Are Mormons a Cult? Are Mormons Christian?
I’m a Mormon. Am I a Christian? That depends on who you ask. Let me explain:
1 – A different understanding of the attributes of Jesus Christ
Mormons believe that Christ’s body was eternally joined with his spirit as part of his resurrection. This means that he didn’t leave his body on earth when he ascended into heaven. To be clear, the Christ I believe in has a resurrected body of flesh and bone.
Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
Non-LDS/Mormon Christianity essentially teaches that God is a spirit, Jesus is God, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one and the same. So when a Christian Pastor teaches about Christ, or the body of Christ, he is referring to a spiritual essence, not to the resurrected Lord; maybe he’s referring to both, but context is important. This is a tradition that finds its roots in early Christian history. (For more on the LDS view of the Trinity see the post “Who is God?“)
I have had several discussions with Pastors of different Born-Again Christian faiths and they cannot answer what Christ did with his resurrected body when he ascended into heaven. Rather, they refer to other passages in scripture that support their view. For my part, I think Christ made a point of allowing his disciples to handle his body as a testimony of his resurrection. Someday, I hope to have that privilege for myself.
2 – A different understanding of ordinances and authority
Mormons believe ordinances are critical to salvation and are performed after someone has experienced personal conversion. For instance, baptism is a required ordinance to “be saved”. There are other sacred and important ordinances required for salvation. Ordinances must be performed by someone who has authority directly from God; we call this “priesthood authority” and we believe that this authority was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Traditional Christianity is not unified on this point. Catholics believe similarly to what Mormons believe and claim to have that authority handed down through the Pope. Protestants and other Born-Again Christian Pastors feel “called” by God into their authority. Born-Again faiths generally do not view ordinances as essential for salvation but merely an acknowledgement of Christ as their personal Savior. Rather, these acts are done to evidence an inward conversion to Christ.
Hebrews 5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
How was Aaron called? By a prophet of God (Moses) who literally called him to the work. No one can decide they want God’s authority and go acquire it by purchasing a diploma.
Acts 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
3 – A different understanding of revelation
Mormons believe in ongoing revelation. Hence, Joseph Smith is considered a Prophet of God who translated the Book of Mormon and received modern day revelation to establish Christ’s church on the earth again. If this seems strange and you believe in Christ, you might consider how John received the Book of Revelation…
Traditional Christianity treats the Bible as the only scripture and rejects the idea of modern Prophets in spite of the fact that many other scriptural writings are mentioned in the Bible for which we have no record (see “What about Jesus?” for examples) .
In contrast, God said to the prophet Amos:
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
So, by differing with traditional Christianity on the above points, Mormons are labeled a “cult” and “non-Christian” by Pastors of different Christian faiths. Other than the fact that these labels sound evil and horrible, I agree that Mormons have our differences with traditional Christianity. If you look at the above issues and Mormon beliefs seem strange to you, you are among the majority; be thankful for that. However, you might consider where you stand on each of the above issues. For instance, have you ever asked God for personal revelation? Who knows? Maybe you’re not a Christian either. 😉
Want to learn more?
Would you like to learn more about the Mormon faith? You can get a free copy of the Book of Mormon sent to your home by clicking the link on the right of this page. You can also request missionaries to stop by and explain other Mormon beliefs to you and then prayerfully consider if Mormons are Christian. You might just consider that a Christian church ought to have Christ’s name in it, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (AKA, the “Mormons“).