Dialogue with an Atheist: Are Mormons Christians?

Contrast Truth Note Contrary Lie Street Sign

Christianity has an objective meaning, and it is trinitarian.

Words of Richard Cranium will be in blue.

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So Mormons aren’t Christians? I think that would be news to a Mormon.

No they’re not. They deny the Trinity. They’re well familiar with Christians saying they are not Christians: on this basis and others.

Just because you have some doctrinal dispute with Mormons doesn’t mean they aren’t Christians. For instance, historians, Christians and otherwise, say Arius was a Christian, and he disputed the trinity. In fact, according to the book Jesus Wars by Phillip Jenkins, Arius’s side nearly won the dispute.

Plus, you shouldn’t really define other people’s labels for them. It’s just rude. By the way, this is from the LDS Web site: “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally affirm themselves to be Christians. They worship God the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ. When asked what the Latter-day Saints believe, Joseph Smith put Christ at the center: “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.”

So you’re wrong; Mormons are Christians. It’s okay if you respond with, “Well, they’re not MY kind of Christians,” but it’s not okay to go around telling people that they are not Christians when they obviously call themselves Christians.

And I wouldn’t be so proud of saying, “They are well familiar with Christians saying they are not Christians.” Because, to me, it’s like you’re saying “They’re used to us being jerks to them, so it’s okay.”

Christianity has an historical meaning, and it is trinitarian. Therefore, anyone who denies the Trinity is not a Christian, period. It’s irrelevant if they call themselves Christians. Of course they do. So has every other non-Christian cult and sect throughout history.

No. There are and have been plenty of non-Christian cults and sects that are actually non-Christian.

You don’t get to define “Christian” for us anymore than we can define “atheist” for you.

The Apostle Paul talked about this sort of thing:

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (RSV) But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. [4] For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough.

I just wish you weren’t so keen on using words in a way that only people in your tribe could understand. I’m just having trouble following your logic, and you just seem unkind to boot. Is this you on a bad day, or are you like this all the time?

I’m like this all the time. I understand that it is foreign thinking to you, and so now you are starting to get personal. Your choice.

Well, I appreciate your explaining it to me. But I have a handful of Mormon friends, and it bothers me that you would be unkind to them. And when our words have different definitions, it might be a sign that our thinking is getting too insular; that’s part of why I appreciate your dialogue. That’s also why it frustrates me.

Honest differences of opinion and principle are neither “unkind” nor personal.

The key word being “honest.” There’s a big difference between saying “They are not my kind of Christian,” or even “they are nominally Christian,” and misinforming people by saying “they are NOT Christian.” That’s very close to slandering them, especially considering those who you are most likely to say it to.

That’s how our postmodern society sees it because it no longer accepts absolute truths. Therefore, to disagree with someone and to say they are wrong is virtually identical to a personal insult and a slander.

It used to be that a person and their ideas were regarded as completely distinct, and not everything was personal and subjective. Now it is, thanks to our beloved secularism and goofy ideas in modern philosophy for many generations now.

“Christianity” has a meaning, and it is determined by history and the history of theology. I refuse to never correct someone who holds to an error under the guise that I’m a big meanie and a jerk because I dared to disagree with someone and say that they are mistaken.

That’s your postmodern secularist, subjective mush. It’s not my world. I’m the stranger and pilgrim in this society, as a result.

Are you aware of what you sound like when you claim to be such a special little snowflake, a member of a small, dwindling tribe of people holding onto an “objective viewpoint” despite ever-increasing pressure and even “persecution” from an oppressively cruel wide world, and any number of dictionaries?

I’m aware that “Christianity” has a meaning. I’ve studied it thoroughly and dismissed it as poppycock and continue to study it in an effort to try to understand people who still cling to it. I can also open up the dictionary.

And I know enough to know that people who beat the drum of “objective truth” usually mean “my truth should prevail over your truth.”

I also want to remind you about another word you’ve got wrong. A secularist is just someone who wants the government to stay out of dictating people’s religion. There are plenty of religious people who are secularists.

You go right ahead and blame your dishonesty on “post-modernism.” The rest of the world doesn’t understand you. They’re influenced by “Satan.” That’s got to be it; right? That sure fits the Occam’s razor test; right?

[earlier, we had this exchange]:

I have to admit that when you use words like “resisting the devil and the urges of the flesh,” it makes me wonder if you’re suspicious that I’m somehow motivated by “the devil,” and that makes me concerned.

It doesn’t follow that I think you are motivated by the devil. That would be difficult, since you no doubt deny that he exists. But he could (from our viewpoint) still be influencing or even possibly controlling you. He loves to influence people who think he isn’t there.

***

No wonder some people say religious people are delusional.

The true colors have come out now. Being an “angry atheist” is apparently a tremendous temptation, and you couldn’t resist.

It’s a textbook demonstration and a great teaching moment for observers. I do heartily thank you for that, at least, and wish you the very best.

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(originally 1-15-17)

Photo credit: MaxPixel.freegreatpicture.com [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Zero – CC0 license]

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