if you keep his word
John 14:26 - The role of the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) is to teach the words of the Son.

May God bless you in your quest for truth.

PuritanD71

April 30, 2012 at 03:07 PM

I would love to respond to every single point here. But notice, that you came in five days too late. Isn't it fun to go ahead and try to refute others after the fact?

I will just go to point two of your spiel where you misquote the person. That person was using "Mormon" terminology of being the "first begotten" - try again.

Special clothing is very funny. You are aware that protestants are allowed to remove their "special" clothing. It is a bit different for LDS.

You are trying to compare an apple to an orange and it fails. I am amazed at the willingness to abuse Scripture for your own purpose. You rail against the translation of "God" for Elohim and yet you want me to take you seriously about how literal you take the Bible. I am sorry but you cannot have it both ways.

PuritanD71

April 30, 2012 at 03:00 PM

Love this line of argument. Let us forget about context. Let us forget about the rules governing how one is to translate words. Throw it all away.

Poqui - your problem is that context is what governs how a word is used and translated. I find it odd that even the "fixed" KJV of Smith's which is not used by Mormons does not contain these "corrections". Nonetheless, your argument does not hold water.

Deut. 6:4 is a good place to start regarding CONTEXT.

Poqui

April 30, 2012 at 02:58 PM

1. "...there is the idea that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers..."
A. Is God not the Father of us all? How else did Satan come into existence? Is there a devil-maker somewhere? In the story of Job we read that all the sons of God came to report to Him one day, among which was Lucifer (Job 1:6)

2. "...and Lucifer is angry because Jesus was chosen to be the first begotten..."
A. Using your terminology of First Begotten, was there a second begotten? or a third begotten? There is something there that the Bible only gives hints to. In Revelation 12:7 we read of a "war in heaven." What was the war about? Why was Lucifer cast out?

3. "Then there is that whole American Indians are the lost tribe of Israel thing."
A. So close, but not cigar. The Book of Mormon is the history of one group of Israelites that was brought to the American continent, and they were all destroyed in a final battle. They are not "the whole American Indians." But some of the ones who remained mixed in with the millions of others who were already here.

4. "Let's not forget the special underwear..."
A. Many religions use an article of clothing to remind them of the covenants they have made with God, the Jewish yarmulke and fringes, the priestly robes of Christianity, the white collar of Presbyterianism, etc. So this falls in line with other religious beliefs.

5. "...or the baptism of the dead..."
A. Also practiced by many Christian churches prior to the Roman empire's attempt to unify all of the different beliefs. Hence why Paul makes reference to it in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:29)

6. "The truth of the bible can stand up to scrutiny. The book of Mormon cannot."
A. If the truth of the Bible stood up to scrutiny then it wouldn't have so many critics. Neither book can produce the original manuscripts so we are left to trust that what we have is a true book.

7. "We have nothing to fear from the blind."
A. So now Mormons are blind? Hmm, okay. It's just an amazing coincidence how activity and involvement in the Mormon Church is relational to the level of education of the members while the converse is true of Evangelicals. The more educated the Evangelical, the less likely he is to continue to believe. That should give you food for thought.

Poqui

April 30, 2012 at 02:40 PM

Good counsel Jugulum. It reminds me of what Gamaliel told the Jews in Jerusalem regarding the ministry of the Apostles (see Acts 5:38-39):

" 38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

" 39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."

Poqui

April 30, 2012 at 02:35 PM

The word "Elohim" is found in the Hebrew Bible over 2,000 times. It is the plural form of El. It literally means "Gods", as in many. Read the first chapter of the Bible and insert Gods or The Gods every time you see the word "God" because that's what's in the original text. Notice also the usage of "Let US make man in OUR image..." The fact that the Head of the Gods is called Elohim is in the Christian Bible.

Poqui

April 30, 2012 at 02:30 PM

Jesus left a litany of things one MUST DO in order to be saved. To confuse Pauline writings to the Jews who were relying on the Law of Moses to save them as being superior to Jesus' commandments is not being fair to the context of the scriptures. Jesus taught:
1. Have faith in Him
2. Repent of your sins
3. Be baptized by water by one who has the authority
4. Be baptized by the Spirit by one who has the authority
5. Do good to others
6. Be a good citizen
7. Protect children
8. Pray always
Etc...
But knowing that none of that would get you to heaven, He stepped in an atoned for all mankind so that we may return to our Father's House through Jesus Christ. This is exactly the doctrine taught by Mormons.

In the Book of Mormon you read:
"7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.
8 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives."

Jerry

April 29, 2012 at 12:11 AM

Having ministered in Southern Utah since 1996,I realized the definition of words was very important. A member of our church who heads up Truth Seekers Outreach and I put together a small book titled "Words We Share." It compares the definitions of common terms from the LDS sources and the Biblical Christian definition for the same word. Contact me and I will provide ordering information for you. The cost is 12.99 plus shipping in the US.

Timothy Unrine

April 29, 2012 at 10:03 PM

The Mormon Christ reminds me of modern day identity theft.

Just because someone takes over someone's identifty, that doesn't make that person really them, they are still an imposter who has stolen one's identity.

Mormons, while believing, mistakenly, that the Mormon Christ is the same as the Christian Christ; they will find out that the Mormons only stolen Christ's identity.

So worshipping a fake Mormon Christ, does not equal worshipping the true Christian Christ.

Identity thieves are eventually caught, and all who had business dealings with the fake one, will soon find that they have been lied to.

[...] Pilgrims JourneyMormons, Christians, LifeEmail [...]

baguioboy

April 29, 2012 at 07:35 PM

I believe that this article ignores the core of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints), which is our beliefs about Jesus Christ. As a Mormon, I believe that Jesus in my Savior, God and King. He is my Redeemer and I love Him. I cannot be saved without Him. Indeed, I believe that all good things come from and through Him.

I did not see many quotes in this article from official sources that the LDS Church uses, and I think that is why the emphasis on our beliefs about Christ has been lost. I invite you to visit lds.org (which is producing some Bible videos on the life of Christ--we just watched the parable of the Good Samaritin for family night) or mormon.org to see what we believe.

[...] Coalition: The FAQs –  Are Mormons Christian?  “Are Mormons Christian?” Since the 1820s, when Joseph Smith founded the religious [...]

[...] Coalition: The FAQs –  Are Mormons Christian?  “Are Mormons Christian?” Since the 1820s, when Joseph Smith founded the religious [...]

[...] Coalition: The FAQs –  Are Mormons Christian?  “Are Mormons Christian?” Since the 1820s, when Joseph Smith founded the religious [...]

[...] Coalition: The FAQs –  Are Mormons Christian?  “Are Mormons Christian?” Since the 1820s, when Joseph Smith founded the religious [...]

Aaron

April 28, 2012 at 11:48 PM

Great point David!

Links I Like « My World

April 28, 2012 at 11:35 AM

[...] Are Mormons Christians? [...]

Sharyl

April 28, 2012 at 07:21 AM

Brandon,

Thanks! I discovered that article after I posted my comment.
I sent a message to the Admin asking that they delete it
Thanks again.

[...] One is form the Gospel Coalition here, explaining some of the differences between Christianity and Mormonism http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/04/24/the-faqs-are-mormons-christian/?comments#comments [...]

Kevin

April 27, 2012 at 09:25 AM

Well Princess as you read the new testament you will find that Jesus was very intentional about fulfilling the prophecies of the Old testament. I would like to encourage you to read Psalm 22. God is not the author of confusion.

Are Mormons Christians? « Diligent Soul

April 27, 2012 at 09:06 AM

[...] Joe Carter at The Gospel Coalition has a helpful summary to this question and others like it. Here is his conclusion: Are Mormons Christian? No. On many key points Mormon beliefs are antithetical to historic Christian orthodoxy. However noble the intentions for wanting to include them as “brothers and sisters in Christ,” we do violence to the historical understanding of the term “Christian” by expanding it to mean those who have rejected orthodox Christian beliefs for a nineteenth-century heretical theology. [...]

Brandon E

April 27, 2012 at 08:21 PM

Hi Sharyl. That quote by Kevin DeYoung is him describing the LDS view. He is not describing his view or what he believes is in the Bible. Hope that helps.

Sharyl

April 27, 2012 at 08:06 PM

Thank you so much for this article. I was born into a Catholic home and believed many traditions that were taught to me as I grew up. The traditions that I was taught, I thought, were from the Bible. I didn't know that it was tradition or an interpretation of the Catholic faith. It wasn't until I was in my late 20's that my neighbor started to share with me the Truth of the Bible and the lies of the Catholic faith. I say all this because it is my prayer that if we, as Christ followers, were to lovingly tell the Mormons we are doing life with they might repent and be reconciled to God through Christ Jesus. Mormons are being deceived by Satan and it breaks my heart to read an article like this realizing just how deceived they actually are.

[...] Are Mormons Christian?  Joe Carter has taken the time to answer a few important questions that distinguish Christians and Mormons.  Since public religious figures (I don’t want to use the word pastor) like Joel Osteen have dropped the ball on rightly answering this question, we need to be better equipped to offer insight into what Mormon’s believe–after all, in a few months our country will probably be voting for or against a Mormon.  So here is a fast and friendly guide to understanding some of the main teachings about Mormons, and the false views they hold.  I would encourage you to print this out and keep it near the front door for the next time they come by. [...]

Timothy Unrine

April 26, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Very well written, not too lengthy, so I hope more people will read it to understand that Mormons can not be Christian.

There is a big push within the Mormon cult to be accepted as Christians; Joel Osteen is a motivational speaker, not a pastor - just calling yourself a Pastor doesn't make it so - he never says anything which might keep on twenty dollar bill out of the collection box.

Liberty University violating it's ethics by having someone who doesn't sustain the Trinity, isn't helping.

These are just two examples showing that Mormon Propaganda is working, they WANT to be Christians, so Mitt can be more electable.

paul cummings

April 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM

"Under the Banner of heaven" by Krakauer is also a great read from someone outside the faith who took a hard journalistic look at the fallacious beginnings of the church and how it's original (but swept under the rug) theology works itself out in real life.

Jugulum

April 26, 2012 at 12:34 PM

By the way, the Joseph Smith quote comes from this source:
Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Press, 1938), pp. 345-346., LDSCL

I got the quote second-hand, in this series that respectfully goes through official LDS teachings, to establish Mormon doctrine based on official sources. (And the author does an excellent job of distinguishing between official sources and non-official sources.)
http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=5065

I hope you'll give it a chance, even if you dislike the ministry that wrote it. It's citing official LDS sources, so it should still be very useful to you. (Perhaps none of it will be news to you--but perhaps it will call things to your attention that you hadn't noticed before.)

Jugulum

April 26, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Francis, have you read Joseph Smith's "King Follet Discourse"? There's two relevant parts of a particular paragraph--Joseph Smith's teaching conflicts with what you're saying about God and the Gospel.

You're right about the speculation that God "was once perhaps a sinner"--that's just people speculating. But it's wrong to say that the LDS teaching is that God "is the same now as he has always been". Perhaps they do teach that--and they only mean that he was never a sinner (but rather, like Jesus, was a perfect man.) If that's all you mean, OK. But Smith refuted the idea that God has always been God. And that's a major change. That's not being "the same now as he has always been" in general.

Smith said:
"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."

OK, so God has not always been God. Then Smith continues and says something about the Gospel:

"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; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible. [italics in original]"

According to Joseph Smith, it is the first principle of the Gospel to know, among other things, that the Father was once a man like us. That's something you left out of your confession of faith that "we all can agree on", because obviously we don't--yet your prophet called it the first principle of the Gospel. We Protestants vehemently deny what is, according to your religion, the first principle of the Gospel. (We consider it blasphemous.)

And this is important: We actually don't even agree on the things you said we do. In your statement, you said one thing that actually denied the gospel, as we understand it. (And I'm not making this up to win a rhetorical point. This was the single biggest issue that led to the Reformation.)

Namely, you said, "We are saved from an eternity of suffering by doing all we can do to be like him and by his grace. [emphasis added]"

Francis, we're not saved by doing all we can to be like him. Pursuing good works is part of following Christ, but it is the result of our salvation, not the basis. Paul laid that out specifically in Ephesians 2:8-10--that we're not saved as a result of works, but by grace through faith. He then says that the good works are what God created us for, but he specifically denies that our salvation is (even in part) the result of those works. (Not even grace-enabled works.) Yes, the absence of any fruit does prove that we don't know Christ, and yes, we show our faith by our works--but those works are the result of salvation, not part of its cause. (Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves isn't alone.) That's why Jesus could say John 3:16 the way he did: Those who believe will be saved.

Francis, as we see it, that's a very big difference between us. You might not think this is a very important disagreement, but for us, this led to the Reformation. In Galatians, the issues of faith & works in salvation led Paul to talk about "another gospel", and people being cut off from Christ. (You'll be able to find Protestants who actually don't care about this, but I'm sure we can also find Mormons who don't prioritize what Joseph Smith called the "first principle of the Gospel", either.)

We can't gloss over these two differences and pretend that we're working toward the same goal. Even in your attempt to identify what we all agree on, you denied the gospel as we understand it.

Arthur Sido

April 26, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Francis, the issue is not whether you can type the words "Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior". The deeper question has to do with who Jesus is. Is He a created being and the brother of Satan (as asserted in the Gospel Principles book I received when a member of the mormon church)? Or is he eternally God, uncreated and along with the other two members of the Trinity unique? Where mormonism goes wrong is in the most basic question, the question that Jesus asked Peter: Who do you say that I am?

Aaron's video is not intended as the ultimate answer but a sampling of the necessary results of a mindset that reduces God to an exalted man. If you truly believe in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Bible, I call on you to come out from among the mormons and to publicly reject what they teach as I and countless others have done. You will find the life of a disciple of Christ much different than being the follower of a "prophet" but infinitely and eternally worth it.

[...] Osteen is dead wrong on calling Mormons “brothers in Christ.” This is false teaching because it confuses the [...]

Timothy Unrine

April 26, 2012 at 10:37 PM

If Mormons want to hijack the Christian Christ, and have a propaganda campaign to be accepted as Christians, then it is every Christian's duty to correct, rebuke and encourage.

If Mormons want to dance naked around Scooby Doo in their Temple, that is fine, but when they cross the line and say they are Christians, it demands a response, 2 Tim 4:2-5, Gal 1:6-9.

If Mormons want to be Christian, the steps are relatively easy, renounce the Book of Mormon and the false utah prophet, accept the true Christ as their Lord and Savior, repent of their sins, and any New Testament based Christian church would welcome a former, repentant Mormon back into Christ's fold.

REBUKE: sharply expressing disapproval- - a specific scripture which tells Christians exactly what to do; which overrides the general scripture of not judging.

Not Judging rules in all situations, unless the scriptures command you to do otherwise - in this case - rebuke false gospels.

Church Chair Guy

April 26, 2012 at 10:06 AM

I really appreciate this article. With the growth of Mormonism today, there are so many building projects taking place within their faith. As a result, we have been approached many times about extending the "at-cost" ministry for church furnishings to their "temples". So far we have declined and this will only affirm that stance.

David Zook

April 26, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Hi Ryan:

I based my comparison on two things:

1) While I was at TEDS, Harold Netland's brother-in-law (I believe) gave a lecture or two about the LDS and how to interact with them. At the time, his church in the Salt Lake area was about 10 years old and beginning to gain significant traction. His lectures and Q & A's were extraordinarily helpful and he did make the comment that they he admired the way they did the "one-anothers". He said that if orthodox Christians would be as committed to doing the "one-anothers" as the LDS did them our communities would be better.

2) Living in Phoenix, a LDS saturated area, I have observed this first hand. It seems like they have reversed the 80/20 rule. Normally, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I have noticed that 80% of them do 80% of the work. More of them really work out their "salvation" than do orthodox Christians. This leads to a tighter, more loving, and more distinct community.

Harold's brother-in-law's advice to me to win the LDS or those heavily influenced by the LDS, is to out do them and out live them through the power of the Holy Spirit fueled by the Father's grace.

Francis

April 26, 2012 at 09:12 AM

Actually they don't teach that he was once a mortal man, what is taught is that he has a body of flesh and bone; hence we were made in his image. It’s possible Latter-Day Saints don't "officially teach" that he was not a sinner because they do teach that he is the same now as he has always been. Just because a few people who wanted to inject their own ideas into a subject doesn't mean that is what they are taught. I am a member of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have never once EVER been taught that God has ever been mortal much less a sinner. ALL my instruction has always said he is the same now as he has always been, PERFECT and because of that perfection he cannot sin, and has had no need for a mortal probation. Us coming to earth was his gift to us, his children, so that one day if we are worthy (and with a lot of help from Christ and his atoning sacrifice) we can inherit all that he has.
I find it severely upsetting myself that others in my religion believe that my Father in Heaven could ever have sinned. I am also upset that the entire world seems to base their view of my religion of the actions and personal beliefs of a few, instead of researching and gaining an understanding for themselves of what we truly believe and are taught. Not to be converted, or to take anything away from any other religion or belief system, but just to be able to speak intelligently on the subject.
We all have some differences in our beliefs, doctrine, faith, dogma whatever you prefer to call it. All of us claim to have the Lord’s true gospel. If you can’t say that about your church, religion, beliefs then maybe you need to re-evaluate your own system. I PERSONALLY believe that there is one thing we all can agree on. That is:
Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. He lived a perfect life in order to pay the price for our sins. We are saved from an eternity of suffering by doing all we can do to be like him and by his grace. We will all fall short of perfection, and no unclean or imperfect thing can dwell in the presence of God the Father. Jesus Christ will be our advocate and if we repent of our sins he will stand by our side at our judgment and when we fall short if we have in this life, he will stand up for us and say “I have already paid the price for that, so justice is satisfied.” After justice is satisfied we will be allowed to enter again into the presence of our Heavenly Father, and dwell in the place our Lord and Savior has prepared for us.
Is that a Christian? If not in your eyes then I don’t need to be your type of Christian. Because in my heart I know as long as I do my best, repent and endure to the end continually My Lord and Savior will not stand to have me forsaken no matter what religion I or you choose you do the best with the teachings you have and that’s all that can be asked of you.
We all have the responsibility as Christians to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Yes, that means we are all working to the same goal. And I understand we don’t agree on everything but if we take a lesson from our church leaders and have tolerance and understanding we can get along.

AStev

April 26, 2012 at 08:25 AM

Also, we should be cautious when we speak of human free agency. We do have agency (and thus, responsibility for our actions), but the Bible is quite clear that when we were unbelievers, we were actually enslaved to sin. We did not have "free will", technically speaking, since our will was subservient to our sinful nature.

Since we were inclined by nature to prefer sin, we constantly willed to sin, and it was impossible for us to will otherwise. Even our "good" acts were done out of sinful, self-serving motives.

Even now that we are a new creation, we find that we constantly sin, and do things that we don't want to do, looking forward to that day when we will finally receive our inheritance as children of God and be freed not only from the penalty and power of sin, but from its presence altogether!

AStev

April 26, 2012 at 08:16 AM

Agreed - it would be helpful to know what Mormon soteriology looks like. If they believe God was once a human just like us, from where does he derive authority to save? Do Mormons believe any one of us has potential to wield this same authority?

[...] The FAQs: Are Mormons Christian? by The Gospel Coalition http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/04/24/the-faqs-are-mormons-christian/ [...]

Tom

April 26, 2012 at 07:50 AM

A great resource to check out is utlm.org - Utah Lighthouse Ministry. Started by Sandra (a great-great granddaughter of Brigham Young) and Jerald Tanner. It is a dense resource library of everything Mormonism from their own writings and history.

Michael R. Collings

April 26, 2012 at 07:34 PM

Here are some additional thoughts on the issue, which all too often is treated as far simpler than it actually is: http://michaelrcollings.blogspot.com/2011/10/mormonism-cult-or-christian.html

Dave Miller

April 26, 2012 at 07:30 AM

It's not about being mean or nice. Those are relative terms.

It's about speaking the truth in love.

The most hateful thing that a Christian could do is to be silent and allow the Mormons to do whatever they want - to continue in their ways and beliefs that will not lead to salvation.

A loving thing to do is for Christians to tell them about the One, True Jesus Christ of the Bible and how He is the only way to reconciliation with God. It's not about works; it's about the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth.

Dave Miller

April 26, 2012 at 07:12 AM

Osteen is right. They are *his* brothers in christ. Just not the Christ that was and is Jesus of Nazareth.

Both worship false gods, is there any wonder why there is concord between them?

Brandon E

April 26, 2012 at 06:47 PM

Hi Francis.

Are you saying that the LDS doesn’t officially teach that God the Father was not always God but was once a man named Elohim who later became God? How many LDS meetings I have or haven’t attended is irrelevant to the fact if people who were raised in the LDS would tell you the same thing. If the LDS teaches that God the Father was not always God but had to like us progress unto godhood, then clearly he was not always exactly the same as he is now. At most he could be the same in some ways but not the same in all that it means to be a god, but LDS theology doesn’t officially explain whether or not this could mean that God was perhaps once a sinner. Hence, you see members of the LDS freely opining that God was perhaps once a sinner. In the LDS it’s an open question, a matter of personal opinion, whereas in Christianity it is entirely out of the question, for God is the infinitely holy God from eternity to eternity.

Now concerning the gospel, Christians who affirm the the reforms of the reformation believe that we are justified by grace through faith. “But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). What saves us from the eternal penalty of sin is what Christ has accomplished once and for all for us on the cross--upon His merits and not our own or “how well” we cooperate. This is good news, because none of us is perfect, and in ourselves we are all ungodly sinners.

This doesn’t mean that “turn the other cheek" and "love thy neighbor" are mere suggestions.

Rather, it means that we aren’t condemned when we fail despite our best efforts while we are on the pathway to being conformed to the image of the Son (see Romans 8). Neither does it mean that we are not responsible for our actions, for at least two reasons.

First, we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of our lives and receive reward or loss of reward accordingly (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10-12).

Second, genuine, regenerated (“born again”) Christians have received the divine life of God in Christ through the Spirit, which causes us to love God and want to please Him. We feel peaceful and joyful when we love God and others. Deep down we feel miserable, uneasy and spiritually dry when we sin. In this way we are restricted in the Spirit away from the things of Satan, sin, the flesh, darkness and death and towards the things of God in Christ Jesus.

Concerning “deathbed repentance,” like Jugulum said, if a person has the attitude that they can live however they want and repent for it later, that is not true repentance. If a person has this kind of attitude until the end they are either not a Christian in the first place and will die in their sins, or they might be a Christian who is really out of touch with the Spirit and not solid in the truth, and they will have to face the Lord at His judgment seat concerning it and then will really repent. However, let’s say a person is truly repentant at end of their life. What would you say to that person? “Sorry, the kingdom is closed to you?” Is that what God’s heart is like?

Jugulum

April 26, 2012 at 05:39 PM

Francis,

To say the part about the nature of God another way:

If you're saying that in those "LDS meetings where we learn actual church doctrine", you were taught to affirm that "God was God from all eternity" (about which Joseph Smith said "I will refute that idea"), then that says something very significant about those meetings.

Jugulum

April 26, 2012 at 05:25 PM

Francis,

I also hope you won't change the subject about how:

(1) Joseph Smith said that it is the "first principle of the Gospel" to know that God wasn't always God, but rather became God.

(2) When you attempted to talk about what we all agree on, you actually said something that we regard as denying the Gospel.

Please, with that in mind, explain how you can say that we're working toward the same goal.

Jugulum

April 26, 2012 at 05:22 PM

Francis,

Three things.

1.) You didn't say try to say that believe basically the same thing about this. Does that mean you recognize that this difference really matters?

2.) I know that I wrote a long comment. But if you actually read it, and replied this way, then you're being dishonest. And if you didn't read it (or do more than skim), then please say so.

I said, "Yes, the absence of any fruit does prove that we don't know Christ, and yes, we show our faith by our works--but those works are the result of salvation, not part of its cause."

I said that trying to be like Christ reflects our salvation, but doesn't cause it. And if it's missing, then we're not saved.

There's no way you can turn that into "all that stuff is a suggestion".

3.) You're being hypocritical (or perhaps "inconsistent") when you bring up last-minute conversions, because you have to answer the same question yourself.

If someone tries to "put off repentance" till the last second, then I would say that their repentance is almost certainly false. We can't pretend that we're genuinely repentant of our sin if our last-minute "repentance" was a planned delay to let us go on with it till the end. In that case, we're just mouthing the words.

Unless of course we experience a real change of heart at the end--different from the one we planned. The kind of change where, if you end up not dying after all, you will show the fruit of seeking to follow God's will. In that case, they're becoming a sincere Christian for the first time, in a way that goes beyond their planned in-name-only "repentance".

And I'm pretty sure that you would admit that someone can become a sincere Mormon at the end of their life, even if they turn out not to have any time to be "doing all we can do to be like him".

Brandon E.

April 26, 2012 at 05:13 PM

Hi SirBrass. Did James White actually say "separate" persons?

Francis

April 26, 2012 at 04:55 PM

Yes clearly, because i'm sure you have attened so many LDS meetings where we learn actual church doctrine. what I am hearing many of you say who are telling me that it's by grace alone that we are saved is, do what you want, repent... especially before you die and everything will be fine. so all that "turn the other cheek" and "love thy neighbor" is just a suggestion? you don't actually have to do it because you can repent at the last minute and be recieved into our Father's Kingdom?

SirBrass

April 26, 2012 at 03:13 PM

For those who were struggling to help the young lady understand the trinity, I'll quote Dr. White again (who also wrote a good, layman-targeted book on the Trinity called "The Forgotten Trinity"), where, in giving a concise summation of the doctrine, says (I can't quote exactly verbatim, but very close to it):

"Within the one being who is God, there exists 3 separate co-equal, co-eternal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

Brandon E

April 26, 2012 at 03:01 PM

Hi Francis. To me it appears that you want to believe that God is actually the same now as he has always been. But clearly the LDS officially teaches that God was not always God but once a man like us who later became God. Think about it.

sarah

April 26, 2012 at 02:08 PM

I guess I would ask Joel Osteen, 'Which Christ do you want to refer to when you say 'brothers in Christ'? The orthodox, historical Jesus that those of the Christian faith believe in - the unique Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, very God of very God, begotten, not made... that Jesus? Or the Jesus who became a 'god' and is the spirit-brother of Lucifer? Which Christ?'

What would he say in reply, I wonder?

Allen Burns

April 26, 2012 at 01:47 PM

Joe, thanks for the timely post.
Will you be doing a follow-up on why we should not be having a Mormon speak at the commencement address of a Christian University?

SirBrass

April 25, 2012 at 12:45 PM

For a more in-depth look at Mormonism, I'm surprised TGC didn't recommend Dr. James R. White (aomin.org) as a resource, considering that AOMin was founded originally as an outreach to the mormons, and he's been one of the best apologists to the mormons (though, Praise the Lord, not the sole orthodox voice) in recent decades.

Ryan

April 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM

I'm curious- what do you base your comparison on? How do you know that LDS does better community than orthodox Christianity? That's alarming if it is true, but how do you come to that conclusion?

Melody

April 25, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Well let's see there is the idea that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers and Lucifer is angry because Jesus was chosen to be the first begotten.
Then there is that whole American Indians are the lost tribe of Israel thing.
Let's not forget the special underwear or the baptism of the dead. For starters........

The truth of the bible can stand up to scrutiny. The book of Mormon cannot. We have nothing to fear from the blind.

Brandon E

April 25, 2012 at 11:47 PM

Francis, my understanding is that the LDS does officially teach that "God the Father" was once a mortal man named Elohim who later became "God." And if "God the Father" was once a mortal man like us who had to progress unto godhood the question naturally arises if he was once a sinner like us.

Orthodox Christians instinctively find the suggestion absurd and really quite blasphemous, and the answer is obvious, for it strikes at the very heart of worship of God who is unspeakable holiness itself from eternity to eternity. In contrast, the video shows that this impulse is missing in much of LDS membership. Within the LDS "was God the Father once perhaps a sinner?" is apparently an open question and matter of personal opinion because there is no "official teaching."

Jugulum

April 25, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Ty: I think we would do better not to introduce the idea of "wackiness" into the discussion of whether or not Mormons are Christian, not even in passing. We judge wackiness based on our own worldview--not on logical coherence or on some kind of objective standard.

Orthodox Christian ideas may seem equally wacky to non-Christians of various kinds. Since it doesn't have a place in judging truth, why even bring it up?

Bryce

April 25, 2012 at 11:36 AM

You make a good point about the way they live. However a couple reports have recently come out indicating that the rate of growth of the LDS church has been vastly exaggerated. Google "why Mormons leave."

Matt Smethurst

April 25, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Thanks for this, Joe.

Tom

April 25, 2012 at 11:06 AM

As someone who lives in the 'mecca of mormonism'-Utah, I would affirm this articles conclusion.
They may believe in 'Jesus', but Mormons absolutely do not believe in the Biblical Jesus. They may believe in grace, but it's defined differently. 2 Nephi 25:23 says, "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."
To be a "christian" isn't believe that "God is one (monotheism)" or believe in a person named 'Jesus'. It's to believe in the biblical gospel taught by the biblical Jesus and to be His lifelong disciple.

David Zook

April 25, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Using a football metaphor,their theology is wide right, but as a whole they do better community, missions, evangelism, family, stewardship, and have better personal conduct than orthodox Christians. This is why their message is so compelling and so confusing when people claim that the LDS are not Christians. They are living their lives as orthodox Christians should live their lives. Maybe this is why they are growing at a reported rate of 40% annually. As a high ranking local LDS friend of mine reminds me, "We baptize more baptists in a week, than the baptist baptize."

It seems to me we could learn a great deal from the LDS minus their theology.

Francis

April 25, 2012 at 10:46 PM

What i saw on the video was a bunch of people's opinions, a bunch of LDS members who said "I guess it's possible" not something to the effect of what we have always been taught. i saw no official LDS church doctrine. Officially, as I understand it the LDS church teaches that God is as he always has and always will be. The Eternal Father. because he is perfect he never has nor will he ever be wrong or commit sin. you video enough people in that type of setting long enough you will always get enough misinformed or misguided people passing out more misinformation. look at all the epistles Paul had to write to in his day. some people in all religions have it wrong. does that mean that everyone has it wrong?

Heather E. Carrillo

April 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM

This was a helpful read. Thank you.

Ty

April 25, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Three words, well maybe four or five:

The Planet Kolob.

The star closest to the residence of god according to Joseph Smith. ( small g. I cannot capitalize their god. )

Because of our media people won't know the extent of the wacky stuff they believe. Thanks for choosing Joel Osteen to defend the Christian faith CNN. Well played.

Reggie Osborne

April 25, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Thanks for the post, and I'm thankful for TGC interest in the issue at hand.

[...] unlike Osteen, actually understands and teaches the basic tenets of the Christian faith, check out this resource from Joe Carter and this one from Kevin [...]

[...] The FAQs: Are Mormons Christian? [...]

Brandon E

April 25, 2012 at 08:11 PM

Hi Aaron, good resource. I agree. That God once being a sinner like us is a possibility or open question in the LDS worldview reveals how estranged the LDS orientation toward God is from God as revealed in Scripture.

Melody

April 25, 2012 at 07:50 PM

Because it is a question of where one spends eternity, that is why. If you know the truth then why wouldn't you tell someone of the danger?

Ian Smith

April 25, 2012 at 07:17 PM

Princess,

When Jesus says, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?" He is quoting the first line of Psalm 22--a psalm about him being crucified. He is essentially saying, "look, you did just what would be prophesied would be done to me."

Good article on this at ChristianityToday this month:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/aprilweb-only/my-god-forsaken-me.html

Brandon E

April 25, 2012 at 07:12 PM

Because the Son, standing in the position of a man, was quoting the prophetic Psalm 22:1 to describe what it felt like to bear and experience the full weight and consequences of our sins in our stead. In that moment on the cross He was taking the place of sinners (1 Pet. 3:18), bearing our sins (1 Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53:6) and was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), and He was describing what that felt like in fulfillment of the prophesy.

It wasn’t that the Father somehow actually split with the Son any more than the Son literally couldn’t comprehend why He was being temporarily “forsaken.”

I agree that the Father and Son are of the same mind. I’m saying that, even more, the Trinity means that the Father, Son and Spirit are distinct but not separate because they indwell one another. Hence, although the Father, Son, and Spirit are distinct, we are not saying that the three are separate individuals or that 3 individuals equals 1 individual.

[...] a Christian and sees Mormons as brothers in Christ. In response to that, Joe Carter from TGC posted a response that addresses the issues that are relevant to the question of whether Mormons can be considered [...]

Princess

April 25, 2012 at 06:27 PM

So, if they can not be separate... why would Christ say "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
It makes sense they are of the same mind... being perfect they would have to be of the same mind since there is no better than perfection there is no other options but the perfect one.

Brandon E

April 25, 2012 at 06:15 PM

Hi Princess,

The biblical revelation is that the Father, Son and Spirit are in fact distinct but never separate. It’s not that the three are three separate beings who happen to be like-minded and to act in union. The three eternally co-exist within one another (John 14:10-11) such that the three are intrinsically inseparable. You cannot get the presence of one member without the other two. This is a great mystery because there is not a perfect analog in the physical universe. However, it is possible with God because the nature of God is spirit (John 4:24).

So it’s not that we’re saying that 3 individuals equals 1 individual. By “individual” we typically mean a separate person, which is not an accurate description of who or what Father, the Son or the Spirit is. Three separate persons would mean three separate “Gods.” This would be tri-theism but not the Divinity Trinity. We use the word "persons" to describe the distinctions between the Father, Son and Spirit, because we have no better word in English to describe the three, but by "persons" we do not mean separate persons.

Does that help a bit?

Leon Blue

April 25, 2012 at 06:09 PM

why are you so mean to mormons? There are many good mormons and many bad christians. and why insult the mormon's LSD temple? If they want to trip on LSD, that is their business, if they stay in the temple and are not harming anybody, what is the big deal?

Bible | Pearltrees

April 25, 2012 at 05:48 AM

[...] Mormons claim that God the Father was once a man and that he then progressed to godhood (that is, he is a now-exalted, immortal man with a flesh-and-bone body). (1 - ESV Study Bible article on religious cults) According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Doctrine and Covenants , "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also;" but "The Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit." What do Mormons believe about God? As Kevin DeYoung says, The FAQs: Are Mormons Christian? – The Gospel Coalition Blog [...]

Brandon E

April 25, 2012 at 05:16 AM

Good post. I agree with its conclusions.

I wonder how many Christians who would say that Mormons are Christians have a basic understanding of what the LDS actually teaches.

David French in his blog post makes much ado about not making creedal confessions of the Trinity a sticking point, but seems entirely unaware that LDS theology even rejects basic monotheism--belief in one self-existing, eternal, personal, transcendent, creator God.

By teaching that “God the Father” is a man named Elohim who became “God” in time, and that the Father, Son and Spirit are actually three separate beings (the Father and the Son possessing separate bodies), the LDS rejects the clear testimony of Scripture that there is one true God who is God from eternity to eternity, which all Christians affirm without disagreement. And yet it claims to be restored, apostolic Christianity.

Van Berean

April 25, 2012 at 04:58 AM

Well Done Joe,

Good revelations there.

Yet to be more simple and concise- I tell my young students that, "Mormons are not Christian because they do not place their faith in the finished work of Christ alone".

Something that Methodists often do :)

Heather E. Carrillo

April 25, 2012 at 04:23 PM

Yes, I think that's fair...though, I'd reiterate that you should probably stop trying to think of it mathematically or you will continue to confuse yourself. (That is...more so than usual for a person thinking about the Trinity :-)

Princess

April 25, 2012 at 04:20 PM

Okay so 3 individuals 1 godhead made of those 3 individuals. all living in past present and future, therefore knowing all, yet still giving us our free agency instead of fate or whatever you call it. in that case 3 does = 1. All 3 having the knowledge and like-mindedness to act in unison?

Aaron

April 25, 2012 at 04:00 PM

If anyone has any doubt over whether Mormonism is Christian, see the video interviews for yourself at GodNeverSinned.com, where Mormons affirm their belief that God was once perhaps a sinner.

Heather E. Carrillo

April 25, 2012 at 03:43 PM

Well @Princess, you've asked a question that hundreds of essays and papers and books have been written on, and a couple of church counsels have met over. So, I'm not sure anyone could explain it to you in a blog comment.

Mathematically 3 doesn't equal 1, so try to not associate mathematics and this particular theological concept.

The bible doesn't actually mention "the trinity." It's a concept that the church put a name to. The bible does mention that there is one God. It also says the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God. We believe that the bible does not contradict itself so these statements must all work together. A lot of theologians will say He is three persons with one essence. If you are finding that hard to grasp, it's because it is. Perhaps this is a case of our knowledge not being quite....God-like.

A couple of analogies have been tried out to compare what the trinity is "like" although they all fall incredibly short. I'm going to present a few and not say I agree with any of them, but just for a little help perhaps. (A note to my fellow believers: I didn't make them up, and forgive me if I present something really off. Feel free to correct it) It has been compared to the three heads of Cerberus. Each head may have a different task and even a different name, but they are all Cerberus. (The problem here is that each head has a different brain and they could thus disagree...all analogies will definitely break down) Another one is using the dimensions of space: length, width, and height. All occur at once and make up "space" but are distinct.

Does that help at all? Again, it's a paltry explanation seeing as older and wiser people than me have spent so much time studying and writing about this very thing.

laura grace

April 25, 2012 at 03:37 PM

3 does not = 1, and I think you'll find no one is saying that 3=1. It's helpful in conversations like these not to make straw men or rephrase people's arguments simplistically. The Christian church has always said that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That's not three gods, and it's not one god in three forms or manifestations.

The language of the Trinity is formulated the way it is for a reason -- because it condenses the clear teaching of Scripture that there is only one true and living God, AND that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equally God. They are not each other. Father is not Son, Son is not Spirit, Spirit is not Father. There IS a differentiation, it's just not a difference in nature, nor a separation.

It's a huge topic, and we could talk about it all day, but if you're curious, do read some of the stuff that's been mentioned above. :)

Jugulum

April 25, 2012 at 03:36 PM

Well, as a start of an answer, notice that I didn't say 3 = 1. I said "3 who's" = "1 what". (If I said "There are three Gods, but they're also only one God," then that would be self-contradictory.)

I only call that a "start" of an answer, because I can't claim that I understand it in a "Oh sure, no problem" way. It's not easily understandable--but it's not a contradiction, either.

And I don't expect for everything about God to be easily understandable. Honestly, if everything that the Bible says about God was easy to understand, that would be a strong hint that it had been made up. I would be shocked if there was nothing about God that made us go "huh?".

Really, I hope you'll get The Forgotten Trinity. It's a pretty easy read, and very helpful.

Stan McCullars

April 25, 2012 at 03:28 PM

I recommend you read Calvin (in The Institutes) on the Trinity. He does an excellent job answering the question you have raised.

Princess

April 25, 2012 at 03:19 PM

I guess that's the confusion. I understand 3 idividual beings I could understand one individual god. I don't see how 3 = 1 works. Spirit of God = Holy Spirit, Son of God = Jesus Christ, and God = God the Father... seems to be a difirentiation to me. please explain how 3 = 1.

paul cummings

April 25, 2012 at 02:59 PM

Princess...
there are several OT references that help with your questions...Christ is fulfilling both the prophetic words of Psalm 22 which encapsulates the scene at Golgotha centuries before it happens and then also Isaiah 53 where the Messianic Suffering Servant is commissioned by God and also caused to be killed by God.

Jugulum

April 25, 2012 at 02:55 PM

Princess,

They're not the same "personage", no. That's actually exactly what we say the Bible teaches--that they are not the same person.

It sounds like you didn't realize that. You didn't actually know what the doctrine of the "Trinity" is. So, this is a perfect opportunity for you to find out. And I highly recommend the book "The Forgotten Trinity", by James White. It's a very good book for walking through the things the Bible says about God (and specifically the things that it says about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). The Bible doesn't use the word Trinity--that's just the label we use to talk about what the Bible does say: That there is one God. That the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Spirit is God. Yet the Father is not the Son, and the Father is not the Spirit, and the Son is not the Spirit. After all, they talk to each other, and have relationship with each other.

One way we put that is to say that God is one "what", but is three "who"s.

Princess

April 25, 2012 at 02:44 PM

I am confused. Reading in the Bible, Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
and
Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why would Christ say this unto himself? why say it out loud? why make all the reference to "my father" throughout the new testament? are they (God, Jesus Christ, and the holy spirit) the same personage or not?

SirBrass

April 25, 2012 at 02:35 PM

I was also thinking of his two books he wrote on the subject (and several of his other books can address arguments presented by Mormons as well, such as the corruption issue which he deals with in "The King James Only" controversy), "Letters to a Mormon Elder", and "Is The Mormon My Brother."

Anyway, I'm just glad he isn't a lone voice in presenting good material b/c what was presented by KDY via this FAQ is also dead-on target.

Ty

April 25, 2012 at 02:09 PM

Sorry Jugulum I call like I see it.

From the link, which is one of the better ones I've read:

------

In Summary
Official Mormon teaching is clear. God and man are of the same species. The difference between them is a matter of exaltation and progression over aeons of time. God was once a man, a mortal, just as we. He lived on another planet in a condition very similar to ours, and gained exaltation on the same principles that are made available to men today. The worthy Mormon man who is sealed for time and eternity to his wife in the LDS Temple, and who continues faithful to the end in obedience to gospel ordinances and principles, will be exalted, in due time, to the status of a God. He will have "eternal increase," beget spirit children, and be worshipped as the God and creator of other worlds. In those worlds he will raise up his spirit children so that they, too, might become exalted. This is the eternal law of progression, the concept of exaltation to godhood, and as we saw over and over again, in Mormonism, this is the gospel.

------

This is where I really don't want anything to do with Romney. Indeed, Mormon's believe this. The question that will never be asked nor ever answered is what is Romney's motivation in this life? Is it that he can be exalted to the point of godhood through his actions, politics, and so on?

Jon Pentecost

April 25, 2012 at 01:50 PM

Thanks, Joe. Although I think it would be helpful to add a section concerning means of salvation.

[...] read the whole article here. [...]

Jugulum

April 25, 2012 at 01:33 PM

Actually, the specific Mormonism 101 link that you posted is a good one to point out in particular.
http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=5065

It's an index of a series of posts that goes through Mormon sources to document their beliefs. It's very informative and helpful. Respectful, even.

Note: Even for those who dislike Dr. White's style due to "tone" issues, I doubt they'll raise any objections to this series.

Courtney

April 25, 2012 at 01:30 PM

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=45&chapid=

Jason

April 25, 2012 at 01:11 PM

Sorry, saw this after I had posted.

Jason

April 25, 2012 at 01:08 PM

Mormonism 101: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=5065