Who Do You Say That I Am? Mormons and the Christ

NOTE:  I wrote this column at the invitation of Chris Henrichsen, who blogs at the Mormon Portal here at Patheos.  This is part of a Roundtable discussion on “Are Mormons Christian?”

First, a word of praise:  Mormons are good citizens.  They are persons of good conscience, and are supportive of strong family values.  Catholics and Mormons, as the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted in its 2001 statement on Mormon baptism,

“…often find themselves working together on a range of problems regarding the common goal of the entire human race.  It can be hoped therefore that through further studies, dialogue and good will, there can be progress in reciprocal understanding and mutual respect.”

But are Mormons Christian?  In a word:  No.

Taylor Petrey, writing on the Mormon Portal at Patheos, makes a different claim.  As evidence that Mormons should be counted among Christians, Petrey cites the “Christus” statue by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, which was displayed at the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Queens, New York, and the revision of the church’s logo in 1996 to feature the words “Jesus Christ” more than twice the size of the other words in the name (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

As further proof of Mormons’ inclusion in Christian circles, Petrey cites 19th century Lutheran theologian Adolf von Harnack, who claimed in his volume What Is Christianity? that there is no single definition of Christianity.  For von Harnack, Christianity is whatever you say it is.

I respectfully disagree.

Words have meaning; and if anything can mean whatever you want it to mean, then nothing can have any lasting meaning at all, and attempts at communication are futile.

In the Gospel of Matthew, as Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples,   “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 

The apostles responded:  “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  

So Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?”

It was Simon Peter, the blustering fisherman, who answered confidently, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered him,

“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” 

Matthew 16:  13-18

The thing is, the question of WHO JESUS IS is a singularly important question for all of us. 

Christians know that Jesus is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. With Father and the Holy Spirit, He has existed eternally.

The great Jesuit theologian Fr. John Hardon explained,

“The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the most fundamental of our faith. On it everything else depends and from it everything else derives. Hence the Church’s constant concern to safeguard the revealed truth that God is One in nature and Three in Persons.”

Mormons believe, however, that the Trinity “are not the three persons in which subsists the one Godhead, but three gods who form one divinity.  One is different from the other, even though they exist in perfect harmony” (L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, Aug. 1, 2001, page 4).

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith continues their comparison:

“In Mormon belief, God the Father was once a mortal man from another planet who, through a series of progressions, achieved divinity.  He and his wife, the heavenly mother, share the responsibility of creation and have sons in the spiritual world.  Their firstborn son, Jesus Christ, equal to man, “has acquired his divinity in a pre-mortal existence.  Even the Holy Spirit is the son of heavenly parents.  The Son and the Holy Spirit were procreated after the beginning of the creation of the world known to us.”

So if words mean SOMETHING, and cannot at the same time mean SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, then no, the Christ of the Mormon faith is not the Christ of the Christian faith.

And no, Mormons are not Christians.

  • Lydia

    Their beliefs are interesting – that is why Mormon baptism is not valid in the Catholic Church. You would need to be re-baptized. A distant cousin of my husband, who is a very active Mormon, though without Temple privileges (to get a temple “recommend” and have the ability to enter a Mormon temple you must tithe 10% of your gross income the year before) told me that they believe that if you attain perfection like Jesus did, you too can become a God and receive your own planet. This was confirmed for me by a friend who grew up in a Mormon household but is now protestant. This link tells more about it, though not perfectly. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101004114300AA29ZCV

    Also, Mormons are really into genealogy and have done immense good in record keeping for genealogy research. Their Salt Lake City library has vast info for this and they were in the forefront of the movement for people to trace their ancestors. The reason for this is so that you can find who your ancestors are and baptize them. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism_for_the_dead) says “Baptism for the dead is best known as a doctrine of the Latter Day Saint movement, which has practiced it since 1840. It is currently practiced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), where it is performed only in dedicated temples, as well as in several (but not all) other current factions of the Latter-day Saint movement. Those who practice this rite view baptism as an indispensable requirement to enter the Kingdom of God, and thus practice Baptism for the Dead to give those who have died without ever having had the opportunity to receive baptism the opportunity to receive it by proxy. The LDS Church teaches that those who have died may choose to accept or reject the baptism done on their behalf.

    They say they believe Jesus saves them but they have many other “interesting” practices that don’t correspond to Christianity.

    • bytebear

      Mormons wouldn’t ever say they become gods with their own planets. At least not in those terms. That’s just sensationalism. They do believe the BIble when it says they will become perfect, and that they will inherit the kingdom of God, and share His throne, and become like Jesus. What does that mean to you? What does inheriting the throne of God imply? I don’t think other denominations put much effort into it, and really neither do Mormons, but their critics sure like to make it out to be more than Mormons do.

      As for Baptism for the dead, it’s interesting that the practice did exist in New Testament times by Christian groups. It certainly solves the issue of unbaptized souls going to hell without an opportunity to be baptized.

      • Dan

        But to baptise the dead is to take away the freedom of choice involved in baptism. A Mother is guardian to her child and has the authority as a Mother to do what is best for her child. But you would not force baptism on a person. Equally you deny the judgement of God but attempting to change a person’s standing with post-baptism. This is very wrong, blasphemy i think.

        • bytebear

          No, according to Mormon theology, it’s still up to the individual to accept the ordinance. Similar to how a child is baptized without consent, but at catechism accepts it for themselves. I see no difference.

          Nice save on infant baptism on your edit though. Props.

          • Dan

            When do the dead accept ordinance? a Mother has authority because she is the mother. She participated in the creation of the child and is given the authority therefore. She can choose baptism, but when the child grows he needs to confirm the baptism. This cannot work the other way round.

            a tree grows out passing on its self from one branch to the next. it doesn’t grow backwards, if that makes sense?

          • bytebear

            Mormonism teaches that the dead, prior to the ressurection and judgement are in a place called Spirit Prison and can still hear the message of Christ and accept his atonement, and as spirits accept a proxy baptism.

            Some verses to consider:

            John 5:25
            Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

            1 Peter 3
            18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
            19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
            20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

            1 Peter 4
            6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

            Mormons also believe they are fulfilling prophecy and warning:

            Malachi 4
            5 ¶Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:

            6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

          • Dan

            We cannot just throw verses out, we have to know what John is trying to say. We have to know what Peter is trying to say. Their words loses meaning when they lose context, when we neglect the people behind those words. Intepretation is useless without grounding in the history of the scriptures.

          • bytebear

            I agree. We can certainly discuss the verses in detail. I won’t try to change your interpretation, but understand that Mormons very strongly believe and can show that there is Biblical precedence to their beliefs and practices.

          • Dan

            Yes you propably can. The question is “is that interpretation correct?” and history has shown that the catholics are right.

            I would say “try and change ‘my’ interpretation”. In fact you must, Christ said “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. The truth is Christ and so the right answer is so important for either to get right. It is only through civil yet frank dialogue we can reach the truth. But this is not the space for such disscussions. But we must all be reserching and be honest in our such for the truth that Christ spoke of. What is true leads one to Christ.

          • bytebear

            The truth is revealed by the Holy Ghost, not through tradition or history. If it were not so, the Pharisees and Jews were right in their criticism of Christ. Ultimately you as an individual need to receive an answer from God, regardless of tradition or history.

          • Dan

            right, but Christ lived, died and rose. God was present with his people, the israelites, in the beginning and still is. And so the Holy Spirt is in tradition, and in the present. The we must look to the Saints who had the Sprit flowing through them, we can look at what God taught his people in history and further understand his will. God can lead a person by directing him actively or leaving a tradition for him to follow. Do not disregard history and tradtion so lightly. As an american, history and tradition play an important part of you life, as it is with my and my Englishness. Sure the Kingdom of God contained some of recieved word before we came along?

          • bytebear

            But you can’t simply rely on tradition and history for truth. The scriptures have ample evidence of times when God corrects mankind when they go astray. But, again it’s up to the individual to find truth.

            Interestingly, the verse prior to Jesus giving the keys of the kingdom to Peter, he says “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Peter knew the truth, not through history, or tradition, or even the words of Jesus, but from God the Father (i.e. spiritual revelation)

          • Dan

            Yes, and that is what the Pope does today. we talking about emphisis. Which is greater, tradition or revelation? neither they are both to be used by God. But God alone. when we try to make decisions on God ourselves we get it wrong and Peter is reminded of (i think) later in the passage “get behind me satan” he gets it right and wrong. And we are told how and why. But history is a teacher, and God is history for all things come from the Father and so all things tell of his glory. The fact we use a Bible is the use of Tradition and history, for that is what the Bible is.

  • Dale

    erm….wow.

    I am glad that the Mormon Portal is willing to undertake such a difficult topic, and that they are finding contributors from other faith traditions who are able to lend their perspective. I hope the discussion, both here and in the other Patheos blogs, will remain sensitive and charitable.

    I wonder if there is a need to make a distinction between the theological response and the social response? According to a theology followed by some Protestants, Catholics are not Christians. Obviously, we Catholics strongly disagree and are even offended by the claim when it confronts us in day to day conversations. I imagine that Mormons often feel the same way when encountering individuals who deny them Christian status.

    There are times when the distinctions of theology are important: educating the young, during the performance of marriage, baptism or other sacraments, etc. But I wonder if such distinctions are always important to put forward in day to day life. I would be offended if someone stated that Rick Santorum was not a Christian because he was Catholic. Surely Mormons would be just as offended if someone stated that Mitt Romney was not Christian, because he belonged to the LDS. So how are the theological distinctions which separate us relevant in the public square? Do such distinctions only matter at a private level?

    • Dan

      no, did Christ Die in private? Did our martyed Saints die in private? did our missionaries wisper the word of God to new lands? Theology is not a matter for ones private life but is the foundation of all things regarding us both inturnally and exturnally. If someone challenges the divinity of Christ we must correct them, even unto death, like the saints. It is through dialogue that the Holy Spirt can convert and save souls through us. Don’t be afraid of hurting someones feelings, when the ultimate goal is saving their soul.

  • Auden Lasso

    The Mormon religion has a few similarities with Scientology but only a few!

  • Jimbo

    It appears that you’ve successfully misrepresented (or, perhaps a bit more generously, misunderstood) Taylor Petrey, Adolf von Harnack, and Mormonism itself in order to “prove” your point. That’s quite a feat.

  • Dale

    As Kathy mentioned, her article was written at the request of the editor of the Mormon Portal, here at Patheos. The editor is soliciting replies from multiple perspectives in answer to the question “Are Mormons Christian?”

    Links to the various replies are being posted on the following page:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/2013/09/22/are-mormons-christians-a-blog-round-table/

  • MeanLizzie

    I don’t know enough about Mormons to say much, but the teaching that a marriage on earth is “sealed” and eternal has always bothered me b/c it directly contradicts Jesus’ teaching.

    • bytebear

      I think it comes down to interpretation. For example, how do you reconcile 1 Timothy 3:2?

    • peter_marlow

      When I think of God’s goodness, I am reminded of what Paul taught the Ephesians, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

      How beautiful! But what is this “fullness of God” of which we might each be filled, even with “all” of it? And what is this “family in heaven” Paul mentions? In the Bible we find some hints of what he means. In Psalm 82:6 the Lord says, “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” This is amazing! And this is even taught again in these same words by the Lord Jesus Christ in the Bible in John 10:34.

      Is God really this wonderful? Has he provided that we all might be brought together as one great eternal family in heaven, of which God is literally our Father, each generation eternally bound and sealed to the one before? Can families really be forever – and marriage, too?

      The Lord makes this promise in Mormon scripture in Doctrine and Covenants section 2: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.”

      This was the first published revelation given by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith in these latter days, in 1823, when the prophet was just 17 years old. I believe it describes the ultimate purpose of the priesthood of God: to bind our families together forever.

      And when understood in connection with the priesthood power and authority the Lord gives to His apostle Peter, as found in Matthew 16:18-19, everything starts to become clear. The Lord tells Peter, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

      I would like to share with you some wonderful news. Through living prophets and apostles on the earth today, called and ordained by Jesus Christ just as in times of old, this authority is once again found on the earth. Yes, if they are bound, or “sealed” as we call it today, by this same priesthood authority given by the Lord to His apostle, marriage and families can be eternal. God does love us this much. God wants to give us the most wonderful things we could ever hope for, and more, even beyond our ability to hope or imagine.

      Let’s look more closely at marriage. For almost 2,000 years, the rest of the Christian world has misunderstood the concept of marriage. Every other sect and creed has assumed incorrectly that marriage always was, is, and will be, a temporary arrangement. They say, “Until death do you part.” It’s such a sad thing to include in a pronouncement of marriage – sad to man and sad to God. How can they celebrate after hearing these words? This decree of automatic divorce at death is the invention of men. It is not of God.

      How could there have been any confusion? I understand that the Lord taught in Mark 12:25, “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.” But in that instance, though He was pointing out that marriages are not performed in heaven – that they must be entered into here on earth, he was primarily speaking of the lesser law of marriage given through Moses, a law He came to fulfill with a higher law, as He did many of the other laws of Moses, such as animal sacrifice. What is this higher law? The new and everlasting covenant of eternal marriage and eternal families He gave when He authorized Peter to bind whatsoever thing on earth such that it shall also be bound in heaven.

      That marriage was meant to be eternal the Lord clearly teaches in Matthew 19:8, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” And in Mark 10:9, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Yet the rest of the world continues to insist that a marriage must end at the death of a spouse. They put it asunder, almost as if we have no hope of life beyond the grave.

      Paul understood that marriage is eternal. As an apostle, he held that same priesthood authority as Peter to bind in heaven by binding first on earth. He taught in 1st Corinthians 11:11, “… neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”

      The Lord makes the meaning of Paul’s words clear in modern revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In D&C 131:1-4, “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood, meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.”

      This means that unless a man and a woman are married for eternity by one holding this Priesthood authority to bind on earth such that it shall remain bound in heaven, the man is without the woman and the woman is without the man – not married nor given in marriage. They may be saved, but neither will be able to enter into the third and highest heaven of God’s celestial glory. (Incidentally, Paul also speaks of this third heaven in the Bible, in 2nd Corinthians 12:2.)

      The Lord explains all this in greater detail in modern revelation, in D&C 132, starting at verses 12-20, which I recommend that you find and study.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Mormonism sounds like a pagan formulation.

    • perpper

      Some analysts believe it was a case of combining elements of Christianity with Masonry and odd elements of Old Testament weirdness — e.g. the twelve oxen of the Mormon baptistry.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        Thanks.

  • perpper

    I live in Utah, the heart of Mormon hegemony. Here we have Mormonism, not only as one flavor of religion, but as the way of life envisioned by Joseph Smith et al, missing only the element of polygamy.

    I have learned this:
    “Words have meaning; and if anything can mean whatever
    you want it to mean, then nothing can have any lasting meaning at all,
    and attempts at communication are futile.”

    Yes yes and more yes. Mormons use traditional Christian vocabulary in their religion, but they mean very different things by the words they use. If you engage a Mormon in conversation about faith, you might think you’re going along agreeing well, but you’re not. You’re using the same words to mean two different things. This is the case throughout their theology.

    Are devout Mormons good Christian-like people? Living a life worthy of any good Christian? Yes many are. They lack outreach, however, which was shown in stark illumination to me when my family endured a crushing medical crisis and all the neighborhood Mormons did to help us was bring me 6 meals. And the man who delivered one of those meals (why not the wife?) made a pass at me — while my husband was in the hospital unable to speak or move. Nice. One woman told me “I work at home and have a flexible schedule so call me anytime you need help.” I did call to ask her to drop my son off at school (2 miles away) when I had to be elsewhere due to medical appointments — she refused, saying she was too busy. This happened twice before I realized the offer had never been genuine. The rest of the neighborhood ignored us entirely, though our need had been brought to them by our wonderful next-door-neighbors. So just because Mormons are in good standing with their own people, does not make them what I would call good Christians. Even the best of them are very inward-focused.

    Great for them, not so much for others. Personally, I prefer the Catholic way of serving others, all others, regardless of affiliations. That’s what Christ did, after all. Woman at the well, and all that.

  • Joel Hardy

    You are correct if you mean that Mormons don’t belong to the traditional group of Christian faiths. They never have been nor do they ever want to be. Their core doctrines are too different from those of traditional Christianity. However because of who they worship (Jesus Christ) they still must nevertheless be labeled christians. I am a Mormon and believe that I am as christian as anyone can be. Although I do not want to be identified as a “Christian” (Capital C), I do still consider myself as being christian (little c). Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and salvation comes only through Him and nothing else.

    • Dan

      But to be christian or Christian in any sense requires one to listen to Jesus and “Follow him” which Mormonism does not.

      • bytebear

        You’re going to have to be specific, because Mormons most definitely believe they are listening to Jesus and following Him.

        • Dan

          Well, let me ask you a question, who is Jesus? Is he the
          Messiah? And what does Messiah mean?

          What is marriage? What is Mary? what is the Church (big C) ? what is the Kingdom?

          you are right of course, Mormons will have theirs authority on scripture, and
          Catholic Christian’s have theirs. Am I right in thinking we have the same
          bible?

          • bytebear

            Our Bibles are somewhat different, in that Mormons generally use the King James Version for their English translation, and although they don’t reject the Apocrypha, they don’t include it in their canon. But Mormons don’t reject other translations but believe that the original words and meanings of the prophets are more important than the translation. Ultimately authority comes from God through the church’s prophet. Similarly, I presume the Pope has authority to interpret the will of God and declare interpretation of doctrine. From an authoritative standpoint, Mormons and Catholics have a very similar structure.

          • Dan

            this is not true, the pope declares a docrine or scripture to be correct (infallible) on the basis of the above quote, that peter is the rock. When the question was asked Peter rose and answered correctly, and declared it publically. the Pope affirms teaching and keeps things constant. The catholic scripture is based on the greek mainly on the Septuagint, on the point that it was the most upto date version of the old testiment in ancient israel, this translation is quoted in the New Testament, particularly in the writings of Paul the Apostle. (from wiki)) Then the new testiment was authorised by the Church over a lenghy process to determine which texts were divinely inspired. If you claim the bible to be the word of God it is on the authority of the Pope that this is made. And his authority comes from Christ.

            i think.

          • Dan

            We are different, but the Church is not “what the Pope declares” but what the Holy Trinity has revealed through him.

          • bytebear

            Mormons are very grateful for the Catholic Church for preserving the Bible. It is truly a miracle. But they do believe that there are additional writings, lost to mankind, some restored (i.e. the Book of Mormon), some perhaps waiting to be discovered.

          • Dan

            And how has that been proved? When were these anicent writings discovered that changed the ancient Jewish understanding of God, and made redundent the teachings and institution of the Church Jesus founded himself?

          • bytebear

            That’s up to you to discover. If you want to know the details of the founding of Mormonism, you can start here:

            http://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1?lang=eng

            But, essentially, God called a prophet as he did Noah, Moses and Paul and gave that prophet instructions on how to bring forth His kingdom. Of course you disagree, but Joseph Smith was told that Christ’s church fell into apostasy. (see http://www.lds.org/scriptures/tg/apostasy-of-the-early-christian-church?lang=eng for scriptural references that the LDS Church highlights as evidence that God knew of and prepared for the apostasy and restoration of the Church).

          • Dan

            thank you i will have a look.

          • Dan

            the link you send are quotations from the Bible yes. I fail to see how the LDS has confirmed that a) the apostay destroyed the early church and b) that the “univerasal” Church is false one. We can use these against mormons.

            Right, so Joseph Smith, after being in many protestant donominations asked to the question “why are there so many Churches? which one is right?” then decided to make his own. One that would be correct. it that about the gist of it? Does he talk about he Catholic faith specfically?

          • bytebear

            No, he didn’t just decide to start a church.. Jesus Christ appeared to him, and directed his actions. Again, read the History of the Church I linked to earlier. The restoration of the church was far more than just a guy starting a new church.

            Smith does not talk of the Catholic church, but does receive in his answer, Christ saying that the “creeds of Christianity” are an abomination. Interpretations are that God was not happy with extra-Biblical edicts without prophetic authority, and not so much the content of the creeds, although there are some aspects that are not aligned with modern prophecies regarding various doctrines.

            But, Mormonism started just as God has restored truth in the past, with a prophet of God revealing to that man His will.

          • Dan

            But the creed is entirly biblical

          • bytebear

            Well, I think you need to first define what creed. And it’s a statement of interpretation of scripture. It, unto itself is not scripture. It is, as you say, interpretive tradition. And, although Mormons may agree with a great deal of the content, they do not recognize the authority of the authors. Same for the Pope today, or for you the LDS prophet. You may agree with the message, or some interpretations, but you certainly reject them as authoritative.

          • Dan

            exactly, it has never been over scripture. it is the teachings and doctrines which are layed out in scripture. best place to find out about our creed is http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm#

            loving this dialogue btw, i’m learning a lot about mormonism

          • bytebear

            Thank you.

          • bytebear

            Also, the Mormons, being a persecuted people, had great sympathy to the Catholics of the day who were also under persecution.

          • Dan

            Of course, on this we stand together. The persecution mormons is a great tragedy of the human condition.

            Also, much are the religions of the world treated so poorly these days. Father, help those who do not know what they do to see the light of Christ and be filled with the love of the Holy Spirit.

          • bytebear

            Catholics believe the keys of God’s kingdom reside with the Pope. Mormons believe those keys reside with their prophet. But on the things that Christ teaches, I think both leaders have the same interests in common. They both believe and teach the message of Christ. Both believe in the sanctity of life, the importance of moral standards, the sanctity of the family, the charitable efforts to the poor and needy. The importance of religious liberty. I think both exemplify the love of Christ.

          • Dan

            The love yes, but God is not just Love, he is truth. to Follow Christ is to keep to the truth. coexistance goes against the “One Church” Christ spoke of. So while some social issue we might agree on the are hard roads to walk to find unity. If we claim to follow christ we must listen to him.

          • bytebear

            Again, the debate becomes which church is the “One Church”. Clearly we aren’t going to agree on which church that is. And so, rather than debate, I’d prefer we agree on what we can, and try to follow Christ together.

          • Dan

            We should not say we aren’t going to agree. We want to save each other yes? and we can’t both be right? so we must help each other to seek the truth. Christ is the builder and the church his house on earth. Who/what was the rock and is the rock today? this is how we must follow christ, as one church.

          • bytebear

            Joseph Smith’s spiritual journey began when he wanted to know which church was true. He read James 3:5 which led him to pray to God and ask which church to join. His answer was a greet revelation and the beginning of the restoration of Christ’s church. Although his experience was extraordinary, Mormons believe the same conversion must come to all. God must reveal His truth through the Holy Spirit. Even members who have grown up in the church are taught that they cannot live on borrowed light, and must ultimately learn for themselves if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly Christ’s church. I, or course, encourage you to do the same.

            But, that does not preclude me from encouraging you to live as Christ wants you to live, and to follow his commandments, regardless of the ultimate decision to accept His baptism in His true church. ;)

      • Joel Hardy

        Dan

        I can assure you that my religion requires me to listen to Jesus and “Follow him”. More importantly I require it of myself. What you say can only be your opinion based on your interpretation of the Bible. If a person professes to follow and worship Jesus Christ you cannot deny him the right to call himself christian (little c).

        • Dan

          But if i call myself a Christian and say murder is ok, i am not following Christ. there is only one way one truth and one Life. That is Jesus christ. This indeed maybe my reactive opinion, but it is not my interpretation of Bible i adhear to. I listen to christ and the people he trusted with his teaching for the last 2000 years. I can read a book, but to understand a Book i must first understand the author. The teachings of Christ are not about which one is the most popluar, he died on the cross for the truth, and so did and do the people of his Church, the one Holy and Apostolic Church. there are many Judas’ in the Church right now, and so there have been since the beginning a judas can never kill the body of Christ.

          • Joel Hardy

            “This indeed maybe my reactive opinion, but it is not my interpretation of Bible i adhear to.”
            Then you are adhearing to someone elses interpretation of the Bible.

          • Dan

            right, the sacred tradtion! that goes back as far as the ancient israelites through to Christ and then on to his Church, the One church that Christ established. The church that remains unbroken in apostolic succesion from Peter to now Pope Francis. in this tradtion, great councils are held when a definitive answer is needed and after much debate and study, the decision is left, always, to the Holy Spirit. The interpretation of sacred tradition is why we even have scriptures as opposed to still using word of mouth. Why would it be mine, i will almost certainly be wrong, i don’t study the bible, i don’t know how to approch each book of the bible. I don’t know the bias’, the language in which each text was written. the context of each book. No anything i could come up with would just be plain wrong.

          • Joel Hardy

            But those great councils were made of mortal men who claim they were inspired by God, along with debate and discussion, to make decisions on scripture interpretation. I make the same claim with my religion, except we have the added advantage of having God Himself appear to our first prophet and directly reveal His will to him. We also have latter-day prophets who directly receive revelation from God to help us know what the scriptures mean; no debate or discussion needed.
            There is really no way that anyone can prove whether you or I are right. But I cannot agree that, because of some debate and discussion by men hundreds of years ago, you can sufficiently prove to me why we cannot call ourselves christian when Christ is at the center of our worship.

          • Dan

            (so is scripture in a bubble?) why do you even accept scritpture as the Word of God? who said that was the case? The Holy Spirit thorugh the authors wrote the books which constitute the Bible but who said they all agree? who declared it to be? Jesus did formulate the Bible, he knew the old testiment and forefilled it by his death, and resurrection. Men wrote the gospels for Jesus told them to make disciple of the nations. They wrote the gospels later in history when they discovered that this was a better method of teaching the faith. Debate on whether there should be a Bible, on which Books were divinly inspired, this is the heart of allowing the Holy spirit to prevail. You know or Arianism, those who denyed the Divinity of Christ, and this happened before the bible was formed, split the Church. Many bishops, in fact a majority thought that Arian was right, even a Pope, but the Holy Spirt guided the truth in the end and the Pope declared the divinity of christ. We debate and argue because God is not just revealed to us, he is creation and therefore is rational. The right answer is decernable because God created intelligence. You cannot ignore history, to do so is to deny the truth of the Bible.

            Does Christ being at the centre of worship constitute a Christian? Is it possible for a group of People who re-present Christ in such a way as to change him form being the Messiah as foretold by the prophets of the Old testiment to a mere-man or not man at all. They might say we follow christ, even love him. But to deny his intrinsic nature is cease being Christian. Jesus said “you are either with me, or against me” if you are Christian then i cannot be, because we believe differently on fundermentals to make such true. Only one of us is right, and the answer is the differance between salvation and damnation. We can’t call mormon Christans any more then you could call Catholics because to do so would betray the word of God.

            Its not meant as an insult, and means to begin dialogue and unravel the confusion which has split us apart. Once we understand where we both are truly comeing from, only then can we discover who has the truth. This needs to be done for the salvation of souls.

            does that make sense? this is very rushed. Its 1:00am where i am.

  • bytebear

    Why not just read their own holy books on the subject of Christ’s divinity and Godliness?

    Doctrine and Covenants 20:28
    Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.

    Book of Mormon

    2 Nephi 31:21
    And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

    Mormon 7:7
    And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell
    in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.

  • bytebear

    I also found this article intersting:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/allergicpagan/2013/09/28/what-a-pagan-can-tell-you-about-whether-mormons-are-christian/

    “In my experience, the majority of those people who would deny Mormons
    the right to use the name “Christian” are those for whom “Christian” is
    their primary religious self-designation. While those for whom
    “Christian” is more of an umbrella term tend to be more liberal
    regarding the inclusion of Mormons and others within the Christian fold.”

  • DeanCalif

    I need a reference in the Bible where God authorizes men to meet together, argue like crazy, alienate entire Christian communities and vote on the nature of God. I missed that verse or chapter. Or vote on the method of creation of the world. When did a bunch of men get so caught up in themselves that they think they can explain deity without being a Prophet or receiving divine revelation. This whole creed issue is not biblical. Please, show me the verses and I will take another look.

    • Dan

      go to the catechism ” http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm#
      each teaching is layed out and referance to scripture. God Bless.

      • DeanCalif

        Dan, I read 238 to 243 and it does not answer the question. It says the Church confessed in the Apostolic Tradition. No bible verses were quoted or justified this action.
        Now, if you believe in current Prophets and current Revelation – then it becomes a different discussion.

        • Dan
          • Dan

            the headings Chapter One. I Believe In God The Father to Chapter Three.: I Believe In The Holy Spirit and all the text inbetween is relevent to the creed. But the catechism is “waht we believe” which is practically an explainion of the creed, and the creed is an explaination of the bible and the faith. Not to be seen as added on or on top of scripture but the scripture condenced into simpler language. It reafimes our love of scripture.

          • DeanCalif

            OK, Dan. I read 185-197, twice and I read all of the bible references twice. There were no references there to the procedure used to create the creeds. I do understand that the creeds were written to simplify the doctrine. But that work needs to be overseen by a Prophet or Apostle. Otherwise people get off track. I went to Wikipedia and the Catholic Answers Forums. There was some confusion on the Forums. I think Wikipedia said it best, “Nicene Christianity”. I agree that Roman Catholics are Nicene Christians and by default us Latter-day Saints are not Nicene Christians but Christians nevertheless. You know that statisticians put us in the “other” Christian denominations.

          • Dan

            out of interest, would you consider mormonism the spiritual successor to Arianism?

            because we both want to resolve the issue, let me try and understand your view and why you see it.

            The nicene creed is wrong because it is not biblical, and this view was first propogated by Joseph smith. And upon further reseach you have confirmed this.

            I think the point being missed is this, the docrines of the faith come from two places the old testiment and the Oral traditions which lead to the formation of the bible. The Apostles, as we know, did not write the history of Jesus and all the words he taught, but when they went out to teach they used all of his teachings. So when they died they pasted on there mission and Christs message to their successors. Eventually some thought it wise to write it down. An so we had the books for the faith. But when this happened enemies of the Church wrote other Books and so a council was called to decided what was truely Christ’s teaching and what was not. The nicene Creed s not just the afrimation of faith but of what Christ taught. This creed is the faith that was held but apostles and early christians or rather it is the definition of Christianity. It is entirly informed by the bible. Where it is not please tell me, in fact look below a pick out the part which you are not stated in the bible and i will correct you.

            The full creed:

            I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
            Amen.

            God bless, dialogue is good.

          • DeanCalif

            Dan, Thank you for the olive leaf. I am embarrassed that I did not send it first or simultaneously.
            My point is that the Nicene Creed is man made. Therefore people who do not accept that Creed can still be Christians.
            My logic: 1) Nobody at this council was sustained as Prophet, Seer and Revelator nor Apostle. Such a person was not given the final say after all spoke (to declare the word and will of God.) 2) For every bible verse given to support the concept of the Trinity other scholars have one in support of their separateness. (if you have a list of references in support of this, I would like to see it as I have only been shown a couple of verses. These would have to be verses where it is clear we are reading about physical oneness not oneness in purpose.) 3) The verses showing the Father and the Son as separate beings are quite compelling. e.g. John 17; John 14:28; Matt 6:9 and Acts 7:55 just to warm up. 4) There is no other example in the universe of a three in one being. 5) Christ is “The Son of God” and we too are the Father’s Children and in our universe children grow up to look like and become like their parents. Also: LDS believe that “intelligence” is eternal and cannot be made. This is a huge deal because God is not responsible for our choices. He, thank you Heavenly Father, gave us agency and we exercise it. We also believe that our heavenly parents somehow combined intelligence with spiritual bodies and we became premortal spirits. Jesus Christ was the Firstborn premortal spirit child and is more intelligent than all the others.
            Thank you for mentioning Arianism. From what Wikipedia said, Arius understood the nature of God. We are not followers of Arianism. We are followers of Jesus Christ as it seems Arius was.
            As we say in psychotherapy, “it is normal and rational” for each of us to believe what we do believe. Therefore I believe it is unfair to say I do not follow Christ when I profess to, study the scriptures, pray, serve God and serve my neighbor, strive to keep the commandments, etc.
            I am always pleased when I meet Roman Catholics who know and understand their doctrine, as you do.
            May God Bless you, too.

        • T.B.

          Grossly abbreviated for clarity of point:
          ACTS 15 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion (. . .)
          ****(circumcision blah blah blah)****
          25 So we all agreed to choose
          some men and send them (. . .) 27 to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us ***(etc.)****

          • DeanCalif

            T.B. , Acts 15:6-28 is perfect. When a dispute about doctrine came to the surface, the apostles and elders thoroughly discussed until the chief apostle stood up and took charge by saving the Lord’s will. Verses 22-28 are church administration verses. Imagine one saying, Peter has told us the word of the Lord and now who is going where to teach this so there is not confusion and the disputations stop.
            The office of Apostle did not end, Matthias and Paul were both Apostles after Christ’s resurrection. They just failed to replace them as soon as they were martyred. Thus the need for the restoration of the Priesthood and the office of Apostle. Also, in Revelation 11:10 it says there will two prophets in the last days.

          • Dan

            Ummm, i think we are arguing about different things. You talking about apostalic sucession ? we have that, Paul have someone to pass on his teaching etc. the point o f the council was to weed out the judas’ and leave only the divine truth. sorry for the misunderstanding.

        • Dan

          As a catholic of course we believe in Prophets, and current revelation.

          • DeanCalif

            The Catholic Answers Forums states that public revelation ended with the death of St. John the Apostle. I am glad you believe in revelation, that will certainly help you. But there is real irony in statement that public revelation ended with the death of St John the Apostle as Latter-day Saints we believe he was translated and walks the earth today trying to touch the heart and souls of men. [so public revelation could not have ended since he did not die.] Just a little irony.
            I testify that we have prophets on the earth today: for 5 to 7 years before the recession our prophet hammered on the members to get out of debt and live within out means. Previous to that, in 1995 the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 Apostles issued a joint statement on the preeminent position of the family. This, just before the most vigorous onslaught against families. Yes, we do have prophets on the earth today.

          • Dan

            current revelation must have been misunderstood, i meant private. http://www.catholic.com/tracts/private-revelation

            It is about what revelations are binding.

            “Christian faith cannot accept ‘revelations’ that claim to surpass or correct the revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment” Catechism of the Catholic Church 67

  • peter_marlow

    So what is Christianity? Perhaps it can be summed up best in this one scripture: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) I believe in this same Jesus Christ, that He is the only begotten Son of the Father, that He was given to us by His Father as a sacrifice for our sins because the Father loves us, and that only by believing in Him do we have eternal life. So why do some feel they need to try to define me, a Mormon, as anything other than a Christian? I know God loves me. He allows me to continually experience – to feel deep within my soul – the greatness of His love and a very real and joyful forgiveness of my sins through Jesus Christ.

    How can traditional Christianity be considered more Christian or biblical than Mormonism? In their Nicene Creed – created over 300 years after Christ, not a part of the Bible, but worshipped with equal fervor as the Bible such that those who do not accept it are hated as non-Christian heretics – in this creed, the true nature of the relationship between the Father and the Son is undone. In it, the Father is the Son and the Son is the Father. They are a “Trinity” of “one substance” – words not found in the Bible.

    This is where traditional Christianity (or what we should call, “Nicenianism”) fails. Instead of believing the true teaching of the Bible (and Book of Mormon) that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” they wrongly believe that He gave Himself as His Son. Therefore, they cannot understand the true nature of God’s love for His Son and for each of us, also His children. Their inability to believe in the Son as the Son may actually disqualify them from everlasting life.

    What are the fruits of this failure of Nicenianism, this allegiance to an orthodoxy of their own making and the narrow biblical interpretations they insist are true even as they deny God’s power to reveal truth today? The most pernicious fruit is their bigoted intolerance of those who believe differently, the desire to silence them, even by murder. Of course, Nicenianism became the prevailing religion! For well over a thousand years, anyone who dared oppose it was killed. It started in Europe with the burnings at the stake by the Catholics, then the Protestants. Such murders were common in this country, too, even through the early part of the 20th century, with Mormons and others still being killed for nothing more than their beliefs.

    That bigoted mentality is still evident today in their anger at the LDS Church, their desire to tear down Mormonism on the basis of nothing more than their flawed interpretations of the Bible and their flawed understanding of the teachings of the LDS Church (which they could easily rectify by consulting mormon.org instead of their wildly misleading sources of misinformation).

    The fruit of true Christianity is love and trust in God, peaceably allowing all to experience the freedom He gives each of us to believe according to the dictates of our own conscience, and to love all as a brother or sister, regardless of what they choose to believe. The true Christian accepts that he is imperfect, and that his understanding and interpretation of the Bible is also imperfect. Therefore, he esteems as his brothers in Christ all those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, even if they interpret the Bible differently. He doesn’t want to denigrate or kill anyone.

    If God had wanted the Bible to be narrowly interpreted, He would have written it in a way that would have made more than one interpretation impossible. He clearly wants each of us to also rely upon His Spirit for understanding. This is not something you can ask someone else to do for you. If you love God, plead with Him for His guidance as you study the Bible. Let each be responsible to God for their own interpretations, whether they choose to humbly follow the direction of the Holy Ghost in applying the teachings of the Bible, or whether they seek to twist its words to justify themselves in their sins. By their fruits you will know them.

    I testify in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that I know by personal revelation, by the unmistakable power of the Holy Ghost, as sure as I know of my own existence, that Jesus Christ is the Lord, our Savior and Redeemer, that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are both true, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the work of the Lord, His restoration of His original Christian church, restored by Him through a man He had called as a prophet, Joseph Smith, and led by Jesus Christ today through living prophets and apostles He has called and through whom He reveals His beautiful truths. Imagine that! How can any true Christian not want to be a part of this great work being done today by our resurrected Lord!

    Don’t believe because of my words. Likewise, don’t turn away because of the words, traditions, orthodoxies, opinions, philosophies, creeds or flawed interpretations of another. Seek the word directly from God. If you humble yourself before Him, trust Him and present to Him a loving desire to follow Him and do His will in all things, He will reveal His truth to you by His Spirit. “Ask and you shall receive.” And it will be wonderful and beautiful beyond what you can imagine!

  • trueinar .

    After reading a few of these posts I think the question is kind of silly. Why? Nobody can seem to agree on a definition for Christian. It reminds me of a co-worker who is quick to dismiss anyone who doesn’t agree with him as not really Christian. He feels that Old Earth Christians, for instance, aren’t Christian. People who don’t believe the Bible to be 100% literal? Not Christian.

    I will admit that I find the Trinity an odd place for a determination on the subject as the Biblical support for that doctrine is no stronger than the Biblical support against. I am not saying that it is wrong but it doesn’t seem like a good point for determining if someone is Christian or not.


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