Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Are Mormons Christians?

This past weekend I was in Louisiana at the first annual Mardi Gras Madness jump rope workshop hosted by the Heart 'n Soul jump rope team. It was a blast; I saw a lot of good friends that I haven't seen in a while, we put a lot of great routines together, and, since we were in the south, we ate a lot and often. I love the south.

(*As a side note, Mardi Gras isn't just the party most people hear about, especially if you stay away from the French Quarter and Burbon street in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is a season, like Christmas, filled with lots of decorations, family-friendly events, parties, food, and parades. Done right, Mardi Gras can be a fun, wholesome event.)

As things were winding down and we were just hanging out, the conversation turned to holidays and Christmas and such and one of my friends asked, "So how does Christmas work out for you then?" I was a bit thrown off guard, not really understanding the question and I answered, "Well, I believe in Jesus Christ, Mormons believe in Jesus Christ, so we do Christmas like everyone else..." I suppose that I take for granted sometimes that people just know that I am a Mormon and assume they know that means I believe in Jesus Christ.

I believe in Jesus Christ. I know He is my Savior, that He suffered in Gethsemane and died on Calvary's cross, and that He rose again. I believe that one day He will come again. I unequivocally believe that through Him and His Atonement I can be forgiven of my sins and can overcome my weaknesses and that I can someday be perfected as He and His Father are. His words are recorded in ancient scripture such as the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He speaks through prophets today to guide us through this life. He is my Elder Brother, my Redeemer, my Advocate with the Father. Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ.

What is a "Mormon?"

I believe some confusion comes, in part, because the Church is so often referred to as "the Mormon church" and members of the Church are referred to as "Mormons." Please understand, the term "Mormon" is a nickname given to members of the Church early in the history of the Church because they read The Book of Mormon. The official name of the "Mormon" church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The proper term for members of the Church are called Latter-day Saints, or LDS (I say, "I am LDS," or, "I am a Latter-day Saint). When I explained this to my friend, he apologized but I explained that the nickname "Mormon" is not offensive in any way and there is no need to apologize. In fact, the address of the basic website for the Church is mormon.org. Mormon.org explains basic doctrines and beliefs of the Church and has options to chat live with members, read profiles of members of the Church, and request missionaries to come to your house if you so desire.

Simply knowing and understanding the name of the Church alleviates much confusion as to whether or not Mormons are Christian. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe in Him whose name the Church bears. Jesus Christ was the Jehovah of Old Testament and the Messiah of the New Testament. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His Church, led by Him through His living apostles and prophets. Below is a video of the testimony of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.


What's the difference?

My friend replied that he didn't know that Mormons were Christian and then asked, "So what makes you different then than Presbyterians or Methodists?"

The distinction between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and protestant religions is found in the organization and creation of the LDS Church. When Jesus Christ was on the earth, he established His Church "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20). The authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ (called the priesthood) was lost with the persecution and martyrdom of the apostles. Over time the doctrines were corrupted and unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and priesthood ordinances such as baptism and the conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost. The protestant churches were created in an attempt to "reform" the current religious practices but without the authority or revelation to do so.

Thus, a "restitution" (see Acts 3:19-22) or restoration of all things was necessary. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, called him to be a prophet, and through him restored the fulness of the gospel, the priesthood authority to act in God's name, and all priesthood ordinances. The plain and precious truths lost in the darkness of apostasy were restored through the Book of Mormon. What is the difference between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Christian faiths? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a restoration of all things, it is the Church of Jesus Christ in our day as was established by Him when He walked the roads of Palestine.

So who is Mormon?

Remember the nickname "Mormon" originated because one of the unique aspects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we read the Bible and The Book of Mormon. The full name of The Book of Mormon is "The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ," further witnessing that those who read it and live by the teachings found therein are Christians.

The Book of Mormon is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel. The Book of Mormon was written by many ancient prophets and abridged onto gold plates by one such prophet named Mormon, thus the name "The Book of Mormon." Mormon's son Moroni hid up the gold plates and hundreds of years later he appeared to Joseph Smith in a vision and told Joseph where to find the plates. Joseph Smith translated the record by the gift and power of God (see Joseph Smith--History 1:27-54, 59-75. See also the Title Page and Introduction of the Book of Mormon.)

We regard Mormon and Joseph Smith as prophets just as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, or Paul. We do not worship Mormon or Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon is not our version of the Bible. We worship the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father and we read and strive to heed all of Their words, those given anciently found in the Bible and The Book of Mormon and those given in our day through modern prophets and apostles.

Summary

The term "Mormon" is a nickname given to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because we read The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a volume of ancient scripture comparable to the Bible written by ancient prophets who lived on the American continents. Mormons are Christians; we believe that Jesus Christ lived, we believe in His teachings found in the Bible, we believe that He suffered and died for us and that He was resurrected that we may all have the opportunity to repent; become cleansed, resurrected, and perfected; and return to live with Him and our Father in Heaven forever. We differ from other Christian religions in that we are not a reformation of another church, but a restoration of the Church that Jesus Christ Himself established when He lived on the earth.

I love the Lord Jesus Christ. I love this Church. I love the Book of Mormon. I know that all the wonderful things in my life are all a direct result of my striving to follow Him and His teachings I learn at church and in the Bible and Book of Mormon. I am a Mormon and I am a Christian.

Jeremy

Further information:

  • VIDEO: Are Mormons Christian? Testimony of Elder Gary J. Coleman.
  • Topic: Mormon on lds.org. Contains videos and official Church answers to the questions, "Who are the Mormons," "What to Mormons Believe," and "What is different between the beliefs of Mormons and other Christian churches?" Great website, check it out!
  • "Are Mormons Christian?" A mormon.org FAQ with answers from members of the Church.
  • Church Apostle Answers Frequently Asked Questions from newsroom.lds.org. Video answers of questions such as, "Are you Christian?," "What is the role of Jesus Christ in your faith?," "Do you worship Jesus Christ in your Sunday services?," "In what ways are you similar to other Christians?", "In what ways do you differ from other Christians?" See also the transcript of the interview.
  • About The Book of Mormon from this blog