Are Mormons Christian?

(teaching)

Honestly, I’m growing tired of this question. I know I shouldn’t be because it is a privilege to proclaim my belief in Christ over and over again—plus, I have the feeling this question isn’t going away anytime soon. But in my experience, a large number of people who ask this question think they already know the answer. To me it’s ignorant to say Mormons aren’t Christian. The official church title is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Easy enough, right? I wish.

It seems like the LDS Church is tiring of this question as well because last week, when things heated up in the political scene and the Church was questioned on this topic—again—they simply referred people to mormon.org and told them to do their own research. (http://newsroom.lds.org/article/church-response-to-not-christian)
On a personal level, I’m the gospel doctrine teacher in my congregation—the Sunday School teacher for adults. This year we are studying the New Testament and right now specifically, the Pauline epistles. This has been so fascinating to me because I have been closely following politics at the same time. When I take something I love (my LDS faith, the New Testament, and politics) and throw it all together, I’m suddenly bursting with things to say.
In case you didn’t know, there are two Mormon/LDS candidates running for US President. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.
Because of their religion, there are some Americans who are questioning whether Romney or Huntsman would be a good candidate. I take offense to that. I greatly take offense to that. If you want to reject a candidate based on their social issues, foreign policy, or their economic plan, fine. But religion?
As I teach Sunday School each week and study the Book of Acts and the Pauline Epistles, I am seeing huge parallels between what happened to the early Christian Church—specifically with Gentile converts—and what is happening to Mormons today.
The Jews who had converted to Christianity were some of the early leaders after Christ’s death, and incidentally also the missionaries sent out to spread the gospel. But as the gospel spread, and as more and more people outside the Jewish beliefs joined Christianity, some of the Jews suddenly cried, “Outrage! They believe differently than us, therefore they are not Christian!”
For example in Acts 15, the people from Judaea were saying that “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses; ye cannot be saved.” (Sounds kind of like, “Except Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman believe our interpretation of the New Testament, they cannot be saved).  Chapter fifteen goes on to say that they had “no small dissension and disputation with them.” Sounds familiar.
In consequence, all the apostles and elders met in Jerusalem to settle this matter. Once the decision was reached, Peter then says that to the Jews, “God, which knoweth the hearts (of the Gentiles), bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us.” In other words, God is the judge, and he judges them to be Christian.
Yet the contention continued. Many Jewish Christians couldn’t stand it and Christianity began to spread more quickly among the Gentiles than with the Jews. The Epistle to the Hebrews seems to be Paul’s firm warning to them: “You better be careful Jews,” was his basic message, “Lest in your zealousness, you completely miss the mark. You think you know what salvation is, but I’m telling you, you only know the half of it.”
Now…there are obvious differences between Gentiles and Mormons and Jews and mainstream Christians today, however, the story has many similarities.  And rhetoric.

“Hey! They don’t believe exactly like I do. What the heck?! They must not be Christian!”

I guess we never learn, do we?
So as a Mormon/LDS member, how do I define the word Christian? Well, a Christian is someone who believes that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and Son of God. Someone who believes He is our Redeemer and the only way by which we can return to our Father.  Since I believe all these things strongly, as do my fellow Mormons (see mormon.org), I state that we are resoundingly Christian.
(I have to add an amendment in here. For those not of our faith who are defending our faith either privately or publicly–Thank You!)

To end, I quote my favorite scripture from The Book of Mormon which, by the way, is sub-titled Another Testament of Christ.
“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26)  If that isn’t ‘Christian’ I don’t know what is.
To borrow from the Mormon media campaign…“My name is Rebecca. I’m an author, a composer, a mother, a Mormon, and I’m a Christian.”
FYI…List of famous Mormons you may have heard of:

Politics:
  • Mitt Romney, GOP front-runner for the 2012 Presidential election
  • Jon Huntsman, GOP candidate for the 2012 Presidential election
  • Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader: Democrat
  • Glenn Beck, Political Commentator, Radio Broadcaster, and NY Times Bestseller
  • Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett, and a whole slew of Senators, Representatives, and Governors across America (16 total).
Sports:
  • Jimmer Fredette, NCAA 2011 Basketball National Player of the year and current guard for the Sacramento Kings
  • Steve Young, former NFL quarterback
  • I know there are a bunch of others, but I don’t really follow sports. There’s a list at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latter_Day_Saints
Entertainment:
  • Gladys Knight, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer
  • Donny and Marie Osmond, singers, actors
  • Neon Trees, rock band
  • Stephen R. Covey, motivational speaker and author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective…
  • Richard and Linda Eyre, motivational speakers and NY Times Bestselling authors
  • Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Jon Heder, otherwise known as Napoleon Dynamite
  • Rick Schroeder, actor
  • David Archuleta, American Idol Runner-up
  • Six contestants on last season’s “Biggest Loser” TV show
  • The 5 Browns, famous classical piano siblings
NY Times Best-selling Authors (this gets its own category since there are so many I follow):
  • Stephenie Meyer, author of the “Twilight” series
  • Ally Condie, author of “Matched”
  • Richard Paul Evans, author of “The Christmas Box”
  • Orson Scott Card, Shannon Hale, James Dashner, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Jason F. Wright, etc.
Business:
  • David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue airlines
  • Bill Marriott, CEO of Marriott hotels
  • CEO of Black and Decker
  • Former CEO of Dell
  • And a whole bunch of others.
Chances are, at least a few of those Mormons have influenced you in a positive way.
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Author: Rebecca Belliston @rlbelliston

Hopeless romantic and author of CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND, SADIE and AUGUSTINA. Music nerd and composer of RELIGIOUS and CLASSICAL-STYLE music. I live in Michigan with my husband and five kids.

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