Why Mormons aren’t Christians

Angel Moroni

EstudioBLAU, Flickr.

For the last generation Mormons have tried to mainstream themselves. The popular “I am a Mormon” ad campaign is part of that effort, but it’s only the most recent manifestation of a long public-relations campaign. For the last few decades the Mormon Church has presented its adherents as good-neighborly types: friendly, moral, familial. But the family-down-the-street strategy is only part of the job.

The Mormons have also actively worked to make their beliefs appear within the pale of orthodox Christianity too. If you go to the Mormon.org site, for instance, you’ll be greeted by the affirmation, “We believe first and foremost that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God,” a statement that any Christian group could affirm. So Mormons must be just like any Christian group, right?

Mitt Romney’s presidential bid has brought renewed attention to the question, and it’s disheartening to watch the way some Christians have answered it. Joel Osteen, for one egregious and recent example, told the Washington Times that “[Mormons] are Christians.” He elaborated, “I hear Mitt Romney . . . say, ‘I believe Jesus is the son of God,’ ‘I believe he’s my savior,’ and that’s one of the core issues.” He then downplayed the doctrinal problems. “I’m sure there are other issues that we don’t agree on,” he said. “But you know, I can say that the Baptists and the Methodists and the Catholics don’t all agree on everything.”

Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics disagree about things like bishops and whether babies should be baptized. Let’s compare that level of disagreement with the divide that separates Christians and Mormons. Take the first section of the Nicene Creed, a bedrock statement of accepted Christian teaching:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

We’re already off to a rough start. If God is the maker of all things, he cannot have been made himself, yet Mormons teach exactly that: God the Father was once a man, just like you or me (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7.334). And he still has a physical body; as it says in Doctrine and Covenants, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (130.22).

Now look at the next few lines from the creed, these concerning Christ:

And [I believe] in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all worlds, light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. . . .

Where to begin? For Mormons Jesus isn’t the only son of God, and he’s not eternally begotten of the Father. God has many children, none of whom are eternally begotten because they were created in time. For Mormons Jesus was conceived, not when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, as the King James delicately puts it, but when God the Father had intercourse with Mary. Remember, he’s got a “body of flesh and bones as tangible as a man’s.” That doesn’t sound like any Baptist, Methodist, or Catholic I know. Oh, yeah — because it’s not Christian.

Nonetheless, there is tremendous pressure in the culture to accept Mormons as Christians. And despite these radically different views, some Christians seem willing to accept them in the fold. Mormons, after all, are so clean-cut and all-American. Conservatives like it because Mormons make good co-belligerents in the culture wars. Who gives a rip about theology, anyway? The always-agreeable Joel Osteen caved in two shakes.

Perhaps the most ironic thing about our baptism of Mormonism is that the movement’s founder, Joseph Smith, along with all the early Mormons, would have despised it. To them, mainstream Christianity was apostate; this is the raison d’être of the whole movement. Mormons teach that the church fell into darkness shortly after Christ’s ascension and was only restored through the person and actions of Joseph Smith, some eighteen hundred years later. The only true Christians in this view are Mormons. For modern-day Mormons to seek inclusion among all the other supposedly apostate churches of Christendom is a bit like a pure-bred hound trying to hang out with the mutts and alley cats.

Whatever their motivation for inclusion, until Mormons reject their foundational doctrines about God and Christ (and a lot more) and accept the classic, creedal definitions of the faith, they have no business calling themselves Christians. And Christians have no business doing it either.

About Joel J. Miller

I'm the author of Lifted by Angels, a look at angels through the eyes of the early church. Click here for more about me or subscribe to my RSS here.

  • http://www.kylechowning.com Kyle Chowning

    Great post Joel. You’ve got me hooked on your blog now. BAM!

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Awesome. Thanks!

    • Urwrong

      Go Mormons. And they are Christians great people and are loving to all other christian churches. Love Christ and know he is the savior.

      • nathan

        how then do you explain that mormons teach that God has a body of flesh? The BIBLE, which is His only word, says that he does not. if you teach something different than what the Bible teaches, you are no longer a christian. i know you treat people the same as us and are a lot of you nice, but so are bhuddists and hindus and other religions out there. it doesn’t make them christians. if only people would look at the doctrines of what they believe rather than just blindly accept what people tell them….

      • AnImE iS bEaUtIfUl

        well. I’m surprised. This guy really did his research and didn’t use any false information like most of the things I hear. I just wanted to see what this was about. Mormon girl here about to set you straight about the “family down the street strategy” thing. This kind of pissed me off cause that image isn’t some sort of evil propaganda, it’s just the image of us because we’re all about family. That’s why we believe that Heavenly Father had a family (us) so that we could have a plan after we reach heaven, so that we can have spirit families so that they can walk on an earth and learn like we did. I guess you can say that it just makes more sense to some people and less to others and none to most but I appreciate that no false information was used. You don’t have to accept us into the christian genre but please don’t mock the belief because it shifts from yours. by the way, I’m thirteen years old and I was going through some struggles with faith but this reminded me that I’m fine where I’m at because it makes more sense to me. I’m going to laugh when no one reads this and if you did thx for reading even though you probably don’t agree with the religion.

    • Urwrong

      Mormons are good christians

    • Urwrong

      Yes they are. The appropriate name isThe Church of Jeseus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mormons are christians.

  • DaveM

    For a good read I recommend, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Agreed. One Nation Under Gods by Richard Abanes is also good.

  • http://jeffreyholton.blogspot.com Jeff Holton

    After falling for a well-intentioned post a few weeks ago that quibbled about the difference between a cult and a sect, thanks for reminding me that the definition of Truth doesn’t come from a dictionary.

    • Scott

      I think we can agree that Mormons aren’t Christians while also believing that they’re not a cult. For example, see: “Is Mormonism a Cult? Not Now (But It Used to Be)” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/blackwhiteandgray/2011/10/is-mormonism-a-cult-no-but-it-used-to-be/.

      • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

        I think that’s probably fair. A cult designation implies a level of control over adherents that Mormonism really doesn’t have any longer. Mormon leaders have about as much control over their people as Presbyterians.

        Mormons are either a Christian heresy or they are another religion altogether.

        • Nicholas de Burgo

          I am not a Christian now but I did study Christianity as a young man in college. I also spent some time reading the Book of Mormon. In my humble and maybe not professional opinion Mormons are not Christians. They may be off shoots of Christianity but in no way are Christians. Their doctrine is totally different and at odds with any Christian doctrine. I am sorry to say this because I have a brother who is Mormon. I do not think though this has anything to do with them being good people or bad people. There are good and bad in all religions. I just think though they are not being truthful and maybe they are worried that Christians will not treat them fairly. Opinions from anyone.

      • Urwrong

        Mormons are christains

  • Peter

    Mormons are definitely not trying to be included along with mainstream Christianity. However, Mormons must take a stand when you say that they are not Christians. Most people know very little about the church and by saying Mormons are not Christian, you leave people wondering what Mormons do believe. If Mormons do not worship Christ, then who do they worship.

    I disagree with the author that things like infant baptism are of no consequence. Mormon do not baptize babies. However, what if God requires it like the Catholic religion believes. Where than do the protestants stand in Gods eyes. Remember that the roots of the Catholic church are far older that the protestants.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Peter, thanks for your comment.

      I don’t deny that Mormons believe in Christ and worship him. But it’s not the same Christ that Christians believe in and worship. The Mormon Christ bears little resemblance to the Christ of Christian Scripture or tradition. That’s the very point of the examination of the Creed above.

      I agree that disagreements among Christians about things like baptism are important, but no Christian can claim the name and believe that Jesus Christ was other than as the Creed presents. That point is only further made when looking at the nature of God. Mormonism’s God is not the Christian God, not as presented in the Scripture or the tradition.

      No one is saying that a person can’t worship the Mormon Christ or the Mormon God, but that person can’t claim to be a Christian while doing so.

  • Peter

    Mormons do not accept the nicene creed as scripture.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Neither do I, but Christians believe it accurately summarizes the Scriptural and traditional teaching on the nature of God and Christ.

      If we just keep the words of the Bible but swap out the meanings, we’re fooling ourselves. But theology isn’t a game of bait-and-switch, and Mormonism simply doesn’t teach what Christians teach about the nature of God and Christ.

      Calling oneself a Christian doesn’t make oneself a Christian anymore than calling oneself a car makes one an automobile. The nature and the name have to match.

      • http://papaharos.blogspot.com Father Athanasios C Haros

        Great point here Joel. In a recent conversation about a “personal relationship with God,” a typical Protestant phrase, I said I agreed. “But WHO is Christ with whom this personal relationship is lived?” Orthodox Christians would say we are in communtion with Christ – nothing more personal than that. Words means something or they are just babble. Thanks for a thoughout-provoking post.

        Father Athanasios C Haros, Pastor
        Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church
        Florence, SC

  • Cassie Hansen

    My best friend in high school was/is Mormon, and finally one night I asked her to tell me what she believed. I sat in my room (on the phone), tears rolling down my face, as she told me what she believed. That because Christ is the Son of God it must mean the human definition of son (less than the father). They can be baptized for people who have died and weren’t Mormon. The list went on, unfortunately 15 years later those two are all I remember.

    We shared a history class where the teacher said Mormon’s weren’t Christians, and my friend was livid when we left class. I gently explained to her that if her words were true, they don’t believe in a Triune God, which unites the other Christian denominations. She admitted it.

    It is so sad, because the “niceness” of the belief system can grab hold of people who are just searching to belong.

    Great post- it is something that needs to be said. To say a Mormon is a Christian is ignorance, because it is not enough to simply believe in a Person by the name of Jesus Christ- you have to BELIEVE in the Triune God.

  • http://www.mikeshaw.net Mike

    A Mormon friend of mine and I were in Vegas for a tech conference..

    …which sounds like a joke in itself: “So a mormon and a southern baptist walk into a casino”…

    ..and we probably discussed theology for about 15 minutes, at which point we completely agreed that we believed totally different things. And then we continued to hang out at the conference.

    I don’t know why we can’t see differences for what they really are. It seems like only people who actually *believe* things are comfortable recognizing boundaries and differences. Everyone else thinks the world is turning upside down any time they are reminded truth exists.

    Our friendship obviously can’t go past a certain level because we believe different things. But who knows, maybe the seeds won’t fall on the rocks over the long haul?

  • http://www.hiskingdomprophecy.com Angus MacKillop

    Agreed, supported and understated.
    As the enemy showed in Eden, a little lie goes a long way.
    To me this is just further confirmation, as if that were needed, that we are indeed in times of deception.
    Blessings, Angus

  • Nicole

    As said before in this discussion Mormons do not believe the Nicene Creed. So based on that it is hard to compare their beliefs to other Christians. I am curious though where the author gets his information concerning how Jesus Christ was conceived? Mormons believe the King James version of Mary being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Also to clarify they believe Jesus Christ is the first born of Heavenly Fathers spirit children, and he is the only begotten in the flesh.
    If I am correct the Nicene Creed was written by a group of men who collaborated ideas about what and who they thought God and Christ were/are, some 400 years after Jesus Christ was on the earth. I am unclear on how they could know anymore about the subject than Joseph Smith, or any other man. Although it may not match the traditional definition of Christianity, Mormons are Christian, they believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, as the Only Begotten of the Father, they believe He is the Savior, and He atoned for all, they believe he will return again to the Earth to rule and reign. It seems like there is more in common than in opposition between Mormons and Christians.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      It’s not hard at all. The Nicene Creed summarizes what Christians believe. If someone doesn’t believe it, the comparison is already made. Mormons teach that God had sex with Mary; that’s not what Christians believe (she’s a virgin). Mormons teach, as you say, that “Jesus is the first born of Heavenly Father’s spirit children”; Christians believe that Jesus is the only-born of the Father and that he is of the same essence with the father–all other created beings are of a different essence. God has no other spirit children like Jesus or of the same substance as Jesus. To say that Jesus is first or merely only-begotten in the flesh is to speak of another Jesus than the one Christians confess.

      The Nicene Creed was the result of bishops of the entire church meeting to confront the heresy of Arianism (which incidentally, has features similar to Mormonism). Just like the council in Jerusalem we read about it Acts, this council of bishops had authority to speak as the church and for the church after their decree was universally accepted by the church. It was not a mere collection of men. It was the church gathering as church to discuss and define crucial matters about its understanding of the savior. And that is why Christians have confessed it ever since it was formulated and why if someone doesn’t confess it they cannot be considered Christian.

      The Creed represents the orthodox understanding of the gospel as handed down in Scripture and tradition. To keep using the words without the orthodox understanding is meaningless. For instance, you say Mormons believe in the divinity of Jesus. Great. But is that divinity consubstantial (or of the same essence) with the Father’s divinity? Not if you’re a Mormon. Ergo, Mormon’s aren’t Christians.

  • B. Tyler Ellis

    I’ve had bible studies with many Mormons, just as I’ve had with Baptists and others. I used to list all the things Mormons believe that I consider wrong. Then I proceeded as if to say the list is what makes them lost. Then I’d walk then through each point, presenting what I consider to be right, as if to say that my new list is what makes them saved.
    I later realized that this approach was bad. First, people are lost because of sin, and second, people are saved because of Jesus.
    I’m not convinced if we could go back in time and interview the thief on the cross and some of the first converts, that they could articulate any creeds point for point. Those people simply looked to Jesus as Lord and trusted him as Savior.
    The question is, have Mormons trusted Jesus as Savior or is there more that they require their converts to believe and do in order to be saved? From my experience, a lot of Mormons are approaching God in a very works-based effort that appeals to human effort. The message is “Jesus + this or that = salvation.” In doing so, they make the death of Christ insufficient and pervert the gospel.
    Sadly, many people I’ve studied with from Christian denominations appeal to a similar formula, just filling in the blank with something else. They know who Jesus is and how he died but they view him more as a standard that we had to live up to in order to be saved.
    We must be careful to address more than doctrinal positions and get to the occupant of the throne and the object of ones faith.
    Otherwise, we run the risk of converting people from appealing to one list or belief system for salvation to another list… Without actually converting people from trusting in their own merit to the merits of Christ.
    Thanks for letting me chime in.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Tyler, thanks for your comment. I don’t disagree that salvation is key and that salvation is does not come from knowing enough or the correct doctrine. Salvation comes from a saving experience of Jesus Christ and participating in his life. The doctrinal question is important to this discussion because doctrinal formulae are how we sum up or sketch out what we believe about Jesus. Doctrine can be a loaded word, but that’s primarily what I mean by it here. Doctrine is just what we say about Jesus. That’s important because if we say things about Jesus that misidentify Jesus, then we likely do not have a saving experience of him.

  • Randy

    [Joel: Can you find "LDS" in this unusual web item? Randy]

    The Living River of History

    by Bruce Rockwell

    Can you name a meandering river which can affect the 2012 US Presidential election? I can. And are you aware, as I am, that a Presidential candidate can be influenced by a 19th century teenager’s occultic “revelations”?
    All humans are affected by the Living River of History. The “headwaters” of it was Adam, according to Judaism, Christianity, Islam and some other faiths.
    In the Old Testament (Deut. 28) we find that “tributaries” (those who choose to be part of this River) will be blessed while “distributaries” (those choosing to flow away from it) will be cursed. Those deciding to be totally disconnected from the fresh Living River soon find themselves in polluted, dying “oxbow lakes.”
    The OT period was notable for its fluidity: Israelites repeatedly flowing away from God and then repenting and returning back to Him numerous times; heathen “oxbow lakes” creating their own “gods” and being allowed by the true God to take into captivity the erring Israelites.
    Then, at the right moment, came the arrival of the only One who could fulfill all of the OT’s detailed predictions of a future Messiah, His arrival happening before the 70 AD destruction of the Jewish temple which contained records proving that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham – records that would be unavailable to anyone after 70 AD who might falsely claim to be the long awaited Promised One. The same timely arrival guaranteed that the Living River, led by the One who offers “living water,” would take on new life.
    Since the emergence in the 7th century of Islam – which drew greatly from both OT and NT, yet chose to be a distributary away from the River – many scholars have viewed it as the final “scourge” or Antichrist (note references like “Assyrian,” Euphrates,” “land of Nimrod” in Daniel, Micah, Revelation etc.).
    The end-time Islamic “scourge” will be allowed by God to temporarily persecute and purify Jews and Christians who have “fallen away” from their faiths. (Jews, especially those in entertainment, are more expert in apostasy than Christians since they’ve been at it 2000 years longer than Christians have – but Christians seem to want to catch up to the Jews!)
    I should add that Islam won’t play its predicted role all alone; it has more than enough oil money to “buy” leaders of foreign countries while at the same time bribing disloyal American leaders to turn against true American patriots.
    Re the occultic “revelations” by a 19th century teenager (above) – who heavily “appropriated” many King James Bible verses in order to create one of the most delusive distributaries of all time – see the internet which has tons of data on this religious innovation of 1830.
    Finally, if you ignore the God-ordained Living River of History or (much worse) try to destroy or even dilute it, you will be swept down it to an ocean made by your own never-ending tears of agony and despair!

  • Randy

    [Joel: Can you find "LDS" in this unusual web item? Randy]

    The Living River of History

    by Bruce Rockwell

    Can you name a meandering river which can affect the 2012 US Presidential election? I can. And are you aware, as I am, that a Presidential candidate can be influenced by a 19th century teenager’s occultic “revelations”?
    All humans are affected by the Living River of History. The “headwaters” of it was Adam, according to Judaism, Christianity, Islam and some other faiths.
    In the Old Testament (Deut. 28) we find that “tributaries” (those who choose to be part of this River) will be blessed while “distributaries” (those choosing to flow away from it) will be cursed. Those deciding to be totally disconnected from the fresh Living River soon find themselves in polluted, dying “oxbow lakes.”
    The OT period was notable for its fluidity: Israelites repeatedly flowing away from God and then repenting and returning back to Him numerous times; heathen “oxbow lakes” creating their own “gods” and being allowed by the true God to take into captivity the erring Israelites.
    Then, at the right moment, came the arrival of the only One who could fulfill all of the OT’s detailed predictions of a future Messiah, His arrival happening before the 70 AD destruction of the Jewish temple which contained records proving that Jesus was a descendant of Abraham – records that would be unavailable to anyone after 70 AD who might falsely claim to be the long awaited Promised One. The same timely arrival guaranteed that the Living River, led by the One who offers “living water,” would take on new life.
    Since the emergence in the 7th century of Islam – which drew greatly from both OT and NT, yet chose to be a distributary away from the River – many scholars have viewed it as the final “scourge” or Antichrist (note references like “Assyrian,” Euphrates,” “land of Nimrod” in Daniel, Micah, Revelation etc.).
    The end-time Islamic “scourge” will be allowed by God to temporarily persecute and purify Jews and Christians who have “fallen away” from their faiths. (Jews, especially those in entertainment, are more expert in apostasy than Christians since they’ve been at it 2000 years longer than Christians have – but Christians seem to want to catch up to the Jews!)
    I should add that Islam won’t play its predicted role all alone; it has more than enough oil money to “buy” leaders of foreign countries while at the same time bribing disloyal American leaders to turn against true American patriots.
    Re the occultic “revelations” by a 19th century teenager (above) – who heavily “appropriated” many King James Bible verses in order to create one of the most delusive distributaries of all time – see the internet which has tons of data on this religious innovation of 1830.
    Finally, if you ignore the God-ordained Living River of History or (much worse) try to destroy or even dilute it, you will be swept down it to an ocean made by your own never-ending tears of agony and despair!

  • Robert F. Bentley

    Dave Ramsey challenges his readers to drop their paradigms/belief systems just before he admonishes them to “dump their debt”. Likewise it may be necessary to drop paradigms in order to truly see the Christ that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) truly believe in.

    “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Dave’s advice here should not and cannot include dropping the universal teaching of the church since the apostles in order to give the Mormon Christ a chance. Jesus warned about false Christs, the apostles did the same, and the early bishops and leaders of the church vigorously worked to uphold the faith once for all delivered. Dropping that is unthinkable.

      • Robert Bentley

        I can see we may need to agree to disagree. If I understand you correctly, I as a Latter-day Saint cannot be called a true Christian because I reject the Nicene Creed.

        But I AM a Christian.

        I believe in Christ; he is my King!
        With all my heart to him I’ll sing;
        I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy,
        In grand amens my tongue employ.
        I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son.
        On earth to dwell his soul did come.
        He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
        Good works were his; his name be praised.

        -Elder Bruce R. McConkie

  • Robert F. Bentley

    Dave Ramsey challenges his readers to drop their paradigms/belief systems just before he admonishes them to “dump their debt”. Likewise it may be necessary to drop paradigms in order to truly see the Christ that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) truly believe in.

    “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Dave’s advice here should not and cannot include dropping the universal teaching of the church since the apostles in order to give the Mormon Christ a chance. Jesus warned about false Christs, the apostles did the same, and the early bishops and leaders of the church vigorously worked to uphold the faith once for all delivered. Dropping that is unthinkable.

      • Robert Bentley

        I can see we may need to agree to disagree. If I understand you correctly, I as a Latter-day Saint cannot be called a true Christian because I reject the Nicene Creed.

        But I AM a Christian.

        I believe in Christ; he is my King!
        With all my heart to him I’ll sing;
        I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy,
        In grand amens my tongue employ.
        I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son.
        On earth to dwell his soul did come.
        He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
        Good works were his; his name be praised.

        -Elder Bruce R. McConkie

        • UncleBucky

          Leaves out a lot. Most of this is vague enough to be true. More like red herring.

      • UncleBucky

        True, the Mormon Christ is a confection.

  • Tim Cooney

    A few points of clarification. The Mormons categorically reject “creedal” Christianity. To them, the creedal formulation of the faith represents the centuries of built up perversion. Your article is therefore benefitting to Christians but would be rejected by Mormons. Better to use the Bible with them to make your arguments, but even then, they only accept the King James as valid and only THEIR version of the KJV which has accumulated over 1,000 textual alterations initiated by Joseph Smith and carried on by his successors to this day. Their position is that the corrupt church corrupted the Bible as well and only the Mormon church has the now correct version. (Convenient for them!) Despite my apparent criticism of your article, I do appreciate your efforts to plainly show the differences that exist between Mormons & Christians. Mormonism is clearly not orthodox Christianity, but I would rely more on Biblicl text to make the argument rather than church creeds.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      I’m not concerned with convincing Mormons. They’ve got no reason to listen to me. I’m mostly concerned about Christians who don’t know the differences between our faiths and are (because of our widespread and growing culture of agreeableness) willing to invite Mormons to the table.

      I relied on the Creed because it’s a statement (the main statement) of what Christians believe, summarizing accurately the teaching of the church.

      You can do the same thing from the Bible itself, but think of the Creed as the dictionary that helps unpack the meanings of the words you’re reading in the Scripture.

    • UncleBucky

      No, not buying it. For years before Joe Smith stuck his head in a hat, Christians have, in spite of clergy arguments, defined the Faith in the Nicene Creed. I don’t believe it in all details myself, but I distrust Mormons, so I say that we don’t have to make the test the way Mormons want it, but rather the way it has been defined back to 392 CE.

  • http://papaharos.blogspot.com Father Athanasios C Haros

    I find it helpful to always keep in my mind that even satan believes Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word of God. In fact he knows the truth of it so much that it tortures him perpetually because he can’t have what Jesus has….Divinity! Just saying you believe in Jesus only puts in the same category as satan…we must live in communion with Him if that belief is to have any merit.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      A very good reminder. Thank you, Fr. Athanasios.

  • http://papaharos.blogspot.com Father Athanasios C Haros

    I find it helpful to always keep in my mind that even satan believes Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word of God. In fact he knows the truth of it so much that it tortures him perpetually because he can’t have what Jesus has….Divinity! Just saying you believe in Jesus only puts in the same category as satan…we must live in communion with Him if that belief is to have any merit.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      A very good reminder. Thank you, Fr. Athanasios.

  • Ryan

    I am a LDS member and your claim that Mormons believe God had sex with Mary is completely false. The rest of your article and most of the comments are just more of the same rhetoric we hear from anti-Mormons all the time, nothing new. All we do as LDS members is try to be good representatives of Christs church. The best part of this argument is that you have to change the definition of “Christian” for your point to be made and I doubt you have the authority to do that.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Ryan,

      You should read your own writings more.

      “The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood — was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8.115-116).

      Sounds like sex to me.

      I’m not trying to be crass here. I’m just saying that’s not Christianity. And I’m not changing any definitions. I’m employing them.

    • UncleBucky

      Not buying it.

    • http://christian-truths2.blogspot.com/ Kiwi Christian

      “Christ was begotten of God. He was NOT born without the aid of man and that man was God!” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1:18)

    • http://christian-truths2.blogspot.com/ Kiwi Christian

      “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pg.7).

    • http://christian-truths2.blogspot.com/ Kiwi Christian

      “[Jesus Christ] was willing to make payment because of his great love for mankind, and he was able to make payment because he lived a sinless life and because he was actually, literally, biologically the Son of God in the flesh” (Messages for Exaltation, pp.378-379).

    • http://christian-truths2.blogspot.com/ Kiwi Christian

      “God, the Father of our spirits, became the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh …The fleshly body of Jesus required a Mother as well as a Father. Therefore, the Father and Mother of Jesus, according to the flesh, must have been associated together in the capacity of Husband and Wife; hence the Virgin Mary must have, for the time being, the lawful wife of God the Father …He had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary in the capacity of a husband, and beget a Son, although she was espoused to another; for the law which He gave to govern men and women, was not intended to govern Himself, or to prescribe rules for his own conduct” (The Seer, Orson Pratt, pg. 158).

    • http://christian-truths2.blogspot.com/ Kiwi Christian

      “The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers” (Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young, 8:115).

  • Ryan

    I am a LDS member and your claim that Mormons believe God had sex with Mary is completely false. The rest of your article and most of the comments are just more of the same rhetoric we hear from anti-Mormons all the time, nothing new. All we do as LDS members is try to be good representatives of Christs church. The best part of this argument is that you have to change the definition of “Christian” for your point to be made and I doubt you have the authority to do that.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Ryan,

      You should read your own writings more.

      “The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood — was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8.115-116).

      Sounds like sex to me.

      I’m not trying to be crass here. I’m just saying that’s not Christianity. And I’m not changing any definitions. I’m employing them.

  • Nicholas de Burgo

    Not being a Christian I find the above discussions very interesting. What I understand is this. If you believe the doctrine that was handed down by a meeting of people in the church (Nicene Creed), you are a Christian. If you do not, you are not a Christian. Whether the Creed has any truth value does not seem important. I would use the same argument for the Mormons. If you believe our doctrine, you are a true Christian. If you do not, you are not. Still nothing refers to any truth value. If Jesus the Rabbi said “love one another” you can run that through your head and in the end you can decide that it does in deed have truth value. The truth value stands on its own whether Jesus the Rabbi said it or someone else said it. I suppose that is why I cannot be a Christian (or a Mormon).

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      I wouldn’t break it down so simply. If we’re just talking about competing truth claims, then we’re at a dead end before we begin.

      More useful than an argument is an experience. God rewards those who seek him. I think if you were to pray with utter sincerity that God would reveal himself to you as he truly is, you’d be further along than parsing arguments. I offer that with the purest intention. We should all pray for that.

    • http://papahaross.blogspot.com Father Athanasios C Haros

      Nicholas, you make a comment in regard to truth…
      “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for he will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16.13-15)

      The Holy Spirit guided the CHURCH into all truth. It is therefore not posssible that the CHURCH is in error in formulating truth so long as the CHURCH never alters the teachings of the Holy Apostles.

      “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (2 Thess 2.15)

      • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

        Amen.

      • UncleBucky

        Those groups that significantly change the teachings of the Apostles, and whose doctrine does not jibe with the Nicene Creed are not Christians. Also, those groups who SAY they believe the Nicene Creed, but use the Christian faith as a weapon to hurt Christians and others, are “christianISTs”, more dangerous than the worst character portrayed in the NT.

  • AnonTruthSeeker

    You do realize that the creed itself is added on after the fact mostly at the attempted reconciling of Christianity with Greek/Roman Philosophy instead of using sacred text itself as evidence, and in fact the Bible WAS altered in phrases after the fact to support it. Perversion of the truth seems to be an area that Christianity is an expert in by adding phrases onto verses later which would not have made sense in the original greek.

    In the texts it shows Christ as having free will(thus mortal in this regard much like the second adam foretold in the old testament), receiving the holy spirit in his baptism by John the Baptist (may I add in the entirety of the bible this is one of the few times we DO see the father, son, and holy spirit in one place at one time not counting those alterations), spreading the Gospel, living a sinless life, being crucified by Pilate, and then being resurrected three days later. He fulfilled the Abrahamic Covenant for us. Subordinationism was the original creed of the church until AD 325. If I’m not mistaken the LDS church follows this creed.

    Also, if this was the original creed and the new creed was incompatible to the point they had to try to reconcile Christianity with Greek philosophy to ‘fix’ it by altering the Bible itself…which one was really broken? If there was a Great Apostasy, it may very well have stemmed from this by all points. We see leaders like Saul who later do bad things and get replaced, and even apostles who had a hand in the betrayal of Christ. Is it that far fetched to believe that Joseph Smith didn’t also suffer from some of the problems that Saul didn’t as well or some of the early leaders until you reach the stabilization of the LDS church to where it is today? Has not the word of God also said about the trials and tribulations in end times. I believe you’d be hard pressed to find many Christians today that don’t believe they are living in end times. The LDS Church does believe in the fundamental Christian teachings of the Bible while adding the Book of Mormon. I inquire you to look carefully about the plank in your own eye, before pointing out the plank in another’s.

  • AnonTruthSeeker

    You do realize that the creed itself is added on after the fact mostly at the attempted reconciling of Christianity with Greek/Roman Philosophy instead of using sacred text itself as evidence, and in fact the Bible WAS altered in phrases after the fact to support it. Perversion of the truth seems to be an area that Christianity is an expert in by adding phrases onto verses later which would not have made sense in the original greek.

    In the texts it shows Christ as having free will(thus mortal in this regard much like the second adam foretold in the old testament), receiving the holy spirit in his baptism by John the Baptist (may I add in the entirety of the bible this is one of the few times we DO see the father, son, and holy spirit in one place at one time not counting those alterations), spreading the Gospel, living a sinless life, being crucified by Pilate, and then being resurrected three days later. He fulfilled the Abrahamic Covenant for us. Subordinationism was the original creed of the church until AD 325. If I’m not mistaken the LDS church follows this creed.

    Also, if this was the original creed and the new creed was incompatible to the point they had to try to reconcile Christianity with Greek philosophy to ‘fix’ it by altering the Bible itself…which one was really broken? If there was a Great Apostasy, it may very well have stemmed from this by all points. We see leaders like Saul who later do bad things and get replaced, and even apostles who had a hand in the betrayal of Christ. Is it that far fetched to believe that Joseph Smith didn’t also suffer from some of the problems that Saul didn’t as well or some of the early leaders until you reach the stabilization of the LDS church to where it is today? Has not the word of God also said about the trials and tribulations in end times. I believe you’d be hard pressed to find many Christians today that don’t believe they are living in end times. The LDS Church does believe in the fundamental Christian teachings of the Bible while adding the Book of Mormon. I inquire you to look carefully about the plank in your own eye, before pointing out the plank in another’s.

  • B boy333

    The idea of Mormons being not Christian is a right wing attack at a person with a different belief then the one writing this article. Do you even know truly what the Mormon faith believes. Have you ever even searched the doctrine of the church or ask missionaries questions? No, you just dig and pry and take to only opinion you can come up with. Search and pray and you will find. If you aren’t willing to pick up a Book of Mormon and pray to God and ask about it then you have no right to say yes or no to the subject above. You want to look at something funny! Study the nicene creed and you will find out that it was a bunch of men that came together to try and come to a conclusion of what to believe. The claimed no authority, Devine power, or counsel to make there decisions. We claim authority, we claim the power behind God, we ask you to find out through prayer not mans interpretation of the scriptures to see what is true. If you take any form of religion and you don’t pray and ask God about its truth, then you deny his counsel and remember he will let you know what decision to make when it comes to his truth, not mans. He is eternal, he is the Father!

  • B boy333

    The idea of Mormons being not Christian is a right wing attack at a person with a different belief then the one writing this article. Do you even know truly what the Mormon faith believes. Have you ever even searched the doctrine of the church or ask missionaries questions? No, you just dig and pry and take to only opinion you can come up with. Search and pray and you will find. If you aren’t willing to pick up a Book of Mormon and pray to God and ask about it then you have no right to say yes or no to the subject above. You want to look at something funny! Study the nicene creed and you will find out that it was a bunch of men that came together to try and come to a conclusion of what to believe. The claimed no authority, Devine power, or counsel to make there decisions. We claim authority, we claim the power behind God, we ask you to find out through prayer not mans interpretation of the scriptures to see what is true. If you take any form of religion and you don’t pray and ask God about its truth, then you deny his counsel and remember he will let you know what decision to make when it comes to his truth, not mans. He is eternal, he is the Father!

  • John Catlin

    Brother Miller,
    As a Protestant child, I was always confused about God being a “Big Fuzzy”, that is, He was ‘here, there, and everywhere’. I was also confused how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost), could all ocupy one body. I finally gave up and assumed God would reveal the truth to me eventually.
    I knew nothing of the Catholic’s politically-inspired First Council of Nicea, wherein there were only two disenters in the final disposition of approximatly 220 Bishops. There were only two disenters, disenters who believed in the opinion put forth by Arius (he who believed God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Ghost were three separate and distinct beings.) 218 Bishops all agreeing to the same thing? Sounds like a political convention and a bunch of Catholic politicians to me. How many actual ballots were there?
    Imagine my surprise when I heard of a Church that clarified it for me.
    That Church was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints(The Mormons).
    Has anyone of you who constantly deride Mormons (who are adherent to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,) ever wondered why God did away with Prophets. If it was good enough for Israel and the Jews, why are we denied a Prophet? The Roman Catholic Church,–while Christians– deny many natural things peculiar to Man, e.g., Priests who do not marry?
    As much as I admire the Catholic Church and my friends therein, I simply cannot adhere to a confusing decision reached in a politcial convention almost 2000 years ago. It would appear the Bishops simply gave up and said “I agree with whatever you say, all I want to do is go home.”
    Best wishes,
    John Catlin

  • John Catlin

    Brother Miller,
    As a Protestant child, I was always confused about God being a “Big Fuzzy”, that is, He was ‘here, there, and everywhere’. I was also confused how God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost), could all ocupy one body. I finally gave up and assumed God would reveal the truth to me eventually.
    I knew nothing of the Catholic’s politically-inspired First Council of Nicea, wherein there were only two disenters in the final disposition of approximatly 220 Bishops. There were only two disenters, disenters who believed in the opinion put forth by Arius (he who believed God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Ghost were three separate and distinct beings.) 218 Bishops all agreeing to the same thing? Sounds like a political convention and a bunch of Catholic politicians to me. How many actual ballots were there?
    Imagine my surprise when I heard of a Church that clarified it for me.
    That Church was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints(The Mormons).
    Has anyone of you who constantly deride Mormons (who are adherent to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,) ever wondered why God did away with Prophets. If it was good enough for Israel and the Jews, why are we denied a Prophet? The Roman Catholic Church,–while Christians– deny many natural things peculiar to Man, e.g., Priests who do not marry?
    As much as I admire the Catholic Church and my friends therein, I simply cannot adhere to a confusing decision reached in a politcial convention almost 2000 years ago. It would appear the Bishops simply gave up and said “I agree with whatever you say, all I want to do is go home.”
    Best wishes,
    John Catlin

  • http://www.judson.edu pseudofulgentius

    Relativism = “I’m ok, you’re ok, we’re all ok” (all of us, that is, except non-relativists)

  • W. Woody Dew

    If you believe Jesus was God, then you too believe God was once a man.
    As for how Jesus became God, read “When Jesus became God,” by Richard E. Rubenstein. Apparently, the resolution was a political decision (decided by street thugs) & not a religious one. Had supporters of Arius been better street fighters, the creed may’ve gone the other way.

    Plus, the Mormons have the better side of the argument. Throughout the Bible, Jesus makes reference to his father. Here are a few:
    My God, My God, why have you forsaken me, (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
    Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
    Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).
    Did Jesus have a split personality? Or was he suffering from amnesia? Did he actually forget for a few moments that he was God?

  • Al Fundament

    Mormons, Christians, & Muslims have similar foundational traditions (i.e., they are based on miraculous visits from heavenly beings):
    1. On the Road to Damascus, Jesus supposedly spoke to the Apostle Paul (who did not know the living Jesus, unless he had participated in his crucifixion) where he revealed the true meanings & purposes of Christianity (things Jesus had never told his other apostles).
    2. The Angel Gabriel supposedly visited Mohammed in a cave, where he revealed God’s will.
    3. The Angel Moroni supposedly visited Joseph Smith and showed him where inscribed golden plates were buried. Smith was able to translate the inscriptions that furthered Smith’s understandings of God’s will.

  • http://christian-truths2.blogspot.com/ Kiwi Christian

    False mormon prophecies. Doctrine & Covenants 87:1-6, Dec. 25, 1832),Doctrine & Covenants 84:1-5; Sept. 1832,Doctrine & Covenants 114:1; April 17, 1838,Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 17-18

  • http://christian-truths2.blogspot.com/ Kiwi Christian

    In July of 1835, an Irishman named Michael Chandler brought an exhibit of four Egyptian mummies and papyri to Kirtland, Ohio, then the home of the Mormons. The papyri contained Egyptian hieroglyphics. In 1835 hieroglyphics were unreadable.

    As Prophet and Seer of the Church, Joseph Smith was given permission to look at the papyri scrolls in the exhibit and to everyone’s shock, revealed that “one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt.”1 The Church bought the exhibit for $2400. Joseph finished the translation of the Book of Abraham some time later, but the book of Joseph was never translated. The papyri were lost soon afterwards and thought to have been destroyed in a fire in Chicago in 1871. There was, therefore, no way to validate Joseph’s translation. If the papyri were re-discovered and translated it would either prove or disprove the abilities of Joseph as a prophet of God. After all, he was supposed to be a prophet and have the abilities of a Seer as the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham supposedly proved.

    In October of 1880 The Pearl of Great Price, a collection of writings, which contained the book of Abraham, was recognized as scripture by the Mormon Church.

    To every one’s surprise, in 1966 the papyri were rediscovered in one of the vault rooms of the New York’s metropolitan Museum of Art. The Deseret News of Salt Lake City on Nov. 27, 1967 acknowledged the rediscovery of the papyri. On the back of the papyri were “drawings of a temple and maps of the Kirtland, Ohio area.”2 There could be no doubt that this was the original document from which Joseph Smith translated the book of Abraham.

    With the papyri rediscovered and Egyptian hieroglyphics decipherable since the late 1800′s, it would then be an easy task of translating the papyri and proving once and for all that Joseph Smith was a prophet with the gift of “Seer” as he and the Mormon church have claimed. This would then prove the truth of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham and would vindicate Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God.

  • http://christian-truths2.blogspot.com/ Kiwi Christian

    “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the Children of men, that they may not call scripture!” Bringham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, page 95. “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will ALWAYS be so.” Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110.

    ” . . . after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham’s wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation a upon a the earth as well as God;…. ” Journal of Discourses, Volume 22, page 304.

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  • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

    Tyler, thanks for your comment. I don’t disagree that salvation is key and that salvation is does not come from knowing enough or the correct doctrine. Salvation comes from a saving experience of Jesus Christ and participating in his life. The doctrinal question is important to this discussion because doctrinal formulae are how we sum up or sketch out what we believe about Jesus. Doctrine can be a loaded word, but that’s primarily what I mean by it here. Doctrine is just what we say about Jesus. That’s important because if we say things about Jesus that misidentify Jesus, then we likely do not have a saving experience of him.

  • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

    It’s not hard at all. The Nicene Creed summarizes what Christians believe. If someone doesn’t believe it, the comparison is already made. Mormons teach that God had sex with Mary; that’s not what Christians believe (she’s a virgin). Mormons teach, as you say, that “Jesus is the first born of Heavenly Father’s spirit children”; Christians believe that Jesus is the only-born of the Father and that he is of the same essence with the father–all other created beings are of a different essence. God has no other spirit children like Jesus or of the same substance as Jesus. To say that Jesus is first or merely only-begotten in the flesh is to speak of another Jesus than the one Christians confess.

    The Nicene Creed was the result of bishops of the entire church meeting to confront the heresy of Arianism (which incidentally, has features similar to Mormonism). Just like the council in Jerusalem we read about it Acts, this council of bishops had authority to speak as the church and for the church after their decree was universally accepted by the church. It was not a mere collection of men. It was the church gathering as church to discuss and define crucial matters about its understanding of the savior. And that is why Christians have confessed it ever since it was formulated and why if someone doesn’t confess it they cannot be considered Christian.

    The Creed represents the orthodox understanding of the gospel as handed down in Scripture and tradition. To keep using the words without the orthodox understanding is meaningless. For instance, you say Mormons believe in the divinity of Jesus. Great. But is that divinity consubstantial (or of the same essence) with the Father’s divinity? Not if you’re a Mormon. Ergo, Mormon’s aren’t Christians.

  • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

    I’m not concerned with convincing Mormons. They’ve got no reason to listen to me. I’m mostly concerned about Christians who don’t know the differences between our faiths and are (because of our widespread and growing culture of agreeableness) willing to invite Mormons to the table.

    I relied on the Creed because it’s a statement (the main statement) of what Christians believe, summarizing accurately the teaching of the church.

    You can do the same thing from the Bible itself, but think of the Creed as the dictionary that helps unpack the meanings of the words you’re reading in the Scripture.

  • Nicholas de Burgo

    I am not a Christian now but I did study Christianity as a young man in college. I also spent some time reading the Book of Mormon. In my humble and maybe not professional opinion Mormons are not Christians. They may be off shoots of Christianity but in no way are Christians. Their doctrine is totally different and at odds with any Christian doctrine. I am sorry to say this because I have a brother who is Mormon. I do not think though this has anything to do with them being good people or bad people. There are good and bad in all religions. I just think though they are not being truthful and maybe they are worried that Christians will not treat them fairly. Opinions from anyone.

  • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

    I wouldn’t break it down so simply. If we’re just talking about competing truth claims, then we’re at a dead end before we begin.

    More useful than an argument is an experience. God rewards those who seek him. I think if you were to pray with utter sincerity that God would reveal himself to you as he truly is, you’d be further along than parsing arguments. I offer that with the purest intention. We should all pray for that.

  • http://papahaross.blogspot.com Father Athanasios C Haros

    Nicholas, you make a comment in regard to truth…
    “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for he will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16.13-15)

    The Holy Spirit guided the CHURCH into all truth. It is therefore not posssible that the CHURCH is in error in formulating truth so long as the CHURCH never alters the teachings of the Holy Apostles.

    “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (2 Thess 2.15)

  • Urwrong

    Go Mormons. And they are Christians great people and are loving to all other christian churches. Love Christ and know he is the savior.

  • Urwrong

    Mormons are good christians

  • Urwrong

    Yes they are. The appropriate name isThe Church of Jeseus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mormons are christians.

  • Urwrong

    Mormons are christains

  • nathan

    how then do you explain that mormons teach that God has a body of flesh? The BIBLE, which is His only word, says that he does not. if you teach something different than what the Bible teaches, you are no longer a christian. i know you treat people the same as us and are a lot of you nice, but so are bhuddists and hindus and other religions out there. it doesn’t make them christians. if only people would look at the doctrines of what they believe rather than just blindly accept what people tell them….

  • W. Woody Dew

    Did Jesus have Mary’s DNA mixed with God’s?


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