Are Mormons Christians? Yes and No.

Author’s Note: This is my contribution to the Patheos Blog round table on the question "Are Mormons Christian?"

Are Mormons Christians?

What makes one a Christian?

Is it believing in Jesus Christ?

If so, then what must one believe about who Christ is in order to be a Christian?

Mormons, as a group, do not believe in the tradition Trinity. Instead, we believe in a Godhead of three separate beings of one unified purpose. For many, this is a drastic difference. I am not sure if it the Mormon in me or the postmodern in me that does not see a significant difference between the two conceptions.

For most Mormons, the question of "Are Mormons Christians?" is a silly, if not irritating, one. We proclaim and sing of our belief in Christ. His name plays a prominent role in the official name of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi proclaimed:

And 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.

2 Nephi 25:26

Mormons tend to think that this should be sufficient enough of an answer. Maybe it is. But it clearly has not persuaded many. This does not mean that it is a bad answer, it just means that the response is not getting to the concern that leads to the question. Granted, not everyone is looking to have that concern resolved.

For the most part, I do not think it should really matter to Mormons whether others consider them to be Christians. Yet, as a proselytizing religion, Mormons are sensitive to such perceptions and feel a need to refute it.

Instead of being offended by the question or how people respond to it, I find it fascinating. Labels like "Christian" are informative and useful in my opinion. However, they can also be used as means of inclusion and exclusion. Language is a powerful force in that way.

I do not believe that God cares about correct belief. This is not Mormon apologetics, because there are Mormons who think that one must believe certain things to be a true Latter-day or a true Christian. While I see why human organizations might value correct belief, I cannot imagine that God does. God is already God. God does not want conformity with a set of correct answers, He wants conformity with His will.

What is God’s will? That is surely a complicated question and I am suspicious of people claiming to have special knowledge of God’s will. However, Jesus gave us some guidance during his earthly ministry.

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. ’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Matthew 22: 37-39 (NSRV)

I want to argue that to be Christian, we must be striving to love God and neighbor. We can do this in many ways and I think the content of that love is part of a larger discussion.

I struggle know what it means to love God. I think that is why we are invited to love our neighbor. It is through our relationships with other people that we can even start to conceptualize a relationship with God.

Loving God and neighbor is more that just "doing good." Instead it is a deep commitment highlighted by 1 Corinthians 13.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 (NSRV)

Being Mormon does not make anyone Christian. Neither does being Catholic, Protestant, or whatever else.

Why then be a Mormon (or a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)? Well it is because the LDS Church provides me the community which helps me exercise my love of God and my neighbor. Is it the best community? Is it the most true community? These are just silly questions. It is my community. That is why it matters to me. That is why I love it. It is mine.

To answer the question:

Are Mormons Christians? Yes and no.

I cannot and do not point to others as bad examples. I am sufficient bad example enough as it is. Pride is a danger to any and all groups and individuals.

Does this then mean that anyone can claim to be a Christian? Of course, anyone can claim to be a Christian. However, my point is that claiming to be a Christian is irrelevant. Proclaiming belief and proclaiming love are not all that different. Doing so does not constitute belief or love.

Mormons, like any other group of people, can sometimes be too comfortable in thinking that being a Latter-day Saint makes them sufficiently Christian. This is a dangerous trap. The label does not make you Christian, your heart makes you Christian.

Are Mormons trying to be Christian? Most are sincerely trying. They do love God and their neighbor. I have my disagreements and differences with Mormonism and Mormon culture, but I credit them with being Christian based on that love.

Can Mormons be un-Christian? Sure. Everyone is at times and Mormons sometimes struggle to show that love. But it is there. I have seen it. Even when I have witnessed others be judgmental, rarely is that judgmental tendency the defining characteristic in any person. And if see nothing but judgmental people around us…maybe they are not the ones being judgmental.

Life is a test. It is not a test where we repeat back to the teacher the correct theological or doctrinal answers. Instead, it is more life-long experiment. An experiment to see whether love of God and neighbor can grow in our hearts.

Love God. Love our neighbors. The rest will work itself out.

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About Chris Henrichsen

Chris Henrichsen has moved Approaching Justice off of Patheos. Find his latest posts and the new Approaching Justice. Thanks!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

    Chris: Thanks for the invitation.

    Your point seems to be that Christianity is clear in your actions, not the church you belong to. OK, that’s fair, but I don’t have much to say about that.

    I will admit that, as an atheist, it’s fun to see religious groups attack each other. So often that ire is aimed at me that it’s nice to sit on the sidelines for a change.

    My early vote had been that anyone can call himself whatever he wants. If a Mormon says that he’s a Christian, then sure, he’s a Christian.

    However, I must admit that the non-Mormons’ arguments make some sense. The Mormon isn’t a Christian in the sense of other Christians.

    All right, but then what about other sects? If we’re going to withhold labels, are JWs Christian? Are Christian Scientists?

    And what about the early interpretations of Christianity that are no longer in vogue today—the Ebionites, the Marcionites, the Gnostics? Were they Christian? They were radically incompatible with the view popular today.

    If these ancient Christianities are “Christian” (which I think most historians would agree to), you gotta call the Mormons Christian. No net cast widely enough to pull in the early flavors of Christianity will fail to bring in Mormonism as well.

    (As an aside, the Marcionites and Gnostics avoid the Problem of Evil by not positing that the creator of this world was the origin/father of Jesus. I don’t think that this can be said about Mormonism though, right?)

    Mormons, as a group, do not believe in the tradition Trinity. Instead, we believe in a Godhead of three separate beings of one unified purpose. For many, this is a drastic difference.

    As you might imagine, I find the idea of the Trinity indefensibly strange (more here). That’s a point in the Mormons’ favor.

    (Well, that was a ramble.)

  • bdlaacmm

    If Mormons are Christians, then so are Muslims. Both religions acknowledge Christ. Both reject the Trinity. Both believe that it is one’s actions that ultimately count. Both have either added to sacred scripture (the Mormons) or have replaced it entirely (the Muslims). Both have their own unique prophets (Smith or Mohammed), whom they claim supersede all previous ones. Both claim that Christianity was irredeemably corrupt and distorted until they came along.

    I could continue, but you get the idea. Are Mormons Christians? No way!

    Interesting side note: A few years ago, a western journalist asked a Syrian official “How many Christians are there in Syria?”, and the official responded “22 million” (the population of the country). He honestly considered all Muslims to be Christians, because Christ is a prophet in their religion.

    • S B

      In what sense do Muslims acknowledge Christ? I thought that they consider Him one prophet among many, not the Only Begotten Son of God.

      • bdlaacmm

        Being lazy this morning, I will answer by plagiarizing from Wikipedia. (Note, please, that I am definitely NOT a Muslim, but rather am a Catholic Christian. I am simply saying that the Mormons’ claim to be Christians is little different from that of the Muslims. But neither is correct, because the “Jesus” they acknowledge is a quite different Jesus from the Jesus recognized by Christianity.)

        From Wikipedia: In Islam, Jesus is considered to be a Messenger of God and the Messiah who was sent to guide the Children of Israel with the Gospel. Belief in Jesus is required in Islam. The Quran states that Jesus was born to Mary as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God. To aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (such as healing the blind, bringing dead people back to life, etc.), all by the permission of God rather than of his own power. According to the Quran, Jesus, although appearing to have been crucified, was not killed by crucifixion or by any other means, instead, “God raised him unto Himself”. Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God), as he preached that his followers should adopt the “straight path” as commanded by God. Islam rejects the Trinitarian Christian view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, that he was ever crucified or resurrected, or that he ever atoned for the sins of mankind. The Quran says that Jesus himself never claimed any of these things. The Quran emphasizes that Jesus was a mortal human being who had been divinely chosen to spread God’s message.

        • trytoseeitmyway

          Mormons, by contrast, believe that Jesus was and is God and that He is the Son of God. Mormons believe in the Godhead, a term that has the virtue of being used in the actual Bible.

        • S B

          A Muslim might find mistakes in Wikipedia, but it looks like what I’ve seen in Muslim sources. (If any Muslims read this and see that we’re misunderstanding your beliefs, I hope you’ll comment with better explanations!)

          As a Mormon, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of the Father, that He was miraculously conceived, that He performed miracles through His own grace, that He was crucified and died to atone for the sins of the world, that He was resurrected–literally raised from the dead–on the third day, and that He ascended into heaven.

          I love His teachings and learn about them by reading from the KJV Bible every day.

          That doesn’t seem much like Islam to me.

    • Brian

      Sorry, Mormons are Christians. Your reasoning that they aren’t could also be used to claim that Protestants aren’t Christian either, which would be just as false.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      This critique is nonsense. Fidelity to extra-biblical ideas can’t be the litmus test for Christianity. On bdlaacmm’s theory, Peter, James, John, Paul … that whole group weren’t Christians because they were around before anyone came up with the concept of homoousios or consubstantiality. Mormons believe in the literal truth of EVERY WORD in the New Testament about Jesus Christ. The claim that such belief isn’t enough to make anyone “Christian” just shows how some people (bdlaacmm is today’s example) want to re-write definitions to exclude those with whom they have theological disputes.

      And I have no idea what a “unique” prophet is. Mormons don’t claim that Joseph Smith “supersedes” any prior prophets, which is why we continue to study the Old and New Testaments and regard them as the Word of God. Mormons believe with Paul that all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof and instruction in righteousness. But Mormons also believe, as spelled out in Ephesians chapter 4, that there are ongoing gifts of prophets and apostles as well as pastors and evangelists, until we all come to a unity of the faith. If you deny the possibility of modern prophets and apostles, you are rejecting that passage of the Bible.

      It is also false to say that Mormons claim “that Christianity was irredeemably corrupt and distorted until they came along.” And, bdlaacmm, it is a sin to bear false witness. At least, Christians believe that. What Mormons claim is that the prophesied falling away of the church had been taken place (that’s in the Bible too, you know), that there were “creeds” that had been corrupted, and that the priesthood and the gospel needed to be restored. It is impossible to deny Christianity to Mormons on this basis without likewise denying Christianity to Protestants who owe their existence to the Reformation in the 16th Century.

      Read 1 John 4:2, please. Then read Matt. 7:1. Then go to Exodus 20:16. Then pray for forgiveness.

    • TR

      First, Mormons don’t reject the Trinity. The first article of faith states “We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.” Mormons aren’t the only Christians to bring forth additional scripture. Was the Old Testament enough? Why a new Testament? Why not another Testament of Jesus Christ? Yes, mormons believe in following prophets, but not that one “supersedes” another. Has God ceased to speak to man through prophets? If so, why? We don’t believe that “Christianity” is corrupt, but that the Church that Christ established fell into apostasy, but this is well understood and is at the root of all protestant religions. The only difference is that Mormons believe that the Church was restored in the latter days. (The official name of the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). To my knowledge only the Catholic church does not believe the apostasy happened. Christianity was originally used in Antioch as a derogatory term signifying those who believe in Christ. This is in the Bible which Mormons consider scripture which teaches of Jesus Christ of which they believe. I could continue, but you get the idea. Are Mormons Christians? Yes

  • Guest

    Christianity is monotheistic. Period. Mormons are polytheistic. QED, Mormons are not Christians.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      “Period.” Oh, snap.

      So, what do you make of the fact that the Hebrew word “elohim” is a plural noun? When God said (Gen. 1:26), “Let us make man in our own image” was He just foolin’ around there with the plural? Because He was talking to Himself, I guess. And I guess you don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then? What did Jesus mean in John 10:34, do you think? What are angels, exactly? “Period.”

      Mormons believe in the literal truth of EVERY WORD in the New Testament about Jesus Christ. The claim that such belief isn’t enough to make anyone “Christian” just shows how some people (you’re an example) want to re-write definitions to exclude those with whom they have theological disputes. If you don’t believe me, find something written in the New Testament about Jesus that Mormons don’t believe.

      • donttouchme

        It probably means the persons of the Trinity are interacting. Yeah, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, three persons in one God.
        At the beginning of the gospel of John, the Word, who is Jesus, is depicted as the Creator. In Genesis, God is the creator. Ergo, Jesus is God and not only a son of God. Tell me where I’m wrong.

        • trytoseeitmyway

          I’m not sure yet whether you are wrong, so let’s just take a look at it a little closer. I mean, we agree that Jesus is God. We also agree that He is not God the Father, right? I think that’s all we’re saying, and you and I get it right out of the Bible, so that has to be OK too. If you’re going to do the arithmetic (counting) it is hard to add 1+1 and get anything other than 2 (we haven’t gotten to the Holy Spirit yet) but that’s just arithmetic.

          So, anyway, we agree that there are Persons (plural) of the Trinity. Mormons use the term “Godhead,” a word which has the advantage of being used in the Bible as opposed to a neologism from centuries later, but let’s stick with the concepts. We agree that there are three (just picked up the Holy Spirit there) Persons who are equally God. No disagreement so far, I think?

          But you say that, in Genesis, God (which one?) is the Creator and in John 1, Jesus is the Creator, so you conclude, I gather, that Jesus is the Person referred to as God in Gen. 1:1. But wait. John 1:2 says that the Word was “with” God. So, the Word “was” God (verse 1) and “with” God (verse 2) all at the same time. Still with me? Somehow you left that out of your summary, but that’s OK.

          So, what do we make of that? Or, to be more precise, how do we read verse 1 and verse 2 together, and with the rest of the Bible, to make a consistent whole?

          You say that the three Persons are “in” one God. Hmm. I notice that you don’t cite a verse there. But I’ll help you out: Jesus refers to Himself as being “in” His Father in John 17:21. Go ahead and look that up. Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying earnestly to the Father because “the hour is come” for His Atonement. (v.1) So, clearly, Father and Son are “interacting” (your word) as separate Persons at that time. (The New Testament is full of other examples of their separateness, but let that go for now.) In verse 5, Jesus refers to “the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” So, we take that to be a reference back to Gen.1 and John1:1-2, don’t we. Here, the word “with” is used, signifying that the Father and Son were together (and experiencing shared glory) at the Creation. Then in verse 6, Jesus refers to “the men which thou gavest me out of the world,” and turns His prayer to them. In verse 20, He expands the prayer to include not only His immediate disciples, but “also which shall believe on me through their word,” which can of course include … us.

          That’s the background – I’m just setting the stage, as it were, for verses 21-22. Jesus says,

          21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

          22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

          Huh. Isn’t that interesting? Have you ever thought of those verses in the context of the doctrine of the Trinity? I know that you’ve read those verses, of course, but I don’t know if you have thought through what is being said about divine nature. (See 2 Pet. 1:4.)

          What’s important here is that Jesus refers to being “in” the Father, and that the Father is “in” Jesus, and that they are “one.” So, you would look at that and say, that’s exactly my point. And perhaps it is. But I wonder if you understand what else falls from these verses. Jesus asks, in righteousness, that ALL of us be “in” Him, in just the same way that He is “in” the Father, “that they may also be one in us” and be one, “even as we [Father and Son] are one.”

          So, Jesus was praying that we can all partake of the divine nature, as Peter taught in the verse I cited above. And he used the idea of being “in” the Father, or “in” the Son, or the two of them being “in” each other, in exactly the same way that He referred to the rest of us being “in” them.

          I mean, you agree with this, right? We agree that this is how to to read John 17? Very much the same principles can be drawn from John 14:5-25, but I won’t try to walk you through those verses here.

          So, Mormons believe that Jesus is God, that He is “in” His Father, that the Father is “in” the Son, and that we all have the potential to be “in” them as well. See also, Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 2:9. Mormons believe that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit) are united in the Godhead (Acts 17:9; Col. 2:9, both KJV) and in their common purposes. When God (we would understand this as the Father) says (to the Son), “Let us [plural] make man in our [plural] image, after our [plural] likeness” (Gen. 1:26) we believe that His words were literally rendered, speaking to (and about) the actions and likenesses of (at least) the Father and the Son. Mormons believe that they then proceeded to do that which had been spoken, that is, that they (Father and Son) created the heavens and the earth, and man and other living things upon the earth, exactly as recorded in Genesis (and elsewhere) and as recalled in John 1, so that it can be truly said that “without him [the Word, or Jesus Christ] was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:3.

          So you asked, tell me where I’m wrong? As I answered, I am not sure that you are. You haven’t yet said anything with which I would have to disagree. Now if you begin to discuss consubstantiality, or descend into the modalist heresy, or advance any other post-Nicene doctrines that AREN’T in the Bible, we would have to have a discussion about that. But, for now, we’re good! Hope that helps.

          • Thomas Palmieri

            Trytoseeitmyway, why are you still posting on the nature of the Trinity as Father, Son and Spirit existing in bodies when you have failed to answer me on the Scriptural proofs that I brought forward showing you that God does not exist in a body? Namely, Isaiah 66:1: ‘heaven is my throne, earth is my footstool, where is my place of rest?”, and Ephesians 4:4-6: ‘there is…one God existing above all and through all and in all?’ That the Son “dwelling in the bosom of the Father” (Jn 1:18) [the 'bosom' signifying the interior or proper nature of God which exists everywhere], also existing everywhere, “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3). The Spirit “proceeding forth from the Father” (Jn 15:26) likewise existing everywhere, as it says in the Psalms: “whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? if I ascend to heave, thou art there, if I make my bed in Hades, behold, thou art there” (Ps 139:7-8).
            What is the Word of God? A body? No. John says: “In the beginning the Word was with God and was God” (Jn 1:1). Did the Word of God dwell in the bosom of the Father as a body? No. It dwelt as “the Word of life…that eternal life, which was with the Father, which was manifested to us” (1 Jn 1:1-2). What, then, is the Word of God? It is “the power and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24). How then begat God the Word of Wisdom and Power? As it says in the Proverbs: “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning…I was brought forth” (Prov 8:23-24). Was the Word begotten or brought forth as a body? No. That is not the nature of Divine Wisdom. Then what is Wisdom’s nature? As it says in the Book of Wisdom (from the Greek Septuagint Old Testament used by the apostles): “(Wisdom) is the breath of the power of God, the pure effluence of the glory of the Almighty…the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness…in all ages entering into holy souls, (Wisdom) maketh them friends of God, and prophets” (Wis 7:25-27). God, then, is “the Father of lights” (Jas 1:17), the Word of God, the only begotten Son, is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of his power, and image of his goodness. One, then, is divine light unoriginate; the other is the same light mirrored or imaged forth. The Son then also is the Wisdom of God which made ALL things (Jn 1:3).
            Therefore the Word being God by nature true light mirrored forth from unoriginate light, he does not partake of that which is proper to his nature, as do the men who are redeemed by God (2 Pet 1:4). We, however, being creations of God, are sons not by nature but by adoption (Gal 4:5), by our reception of the renewing power of the Holy Spirit (Tit 3:5) which is ministered by the Son of God (1 Cor 12:5).
            The Son, the Word of eternal life, dwells in God (Jn 1:18) and proceeds forth from God (Jn 8:42) and pervades all of creation (Heb 1:3). The Holy Spirit proceeds forth from the Father (Jn 15:26) and is sent forth (Jn 16:7) or ministered (1 Cor 12:5) by the Son, the divine Wisdom dwelling in the souls of the righteous. So St. James also teaches, who says: ‘every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning; of his own will he begat us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (Jas 1:17-18). Now what is the gift of God but the Holy Spirit, as Christ teaches: ‘if you being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Lk 11:13).
            Again Paul teaches that God dwells in us in the Holy Spirit: “know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” ((1 Cor 3:16). Who says also: “I am crucified with Christ; I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal 2:20).
            The Holy Spirit is the proper Spirit both of the Father and of the Son. The Holy Spirit proceeds forth from the Father, as proper to his nature (Jn 15:26). He is sent (Jn 16:7) or ministered (1 Cor 12:5) by the Son, as proper also to his nature, the Father and the Son being one (Jn 10:30). That this is the proper state of affairs is proved by the following Scriptures: ‘God saith, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh’ (Acts 2:17); Wisdom also saying: ‘turn you at my reproof, for I will pour out my Spirit unto you, and will make my words known unto you’ (Prov 1:23).
            And finally, the indivisible substantiality of the Word and Spirit of the Father with the Father is declared in the words of the psalmist: “by the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the Spirit of his mouth” (Ps 33:6).
            Who then is Jesus Christ? He is “the Word made flesh” (Jn 1:14). He is the Word of God, the Wisdom of God and Word of eternal life ever dwelling within the bosom of God and ever proceeding forth from God, which creates, sustains and upholds all things in creation. The Word, then, was not flesh, but was made flesh in the fullness of time, “which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4). Jesus Christ is then the Wisdom of God, the brightness of the everlasting and incorporeal light of God from eternity, united to a human body and soul made of the seed of David, of the flesh of the Virgin Mary. He is God incorporeal united to man corporeal. Prior to the incarnation, he had no bodily nature whatsoever, being the incorporeal Word and Wisdom of God which fashioned all things into existence.

            Now having fortified ourselves with a proper understanding of the nature of the Word and Spirit of God, let us return to Christ’s Last Supper Discourse as related in the Gospel of John. The Son of God declares: “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” (Jn 14:11). “I go unto my Father” [i.e. his Father's bosom] (Jn 14:12). “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…he shall dwell with you, and be in you” (Jn 14:16-17). “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you” (Jn 14:18). “He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father. and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:21). Judas (not Iscariot) saith unto him: “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world?” (Jn 14:22). Jesus answered and said: “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (Jn 14:23). The Father will come and dwell in the temple of the human spirit, which is God’s temple, who dwells in us in the Spirit of the Word of the Father.
            When Mormons think of Jesus Christ, and when they read of the Word of God and of the Son of God, they always picture to themselves a body existing in human form in the heavenly precincts, who either began to exist in time or did not (you never seem to make yourself clear on the matter). But the Scriptures declare that the Son of God is not a son in the natural bodily sense, but the Word of eternal life and Wisdom and Power dwelling from everlasting in the metaphorical bosom of the all pervading light and glory of the Father of lights. Imagine just for a moment, if you will, a light having neither shape nor form, of infinite size and power and scope, infinitely glorious and majestic in grandeur, dazzling beyond comprehension, which enters into the soul and suffuses it with peace and love and bliss. That is the Word of eternal life ministering to the soul the Spirit of holiness, the Word and Spirit mirroring forth the substantial light and glory of the Father, as light reflecting in a series of mirrors, one and the same in nature and power and grandeur, though differing in order of origination and procession, distinct from one another but never divided from one another. Imagine further that this superstantial light and glory which has existed from everlasting had united itself to a human nature, and drawn the humanity to itself and veiled its glorious luminescence for the purpose of offering itself a pure and spotless sacrifice for the redemption of our sins, the humanity dying for our sins, but the divinity raising the humanity to newness of life, which shedding the Holy Spirit abroad, that is to say, pouring out its Spirit upon all flesh, makes those whom it has created in its image once more fit to become partakers of the divine nature, that is to say, of itself. That is what Christians understand by Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Word made flesh.
            If the Word is the Maker of all worlds and ages (Heb 1:2, 11:3), yea of ALL things (Jn 1:3), the Word then is the Maker of all bodies. Hence the Word is not a body. Who has ever heard of a word being a body? I demand that you show me one example where a word is a body. No. A word is intangible thought. Therefore the intangible Word and Wisdom of God existng outside of all times and ages became flesh in taking seed from the line of David.
            The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit exist IN one another substantially, the Word proceeding from the Father and the Spirit from the Father through the Word wherefore to dwell in the souls of the righteous, who become ‘gods’ in the sense that they are made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4). The Word and the Spirit do not ‘partake’ of the divine nature, for they are the divine nature itself, proceeding forth as images of the Father’s glory, light eternal proceeding forth from light eternal. Yes, the Word and the Spirit are CONSUBSTANTIAL with the Father, for how do you separate the brightness (the Son) from the everlasting light (the Father)? How do you divide God from his own Spirit? How do you partition God from his Word and Wisdom, and either of these from the Spirit that they pour forth upon creation?
            The Nicene definitions ARE in the Bible, as shown above. Show us one of the pre-Nicene Church fathers who taught that the Father, the Son and the Spirit exist in human bodily forms. There are none. The doctrine that the Father and the Son exist in bodily forms is a phenomenon produced by 19th century Protestant American denominationalism, where in the democratic spirit, an endless number of Christian denominations sprang up, many of which had lost all touch with the writings of the ancient fathers, and trusting in their own limited resources, certain of them (viz. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses) took their notions of God from the experience of their senses, and conceived a grossly distorted view of the biblical teachings. If you do not study the writings of the ancient fathers, how do you know that your beliefs are in conformity with those of the ancient Church founded by Christ and the apostles?

    • RaymondSwenson

      The Nicene Creed insists that the Trinity includes three separate “persons”. They are not one person who puts on a mask to appear as Jesus ( a classic heresy that is quite common in the beliefs of individual Protestants and Catholics), but three persons. Jews and Muslims assert that THEY are monotheists, but that any Christian who claims to be a monotheist while asserting that Jesus is God in addition to the Father is a polytheist. Mormons are no more polytheists than a Catholic, Orthodox.or Protestant Christian.

      Again, trying to exclude someone from being Christian based on the non-biblical formula in the Nicene Creed will exclude everyone in the pre-Nicene First Century church, including Peter, Paul, John,Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Indeed, the schism between Catholics and Orthodox is based partly on disagreement over the wording and meaning of the Nicene formula, specifically whether or not the Father is primary to the Son.

      • donttouchme

        Don’t Mormons believe there is more than one god? That a person can become a god? That humans have in fact become gods? That would make Mormons polytheistic.

        Three persons in one God is the Trinity. That’s the defined Christian position that virtually all Christians believe. That’s very different from the Mormon belief in three separate beings.

        What I’ve seen and experienced with Mormons is they continually try to downplay huge differences and try to convince people that Mormonism and Christianity are the same instead of just being forthright about the differences. Mormons are oily.

        • RaymondSwenson

          Apparently you can’t discuss theology without getting into ad hominem attacks.

          If you were familiar with the Eastern Orthodox doctrines, which they have preserved from the pre-Nicene Christian fathers like Irenaeus of Lyon, you would know that they teach that what happens to the saved Christian is theosis, becoming like Christ, who is both man and God. Perhaps because this doctrine was not emphasized in Catholicism when the Reformation occurred, the Protestant churches have largely.lost sight of it, but it is taught, according to the Orthodox, in many passages of the New Testament.

          You should be aware that many Protestant denominations, especially those that were founded out of a felt need to restore the original Christianity that predated the creeds, specifically reject the one substance idea, and support a social trinitarianism that resembles Mormon beliefs.

          I have thought at times that many Protestants claim to embrace the three persons in one substance trinitarianism because it only requires people to recite an affirmation rather than understand it, since it cannot be understood in any sense of human language because the words are self-contradictory. Having a deep theological appreciation for the creedal description of God is not a requirement for admission or baptism in many of those churches, nor is it the topic of sermons. Being willing to SAY you affirm it is used as a boundary marker to maintain distinction from non-trinitarian churches like Mormons, and to claim unity with Catholicism and other older Christian traditions, despite deep disagreements with those traditions over aspects of Christianity that have more meaning in the practice of individuals. It is used to defend the monotheistic status of Christians against Jews and Muslims, but beyond these classification benefits it has no apparent impact on other beliefs (including soteriology) or in the behavior of Christians. It was clearly not important in the preaching of the gospel of Christ to either Jews or gentiles as recorded in the New Testament. If neither Jesus nor Peter nor Paul taught it, how could it be fundamental to the definition of Christian faith? Along with cheap grace, simply claiming allegiance to that version of the.trinity if it makes no difference in your beliefs and.behavior is a cheap faith.

      • Guest

        Not even getting into whether or not Mormons are Christians, your statement on how the Trinity makes Christianity polytheistic is simply misunderstanding the Trinity. The Trinity is God as one in three persons- while there are three distinct “persons” (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) they are together one God. They all exist at the same time and have all existed together forever. They are one God in three “persons”- but these three “persons” are not three different gods, because they together make up one God. The idea of the Trinity can be confusing, but I hope this makes the Trinity (and why Christianity is monotheistic and not polytheistic) make more sense!

        Also, the Trinity is very Biblical. Yes, the word “Trinity” is not specifically stated in the Bible, but looking at the Bible a picture begins to form that is the same as Triune beliefs. It’s clear that God is the only God (Deuteronomy 4:35; Romans 3:30) but yet Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both seen as God (2 Peter 1:1; Philippians 2:10-11 – this Biblical verse specifically stresses to worship Jesus, despite other Biblical verses stating that only God should be worshiped). So, therefore, what conclusions are to come from all of this? New Testament passages are clear that Jesus is God and should be worshiped alongside saying that only God is to be worshiped and staying in line with these Jewish traditions (remember – the NT and early Christianity was deeply Jewish, as well as was/is Jesus) of Father the God. The Trinity is a logical idea to come out of this and can be clearly capture from verses like these, among others.

        Along, there is nothing to suggest Peter, Paul, and many other Christian believers did not believe in the Trinity. From what I have learned and been told, many believe it was simply easier from them- well, really, Jewish Christians during that time- to grasp the concept of the Trinity without having to specifically define it. Now, when it spread to the Roman Empire and to pagans, the formally polytheistic people were more confused on this concept and, thus, the Nicene Creed was created. And that deserves quite a bit of credit in its own regard- many councils (yes, beyond the Council of Nicea), meetings, conversations and letters between various theologians of the time, and more happened to get this creed finalized and therefore holds quite a lot of thought behind it. Just because the word Trinity is not specifically in the Bible does not discredit the theological idea of the Trinity.

        • TR

          The whole point is that the Trinity is poorly understood, even by those who profess to believe. God is defined both as 3 seperate and one single being. So, is it one, or 3, or both definitions? It seems it is more of a political statement to appease believers of all types, not to really define anything at all. With that definition I can agree with the Nicene Creed on this point: That God is unknowable.

      • Thomas Palmieri

        Not correct. The dispute centers around the procession of the Holy Spirit, based upon distinctions between the Latin and the Greek original of the Gospel. In Greek, John 15:26 says that the Spirit proceeds forth from out of the Father. The Greeks therefore understand that the Spirit proceeds forth from the Father through the Son, who ministers the Spirit to the creation. The Latins understand the Spirit to proceed forth from the Father (Jn 15:26) and the Son (Jn 16:7). The Greeks wrongly assert that St. Augustine taught the double procession, that is, the double origination, of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son. Augustine taught rather that the Spirit proceeds principally from the Father, and thereafter from the Son [not in time, but in eternity]. The Latin procedere means simply proceed, while the Greek ekporeuetai means to originate. The Latins are right to insist that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. The Greeks are right to insist that the Spirit originates in the Father. It is primarily a dispute centered in language, which required the Latins to state things differently than the Greeks, though the idea remained the same, and also of history, for the Latins were forced to deal with a heresy denying the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son, which the Greeks did not face. The Creed declaring the double procession of the Holy Spirit as recited in the Western liturgies was therefore altered over time to reflect a decree from a council of Western prelates held in Toledo in the 6th century declaring the procession of the Spirit from both the Father and the Son. When the Pope changed the creed in the West to make it conformable with the French and German liturgies, the Greeks objected that the Pope could make no such alteration absent an ecumenical council of both Eastern and Western Bishops. Therefore a dispute over the prerogatives of the papacy came into issue. The Greeks held that an ecumenical council was the final authority on matters of doctrine, the Pope claiming for himself the authority, the Church at Rome having long held that the determinations of an ecumenical council were not binding absent his imprimatur. This also brings in matters of a political nature, the rivalry between Constantinople and Rome for primacy in the Church, the Imperial influence exercised over Church affairs, the gradual cultural estrangement of the Latins and the Greeks, and so forth.

  • laverl09

    What troubles me in this discussion is that even tho the core tenet of Christianity is that Jesus atoned for our sins IF we will let Him, no one is using this as a basis for being Christian. The mystery of how he did it and who else he is or was is not the issue. Accepting Him as our Savior is the NECESSARY heart and sole of Christianity.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    A lot of what you say Mormons believe turns out to be wrong. You’ve been reading too many so-called countercult websites. Mormons believe, with you, that God is eternal and uncreated. They believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Do you?) I have no idea what you mean by the phrase “intellectual quintessence,” and likely you don’t either. Mormons believe that Jesus was and is God and believe in the Godhead, a term that has the virtue of being used in the actual Bible.

    Eph. 4:6 refers to the Father, and not the Son, right? Eph. 4-6 refers individually to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. “Elohim” is a plural noun, did you know that? The only way you can add Father, Son and Holy Ghost and get only one Being is through sophistry. To prove that, I invite you to explain how Father, Son and Holy Ghost amount to one Being. Be sure to avoid the modalist heresy; a lot of people fall into that trap. When God said (Gen. 1:26), “Let us make man in our own image” was He just foolin’ around there with the plural? Because He was talking to Himself, I guess. And I guess you don’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then? What did Jesus mean in John 10:34, do you think? What are angels, exactly?

    Mormons believe EVERY WORD written in the New Testament about Jesus Christ. To help me prove that to you, quote one verse that you don’t think Mormons believe.

    While we’re in Ephesians 4, what do you make of verses 11-14? Do you have apostles and prophets in your church? If not, how is it that you deny the meaning of those verses?

    Read Acts 7:55. Do you believe in the literal truth of that verse? If not, then how do you claim that it is Mormons who twist the Scriptures? I think it’s you who does.

  • TR

    The Christian definition of God that you describe is, I assume, the formal, mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries at the Council of Nicaea and which became known as the Nicene Creed. This council took place beginning in the year A.D. 325, but took 125 years and three more major councils to before the “Trinity” was defined. This creed declares the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract where all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, yet not three Gods but one. This confusing definition is often described as the “mystery of the trinity”, but it is not to be understood this way in the Scriptures because it is not true. For you to suggest that using the scriptures to define Christ rather than a group of educated men (several centuries after the New Testament might I add) to be Un-Christian is rather interesting to say the least.


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