Why don’t Mormons accept they’re not Christians?

The so-called "Mormon Moment" has shown that professional writers are really just a bunch of kids in a candy shop. And like a kid in a candy shop, these writers are easily distracted by whatever all of the other children are running to. Polygamy and "magic underwear" have received more than their fair share of attention. 

One argument that we need to hear more of, but haven't, is that Mormons aren't Christians. You've probably heard people say this before, and you may have even heard a half-assed explanation. In my experience, though, few people have enough familiarity with Mormon theology to clearly and succinctly explain why Mormons aren't Christians.

Why they aren't:

  • Christian believe in an infinite and singular God.
  • Mormons believe in a finite God who is one of a plurality of Gods (Elohim is the God of this creation; he resides on the planet Kolob).
  • Christians believe that Jesus is the incarnation of their singular God (hence the Trinity)
  • Mormons believe that Jesus is God's half-human offspring (hence the Godhead

Mormons assert that they believe that through Christ their sins are forgiven. This sounds about right, but upon closer examination, their version of Christ's expiation differs from their Christian brothers and sisters. Mormons don't believe that the atonement occurred in Christ's death, but earlier in the Garden of Gethsemane. The outcome is the same, but the function is different. 

I need to cool off and remind myself that this is all moot. Keep repeating to yourself, Frank, "I don't believe in any of this crap." (It's so fun, though.) I should take this moment to point out the obvious in that Mormons aren't Christians because no Mormon would ever get an awesome tattoo like the one to the right.

And here's a tip: no matter your familiarity with this topic, don't tell a Mormon that he or she isn't Christian. They're liable to scratch your eyes out. Mormons don't understand that it's not an insult, in fact it makes them a whole hell of a lot more interesting to view them as distinct from Christianity. The assertion is simply an honest understanding of Christianity and Mormonism, and that the two have a relation that more resembles the one between Christianity and Islam. Islam builds upon some aspects of Christianity, and Mormonism does the same. But protestant is where it's at in this country, so goddammit, the Mormons will throw as much of their religion away as they have to in order to get in good with the cool kids. 

Simon Critchley—commenting online for NYTimes—spells it all out in this thoughtful explanation of Mormonism. He mixes Mormon theology and Mormon cosmology into a piece about how the LDS faithful understand God and how their theology separates them from mainstream Christianity. 

And he shares a couple of doozies… 

“So, dear Simon,” my new friend concluded, “we, too, can become Gods, American Gods, no less.” He chuckled. I was astonished. 

Continue to the article at NYTimes.

3 thoughts on “Why don’t Mormons accept they’re not Christians?

  1. Close but wrong. You are basing your ideas of what a “Christian” is solely on the evolution of Western Christianity beliefs that have been outlined in the bullet points. The line of logic that is being used is, Mormons don’t believe the way older Christians denominations believe therefore they cannot be Christians. The error to this logic is there are many Christian denominations that are much older than the more recent Western Christian Denomination that believe differently from the stated bullet points.

  2. I take your point, Ben, but I disagree. Mormons believe in a version of God that is outside the Christian understanding of God. Mormon Jesus has a different role than the Christian Jesus (just like the Muslim Jesus has a different role than either the Christian or Mormon one). Jesus in the role of Jehovah in the old testament shocks the bejeezus out of mainline Christians, as just one example. I would also assert that the things that join Christian denominations together are far more numerous than those that would tie Mormonism to Christianity, leading to my whole point—why not simply accept that Mormonism is a new thing? Something that shares a lot with Christianity, but that’s outside it?

  3. Hello, I am a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints…
    Better known as the “Mormon Church”
    I just wanted to let you know that in fact we are Christians. We believe that God, is our Heavenly Father (and only God) and that the Holy Ghost is our comforter, and Jesus Christ is his son, also our redeemer. And yes, we do believe that we are atoned for our sins through Christ’s crucifixion. But, however…we are not “saved”. Okay? Which means that we don’t believe that if you believe in Jesus Christ you have a one-way ticket to heaven. We believe that man will not be punished for Adam’s transgression, but for our own actions according to what we do and say personally.
    We read and study the Old Testament, New Testament along with our Book of Mormon.
    We do NOT believe in polygamy (we may have in the past, which we cut off and there are two different Mormon churches now [the restored-which is the nonpolygamist- and the other] so, the more common, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does NOT approve of polygamy)
    Any questions please visit our website to actually LEARN and STUDY about us, instead of listening to others and basing your facts on opinions.

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