Are Mormons Christian?

photo credit: Diueine via photopin cc
photo credit: Diueine via photopin cc

A Facebook friend posed an interesting question for debate yesterday that has garnered over one-hundred comments: Are Mormons Christian?

The topic is not without controversy (understatement). I thought I’d take some time to work through the issue here for those who are interested in my take.

What is a Christian? 

The term “Christian” was first coined to describe believers in Antioch (Acts 11:26). In Greek, the word literally meant “those belonging to Christ’s party, i.e., Christ followers.” A term distinguishing believers from the Jews and pagan Gentiles.

So, the term ‘Christian’ is meant to differentiate those with certain beliefs, specifically beliefs about Jesus.

What beliefs must one hold to be a Christian? Or, to put it another way, what must someone do to be a believer?

A jailer posed this question to Paul and Silas after God performed a supernatural act (Acts 16). They told him to “believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” [Presumably, if the head of the house believed something, then his entire household would go along with his beliefs. That’s a word to some men out there, but we’ll save that topic for a different post. ;)]

What does it mean to “believe in the Lord Jesus?”

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have known me, you will know my Father too.” John 14:6-7a

But don’t Mormons believe in Jesus? 

The Bible calls us to be on guard for those who proclaim a Jesus, but not the real Jesus in the Bible. Remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians?

But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough! ~2 Corinthians 11:3-4

And that’s what we have with religious groups like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. They claim they believe in Jesus, but when you dig a little deeper and ask a few more questions, you realize they’re proclaiming a different Jesus and a different gospel than the one in the Bible.

Christ in the Land Bountiful, by Simon Dewey (https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/christ-land-bountiful-174607?category=gospel-art/book-of-mormon&lang=eng)
Art depicting Jesus’ alleged visit to people in the New World in the Book of Mormon (Christ in the Land Bountiful by Simon Dewey)

The subject of false teaching was a popular one in the early church. Look what Paul wrote to the Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are following a different gospel – not that there really is another gospel, but there are some who are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell! As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be condemned to hell! ~ Galatians 1:6-9

An angel like Moroni who allegedly gave Joseph Smith 18 golden tablets that comprise the Book of Mormon? A wouldn’t the Book of Mormon be considered a different gospel?

Joseph Smith Receives the Gold Plates, by Kenneth Riley (62012); GAK 406; Primary manual 3-33; Primary manual 4-03; Primary manual 5-11; Joseph Smith—History 1:47–59
Joseph Smith Receives the Gold Plates, by Kenneth Riley (62012); GAK 406; Primary manual 3-33; Primary manual 4-03; Primary manual 5-11; Joseph Smith—History 1:47–59

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. ~Colossians 2:8

Human thinking like Brigham Young’s and Joseph Smith’s? Joseph Smith altered the King James Version of the Bible to create his own inspired version, including adding a reference to himself in Genesis 50. 

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. ~2 Peter 2:1-3

Destructive heresies like teaching that Jesus paved the way to heaven with his resurrection but it is up to people to prove themselves worth of exaltation through their good works? Claims like Jesus is the first “spirit-son” of God and that Lucifer is his brother? Claims that Jesus was begotten through sexual relations between God the Father and Mary in the flesh? Claims like the Book of Mormon is “just another Testament” and that when Mormons die, they can eventually become gods themselves?

Sensuality like polygamy? A belief so essential that they traveled to the territory of Utah to establish their own government?

photo credit: Jeanne Menjoulet & Cie via photopin cc
photo credit: Jeanne Menjoulet & Cie via photopin cc

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If the person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here. ~1 John 4:1-3

But some argue that Mormons are Christians based on their good works.

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” ~James 2:17-20

photo credit: jonathanpercy via photopin cc
photo credit: jonathanpercy via photopin cc

Mormonism is compelling. If you know any Mormons, they are the nicest and most helpful people you will ever meet. They will go out of their way to give you whatever they have. They have exceptionally strong family values. They are moral. In fact, I would contend that most Mormons look more Christian than many Christians. So where’s the problem?

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. ~Matthew 7:15-20

You have to look at all their fruit. In teaching contrary to the Bible, they are trying to lead people astray, no matter how well-seemingly.

I mean, think about it. Our enemy is clever. He is the father or lies and full of deceit. He would create a religion that would be attractive. One that looks like what Christianity is supposed to look like. And, yes, I would contend that this angel, Moroni, was Lucifer or one of his minions.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. ~2 Corinthians 11:14-15

Mormons believe in Jesus and pray to God, so does it really matter if some of the things they believe are wrong?

Yes, it does. Because it is a matter of salvation for them. If you truly care about your Mormon friend (or yourself, if you are reading this and you are Mormon), then it is essential that we recognize Jesus for who He is.

Jesus said, Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through itBut the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it. ~Matthew 7:13-14

photo credit: ramtopsrac via photopin cc
photo credit: ramtopsrac via photopin cc

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ ~Matthew 7:21-23

“But who am I to judge whether someone else is saved?”

It’s a great question, backed by plenty of biblical basis:

Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. ~Romans 14:4

But who is a Mormon’s master? Is it Jesus? The real Jesus?

Do not speak against one another, brothers and sisters. He who speaks against a fellow believer or judges a fellow believer speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but its judge. But there is only one who is lawgiver and judge – the one who is able to save and destroy. On the other hand, who are you to judge your neighbor? ~ James 4:11-12

But are Mormons really believers?

Do not grumble against one anotherbrothers and sisters, so that you may not be judged. See, the judge stands before the gates! ~James 5:9

Friends, I’m not writing this post to pass judgment on any person, but on false teaching. I’m writing to shed truth on a subject where some Christians are very, very confused. In our society today where truth is relative, Christians are not doing anyone a favor by being inclusive or universal in the name of tolerance.

So what are our options?

photo credit: Sasquatch I via photopin cc
photo credit: Sasquatch I via photopin cc

1. Treat Mormons as if they are Christians. Let them go their own way. Assume they are saved. Assume that the Jesus they are preaching to the world is the same as the Jesus in the Bible. In other words, do nothing.

2. Treat Mormons as if they are not (or may not be) Christians. Assume they might not be saved. Assume that the tenets of Mormonism are untrue. 

Obviously, I prefer option 2. If I’m wrong, and option #1 is the correct one, then what harm have I done? 

But if #2 is true, then what harm am I doing?

  • I’m allowing someone that does not know God to persist in unbelief.
  • I am letting them believe a lie.
  • I am letting them propagate that lie to others.

That’s the risk, folks.

Now hear me: I do not think that your average Mormon is the Antichrist. Mormons are following a Christian-like religion because they want to be on the right side of God. They are not atheists or agnostics. These are people who are seeking God and want to follow him.

It is the people that are high in the secret upper echelon of Mormonism that are the true deceivers. And it is our job as Christians to try to rescue the sheep they have stolen.

So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. ~Ephesians 4:14-15

But don’t take my word for it. Pray to God and search the Scriptures for yourself.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. ~James 1:5

Be Berean:

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. ~Acts 17:11

Will you join me in prayer?

Father God, we want to know you. We want to have a relationship with the real you. Please make your truth known to us. You already know our hearts. If we are wrong in our beliefs, please open our eyes to your truth so that we might share that truth with others. Free us from the deception of the evil one. In your powerful Son’s name, Jesus, we pray. Amen. 

COMMENTS? QUESTIONS?

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25 thoughts on “Are Mormons Christian?

  1. Hi Lisa! What a great post. I live in Utah, which is predominately mormon. My husband actually grew up LDS and is now saved. We moved to Utah to witness. I didn’t know much about mormonism until I met my husband. It was explained to me before that mormons are Christians, they just don’t pay their pastors (bishops) and do really nice things for people all the time. Both are true, but as you explained there is more to it than that. Now that I know more about their religion and beliefs I agree that mormons are not Christian. No need for me to reiterate your post…you did an excellent job! Just wanted to commend you on addressing this controversial topic. A really good DVD to watch is “The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon”. I think you might be able to watch it on youtube. Anyway, it really opened my eyes to the major differences between the two beliefs and is a good tool for those who aren’t sure of the answer to your question, “Are mormons Christian?”

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    1. Sara (or is it Sara Ella?),

      Thanks for mentioning the DVD/netflix. I’m sure some will be interested in more information. As you know, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to LDS beliefs.

      I think it’s fantastic that you moved to Utah to witness to Mormons. My heart goes out to the Mormon believers because they’re trapped in a well-spun lie. People want to make Christianity so much harder than it needs to be. That want to work at forgiveness because they can’t understand grace. Have you had any success in your endeavors? Is your husband’s family still Mormon?

      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

      1. Sara or Sara Ella….either one is fine 🙂 My hubby’s family are all saved aside from one atheist. We’ve planted some seeds but they take time. Most mormons will only discuss up to a certain point. Then they get frustrated and back out of the conversation. I do have one LDS girlfriend coming to a Bible study I host in my home. She really likes it and I am hoping this will open up some dialogue between us about scripture.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic post, Lisa. One of your best! 🙂 I agree 100% with everything you said. Although part of me questions if Joseph Smith saw Moroni or if that is another component in the deceit. The Southern Baptist Convention did a really in-depth video series on Mormonism years ago in preparation for when they held their national convention in Utah. It’s another good source – called The Mormon Puzzle.

    (interesting article I stumbled across while looking up the name of the dvd: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2007/12/southern_baptists_vs_the_mormons.html)

    Like

    1. I grew up southern baptist. I remember at the time they claimed that the largest number of Mormon converts became baptist and vice versa. Not sure what the correlation is.

      Thank you for the link and the kind words. 🙂

      Like

  3. Well done.

    Back in 1996, some Mormans were regularly visiting my wife, attempting to convert her. She kept telling them they needed to talk to me. One day they arrived when I was there.

    After some discussions about how reading the Book of Morman will produce a burning in my heart to confirm its truth, and I brought up some of their unbiblical beliefs, I asked them, “So you’re saying in the early days of the Church, the Holy Spirit was unable to prevent the gates of Hell from prevailing to the extent of lots of false teaching rising up, corruption of the Bible, etc. Now you’re telling me this same Holy Spirit waited almost 2000 years to correct it and if I read your book He will confirm it. If I can’t trust the Holy Spirit to have gotten it right the first time, why should I trust that He got it right with your religion and beliefs?”

    For some reason, the conversation ended abruptly, they left and never came back. I wonder why. lol. But when you start with the premise that the Holy Spirit blew it the first time around, it throws trust and faith in Him out the window. Which is exactly why what they are teaching isn’t the Christianity that Jesus and the Apostles taught, as revealed in the New Testament.

    Good job pointing that out in a compassionate way.

    Like

  4. Excellent discussion, Lisa! Somewhere recently, I heard or read about the Quran and the Islamic faith. What struck me was the similarities in the way the religions developed–both claimed further divine revelation from an angel, both have roots in the Old Testament, etc. Fascinating how the Deceiver works.

    Like

    1. MaryH, I would add both Smith and Mohammed chose parts of the Bible that suited their purposes.

      Revelation provides a clear warning about doing this at least with regard to the Book of Revelation.
      Rev22:18-19. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
      I believe these these warnings, coming as they do at virtually the end of the Bible, apply to all of God’s inspired word. Where they do apply to the whole or not, it seems a very foolish move to choose only fragments of the faith and then supplement those fragments with your own “revelations.”
      The problem is modern humans have been taught to choose the “new and improved product”.

      LisaG, I have a question. Your focus was Mormonism (duh) but do you have any thoughts about Jehovah’s witnesses? They come to my door sometimes. Before they get started, I tell them I’m a Christian and I have no desire to change my faith. What else, if anything, might you add?
      BTW, my mom had a close brush with Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was a preteen. She even accepted one of their “bibles” and read it. Thank God, she didn’t change her faith!
      Under the Mercy,
      SherryT

      Like

      1. Hi, Sherry! Oh yes, I have thoughts about Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ve actually done a series of blog posts about their beliefs. I spent a semester dialoging with a pair of women that came to my house every Tuesday. I was taking a class on Trinitarianism and God’s timing is always impeccable.

        JW’s are more insidious than Mormons in that their beliefs are harder to recognize as lies. They change the wording of some Scriptures and misinterpret others. They have books that tell them how to interpret controversial parts, and you have to ask more questions to uncover the differences in what they believe.

        Here are the links:
        http://lisagodfrees.com/2013/10/08/god-loves-me-he-sent-me-2-jehovahs-witnesses/
        http://lisagodfrees.com/2013/12/05/why-jesus-is-not-michael-the-archangel/
        http://lisagodfrees.com/2013/10/24/is-jesus-god-a-god-or-the-son-of-god-and-why-does-it-matter/
        http://lisagodfrees.com/2013/11/07/are-the-members-of-the-trinity-co-equal/
        http://lisagodfrees.com/2014/01/23/why-the-trinity-is-not-polytheism/

        And these books are a fantastic resource:

        http://www.amazon.com/Reasoning-Scriptures-Jehovahs-Witnesses-Rhodes-ebook/dp/B005WWN5Q2/ref=la_B001HCZ24O_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414128016&sr=1-3

        http://www.amazon.com/Challenge-Cults-New-Religions-Essential-ebook/dp/B002SME1QM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414128099&sr=8-1&keywords=cults+and+christianity+ron+rhodes

        Like

    2. Mary,

      The best lies are those that contain a grain of truth. I just finished reading a book that was a memoir of a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity based on dreams and visions she had of Jesus. Simply amazing. I plan to blog about it soon, but you might want to check it out. Very well written:

      http://www.amazon.com/Dared-Call-Him-Father-Miraculous-ebook/dp/B004TS1MAG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414127371&sr=1-1&keywords=i+dared+to+call+him+father

      Like

  5. Wow! I loved reading this. I, too, live in an area that is full of Mormons. It is a deceiving religion. You are correct in saying that they are very nice and helpful, and seemingly Christian….but you have to dig deeper to see the truth about their beliefs. The sad thing is that many of them don’t even know they’re being deceived. I have a feeling that the higher ups know that they are deceiving others, but the low man on the totem pole genuinely thinks he is doing what God would have him do. Thanks for tackling such a difficult subject with such grace and truth and integrity!

    Like

    1. Thanks, Dara. I agree with you. My heart goes out to the average Mormon, although I’ve had friends that attended a Mormon church that were Christian and said that they knew something seemed off. May God call them back.

      Like

  6. As far as Christians being confused about whether or not Mormons are Christians, it doesn’t help that evangelical leaders have been going to Mormons and apologizing to them for calling them a cult. Billy Graham doesn’t think they are a cult anymore. Richard Land and others have held “beneficial” discussions and dialogues with them. How about preach the gospel to them and trust the Lord Jesus Christ to truly save them.
    Good job pointing our their error and establishing that we must follow the biblical Christ and not some made up christ that comes from the heart of the devil. God bless you:)

    Like

    1. Hey, Eliza.

      The word “cult” really gets a reaction out of people, doesn’t it? Perhaps the reason some are not calling them a cult anymore is that it’s hard to have an open dialog that way. It’s like trying to witness to someone and the first thing you do is call them a sinner and say they’re going to hell. That would put them on the defensive, wouldn’t it? Who knows. In this age of “tolerance” it’s hard to tell.

      But I agree with your point. Just preach Jesus. And be careful we don’t sugar coat is so much that we’re not calling sin a sin.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  7. I live in an area that is predominantly LDS and I have several LDS acquaintances. I pray (not often enough) that their eyes would be opened to the truth. I really liked this post. It was fair, honest, and backed up with scripture. Well-done!

    Like

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