What is a Christian? Before we can understand the reasons Mormonism does not qualify as being Christian, we must define some terms.
A Christian is someone who subscribes to a theological view with a set of foundational doctrines held in common. If I claim to be a Christian but say that my backyard peach tree is the reincarnation of Christ, would I be a Christian? If I claimed to be Islamic but denied the Koran or the prophet Mohammed, would I really be a Muslim? If I claimed to be Hindu but refused to accept reincarnation and the many gods of Hinduism, could I rightly be called a Hindu? If I insisted that I am Mormon, but deny that Joseph Smith was a prophet, do not believe the Book of Mormon to be scripture, and say that temple work is not necessary to the salvation of both living and dead, could I really claim to be Mormon? Would I be able to become a member of the LDS Church? Absolutely not. So how can a Mormon, denying the basic tenets of Christianity, insist he or she is a Christian?
Does being a “good person” make someone a Christian? If being a good person makes someone Christian, then how do you explain the many non-Christians who do volunteer work and are honorable in their dealings with their fellow man? How would you explain a philanthropic atheist? Would believing that Jesus was a great teacher or a wonderful prophet make a person Christian? If believing that Jesus Christ walked the earth some 2,000 years ago made people Christians, then that would make Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims Christians, because they all accept the fact that Jesus was a real person. They may acknowledge he was a good man, and maybe even a prophet, but they don’t believe He was the Son of God. Even Satan and demons believe Jesus is the Son of God, but we wouldn’t classify them as Christians.
It is interesting that LDS leaders emphatically insist there is no such thing as Mormon Fundamentalists; in other words, that off-shoots of the Mormon Church that practice polygamy and hold to the original teachings of early LDS prophets are not to be considered Mormons. Even though these fundamentalist LDS sects revere Joseph Smith and believe the Book of Mormon is true, the Church refuses to acknowledge them as Mormons. Yet, the LDS Church will not play by its own rules, holding itself to a different standard. If LDS leadership does not allow for people who believe core Mormon doctrines to come under the umbrella of Mormonism, how can they then demand to be called Christians when they deny the very tenets of Christianity?
If a Mormon denies the doctrines that theologically define Christianity, he cannot consider himself a Christian. If a person denies the inerrancy of the Bible, does not accept the Triune nature of God—acknowledging that God always existed as God, and rejects Christ’s completed work on the cross, he cannot be considered a Christian, notwithstanding they may try to “follow his example.” Mormon doctrine and Christian doctrine are two different things entirely. To say that Mormons are not Christians is not saying they are not good people. You will find many wonderful people in Mormonism. Theologically speaking, however, they are no more Christians than Christians rejecting Mormon doctrine are Mormons.
It is not logically possible that a religion which rejects the biblical Trinity and accepts polytheism, which denies that God always existed and instead maintains that God was once a man who evolved into godhood, which teaches works-salvation and denies salvation by grace, which offers a pagan view of the virgin birth, which endorses the occult, and so on, can legitimately call itself Christian. Mormonism is not true Christianity and true Mormons cannot be considered Christians…..For Mormons to maintain they are truly Christian, they must ignore the weight of 20 centuries of history and the conclusion of most people outside the church who have seriously and independently investigated the issue.” (Fast Facts on Mormonism, John Ankerberg and John Weldon, 2003, p. 90).
Mormons in general are a very industrious, kind, hard-working people with integrity and good moral values. They are good neighbors, honest citizens, and exemplify Judaic-Christian values. But being a Christian is more than just living a decent life and professing belief in Jesus. Christianity, in the most basic sense, is comprised of core doctrines and beliefs, such as; sola scriptura (scripture alone), sola fide (faith alone; justification by faith), a Triune God, Christ’s complete work on the cross, the inerrancy of the Bible, believer’s baptism, priesthood of all believers, and a universal church, among other unique doctrines. If a person does not subscribe to those beliefs, he cannot be considered a Christian.
The same holds true for Mormonism. If a person rejects Joseph Smith as a prophet, the Book of Mormon and other uniquely LDS scripture, temple-work, eternal progression, and baptism by those holding the Mormon priesthood, he cannot really be considered a Mormon. It is not an insult, it is just fact.
Mormons and Christians believe in and worship different gods. The god of Mormonism is an exalted man who started out eons ago as “an intelligence,” progressed to become a spirit son of his father-god and one of his father-god’s wives, was born as a mortal on a distant earth, tried to live a righteous life and eventually succeeded in becoming worthy enough to gain godhood and start making worlds of his own. He is an exalted man with a resurrected body and one of billions of gods in existence.
The Jesus of Mormonism began in the same way. He is the oldest spirit child of billions of spirits born to this world’s heavenly father and mother. According to Mormon doctrine, he worked out his own salvation (Bruce R. McConkie, BYU Devotional, March 2, 1982). His atonement does not cover all sins. He was not born of a virgin through the power of the Holy Ghost, but rather, was conceived through the physical union of “heavenly father” and Mary. According to early teachings of the Mormon Church, he was a polygamist and had children (Family Home Evening Manual, 1972, p. 126; Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 345-346; vol. 2, p. 82; 4, p. 259; Seer, p. 172; Joseph Fielding Smith’s letter, March 17, 1963).
In the Bible w find that God gives His grace freely to the humble of heart; but in Mormonism it must be earned. LDS Apostle James Faust stated in General Conference;
Many people think they need only confess that Jesus is the Christ and then they are saved by grace alone. We cannot be saved by grace alone, “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do (James E. Faust, “The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope,” Ensign, November 2001).
Grace in Mormonism is given after all a person can do on their own. Salvation in Mormonism is divided into two categories; general, unconditional salvation, and conditional, individual salvation. The free gift of salvation, according to LDS doctrine, is nothing more than a resurrected body, regardless of where the person ends up. However, to live forever in the presence of God requires obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Mormon gospel. In fact, Mormonism teaches that only those who get Joseph Smith’s approval will be saved! Brigham Young stated;
How are you going to get your resurrection? You will get it by the President of resurrection, and that is Joseph Smith, Jun. Hear it all ye ends of the earth; if you ever enter into the kingdom of God it is because Joseph Smith let you go there. This will apply to Jews and Gentiles, to the bond, and the free; to friends and foes; no man or woman in this generation will get a resurrection and be crowned without Joseph Smith saying so. The man who was martyred in Carthage Jail, State of Illinois, holds the keys of life and death to this dispensation…” (Quoted from “The Essential Brigham Young,” Eugene E. Campbell, p. 99).
As we can see from Mormon Doctrine, Joseph Smith is claimed by the LDS Church to be absolutely necessary for everyone’s salvation.
From the day that the priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding up of things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are – I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 289. This teaching is also repeated in the LDS Church’s 1984 manual, “Search These Commandments,” p. 133).
The Bible does not teach that salvation comes through Joseph Smith, but through Jesus Christ. It also teaches many other things that Mormonism has later contradicted. For example, God the Father is spirit (John 4:24). He does not have a body of flesh and bone (Luke 24:39). He is the ONLY God in existence, period. He has always existed as God and was never anything less than God.
Jesus of the Bible is God incarnate, born of a virgin—meaning a young woman who had not had any sexual relations with either mortal man or “exalted man.” “Emmanuel” means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the Word and the Word IS GOD. He is Creator of all things, including Lucifer and all the angels. He is not Lucifer’s or our spirit brother, because He created us.
“For by Him [Jesus, Who is God] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Col. 1:16, NKJV)
Jesus created Lucifer (a.k.a. Satan); therefore He could not be his brother, as Mormonism teaches. Lucifer (Satan) is a created being, the “anointed cherub that covers.” Ezekiel 28:15, speaking of Satan, laments, “You were perfect in thy ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.”
The Bible teaches we are saved by grace through faith alone, and even our faith is the gift of God so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). There are no laws or ordinances, such as LDS Temple ceremonies or bestowing the priesthood on “worthy male members” in the gospel of God. The Gospel is a message, the “good news” that Messiah has come to establish his kingdom. It is the news that Messiah died for our sins and rose from the dead. The Gospel is declared in 1 Cor. 15:1-4, where Paul said,
“I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you…For I also delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
That is the gospel! It is the good news that changes lives! “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The GIFT is eternal life, not a resurrected body! Romans 1:16 tells us that “the gospel [is] the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” If “salvation” is only a resurrected body, as Mormon teachings instruct, then by that logic only believers will be resurrected.
In 2 Cor. 11:4, 13-15, Paul warns us about those who bring “another gospel.” He warned that changing the gospel in any way makes it “another gospel” that brings God’s curse on those who preach it or accept it (Gal. 1:6-9). He wrote, “But though we, or an angel from heaven (like “Moroni” appearing to Joseph Smith or the angel Gabriel appearing to Mohammad), preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9).
Paul taught us, “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified…I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:16, 20-21).
Salvation (living eternally with God in heaven) is the gift of God to anyone who asks and puts their faith and trust in Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). If eternal life (salvation) was based on our works, it would no longer be a gift; it would become wages, and God is not indebted to anyone. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
As you can see, Christians and Mormons believe very different things about God, Jesus, and salvation. Mormon leaders have stated as much. In April 1977 General Conference, General Authority Bernard P. Brockbank said,
It is true that many of the Christian churches worship a different Jesus Christ than is worshipped by the Mormons …For example, from the Church of England’s Articles of Religion, article one, I quote: ‘There is but one living God, everlasting, without body, parts or passions.’ The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worships a God and a Jesus Christ with bodies, with parts, and with passions… These two concepts are …completely different”(Ensign, May 1977, p. 26-27).
Speaking in Paris, France on June 4th; Frankfurt, Germany on June 5th; and in Geneva, Switzerland June 6th, 1998, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of the Jesus of Mormonism;
In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside of the Church who say that Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ. ‘No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. He, together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages‘” (The Church News, June 20th, 1998, p. 7).
During April, 2002, General Conference, President Hinckley said again, “As a Church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say” (Ensign, May, 2002, p. 90).
For years the LDS Church distributed a pamphlet from the Visitors’ Center on the Temple Square in Salt Lake City, which states;
Christians often speak of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power. Much that is believed and taught on this subject, however, is such utter nonsense and so palpably false that to believe it is to lose one‘s salvation. For instance, many believe or pretend to believe that if we confess Christ with our lips and avow that we accept him as our personal Savior, we are thereby saved. They say that his blood, without any other act than mere belief, makes us clean” (excerpt by LDS apostle Bruce R. McConkie in a devotional address at BYU, March 1982, entitled, “Our Relationship With the Lord).
The Jesus fashioned by LDS founder Joseph Smith is “another Jesus,” a god of his own making that is completely different from what the Bible reveals to us.
In contrast to the “Jesus Christ revealed by Joseph Smith,” “the Christ of traditional Christianity” was prophesied by the Old Testament prophets and further revealed by the New Testament writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, Jude, and James, most of whom knew Him personally. They had walked with Him, talked with Him, lived with Him, seen Him crucified, buried, resurrected and ascend to heaven. That is the Christ of traditional Christianity! Their testimonies and the events of the times of Christ are recorded in the books of the Bible, of which God, the Word, is author. “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16). “The grass withers, and the flower falls away: But the Word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the Word which by the gospel was preached unto you.” (1 Pet. 1:24-25). (Rauni Higley, H.I.S. Ministries, Salt Lake City, UT)
I believe I have been able to demonstrate that the differences are great enough to prevent Mormons from being saved according to biblical doctrines, and to prevent Christians from going to the Celestial Kingdom according to Mormon doctrines. We simply do not believe in the same God, the same Jesus, or the same salvation.
Anyone who has been taught something all their lives will naturally believe it to be true, and I was one of them until I studied for myself. We cannot blindly follow tradition, no matter how near and dear to us. Our task then is to examine the evidence and determine from facts, rather than feelings, what the truth is. The preponderance of evidence for the veracity of the Bible and the biblical gospel is so overwhelming, that to refuse to believe and trust it is like looking at the noon-day sun and deny it is shining.