Are Mormons Christians?
Mormons consider themselves to be Christians but Mormonism has historically had an uneasy relationship with traditional Christianity and its branches such as the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and most branches of Protestantism. This is primarily due to the fact that adherents to Mormonism claim that the movement is a "restoration" of the earliest Christian and Judaic doctrines. Mormonism is considered to have branched from Christianity itself but differs on their status of God and their beliefs.
According to the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Mormonism and Christianity are identical; Mormonism restores and perfects Christianity. However, traditional Christianity regards Mormonism as a departure from Christianity, or a corruption of it.
Since its beginning in the 1820s, the Latter Day Saint movement has proclaimed itself to be Christianity restored to its original authority, structure and power; teaching that the existing denominations "were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom", and "all their creeds were an abomination in his sight." Since that time, Mormonism and mainstream Christianity have both found much to admire in one another's history and manner of life; but their conflicting doctrines and claims of authority have been the cause of deadly conflicts in the past and still generate dismissive criticism from both sides today.
|Use of statues and pictures||In Catholic & Orthodox Churches.||Idols are not accepted, Depictions of the life of Christ and other saints are acceptable. Art for representation of a story not for idolatry.|
|Place of origin||Roman province of Judea.||Upstate New York|
|Place of worship||Church, chapel, cathedral, basilica, home bible study, personal dwellings.||Church, Chapel or Temple for organized worship, though in extremis, any place where two followers of Christ gather together.|
|Belief of God||One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.||As is made plain in the scriptures, Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and bone. He was once a man like us but ascended to godhood through obedience to eternal law. We can do likewise, but since we are imperfect, we need a Savior, Jesus Christ.|
|Human Nature||Man has inherited "original sin" from Adam. Mankind then is inherently evil and is in need of forgiveness of sin. By knowing right and wrong Christians choose their actions. Humans are a fallen, broken race in need of salvation and repair by God.||Man has the potential for good or evil and he chooses which to pursue. He who chooses evil can be enslaved to sin but is set free by coming to Christ.|
|Scriptures||The Holy Bible||The Holy Bible (Old & New Testaments), The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price and sanctioned words of modern prophets.|
|Practices||Prayer, sacraments (some branches), worship in church, reading of the Bible, acts of charity, communion.||Baptism, partaking of Sacrament at weekly church meetings, tithing, temple marriage & baptism for the dead. Personal & family prayer & scripture study, Family home evening. Following the teachings of modern prophets such as Thomas S. Monson.|
|Clergy||Priests, bishops, ministers, monks, and nuns.||Most "worthy" male members hold priesthood offices. Some are called out of the congregation to preside over wards, stakes, and areas. Missionaries mostly support themselves. Only non-clergy who administer to the affairs of the Church are paid.|
|Means of Salvation||Through Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection.||Through the Atonement of Christ, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.|
|Marriage||A Holy Sacrament.||Mormon scripture (Doctrine and Covenants section 132); marriage is one man/one woman and can be eternal. Historic polygamy was ended more than 100 yrs ago and was practiced by divine command as exception to the rule.|
|Life after death||Eternity in Heaven or Hell, in some cases temporal Purgatory.||All have been gifted immortality through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Righteous to spirit paradise and wicked to spirit prison. Salvation possible after death. Final destination decided after the Millennium. Body and spirit go to Heaven (3 levels.)|
|Confessing sins||Protestants confess straight to God, Catholic confess mortal sins to a Priest, and venial sins straight to God (Orthodox have similar practice) Anglicans confess to Priests but considered optional. God always forgives sins in Jesus.||To God through prayer. Confession of more serious sins to one's bishop or stake president.|
|Original Language(s)||Aramaic, Greek, and Latin.||During Christ's time: Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Reformed Egyptian (the name of the characters the Book of Mormon was written in). In the Latter Days: English|
|Holy days/Official Holidays||The Lord's Day; Advent, Christmas; New Year, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, every day is dedicated to a Saint.||Sunday (The Lord's Day), Christmas, Easter.|
|Goal of Philosophy||Objective reality. Worship of God who created life, the universe, and is eternal. Christianity has its own philosophy, found in the the Bible. That philosophy is Salvation from sin, through the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.||To bring all people unto Christ|
|Authority of Dalai Lama||N/A.||None|
|Followers||Christian (follwers of Christ)||Saints, Latter-day Saints, Mormons|
|View of the Buddha||N/A.||A wise teacher. No official position taken by the Church; most Mormons probably don't know much about him.|
|About||Christianity broadly consists of individuals who believe in the deity Jesus Christ. Its followers, called Christians, often believe Christ is "the Son" of the Holy Trinity and walked the earth as the incarnate form of God ("the Father").||The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). mormon.org or lds.org for more information.|
|View of other Dharmic religions||N/A||Abrahamic religion. Mormons believe they have a corner on all truth. They believe that while nearly all denominations contain a lot of truth, that the LDS faith is the only one with full truth. Anyone can obtain salvation no matter what faith you are|
|Symbols||Cross, ichthys ("Jesus fish"), Mary and baby Jesus.||Angel Moroni (unofficially) and temples (especially the Salt Lake Temple). When questioned on the subject of symbols, church president Gordon B. Hinckley said that Latter-day Saints themselves are the best symbols of their religion.|
|Founder||The Lord Jesus Christ.||Jesus Christ restored the church that he created anciently by revelation to Joseph Smith both directly (as in the first vision) and through angels and the Book of Mormon.|
|Belief of God||One God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.||Godhead - Father, Son, Holy Ghost seen as separate individuals unified in purpose. Worship reserved for the Father.|
|Birth of Jesus||Virgin Birth, through God.||Jesus was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth.|
|God's role in salvation||Humans cannot save themselves or ascend on their own to a higher level. Only God is good and therefore only God is able to save a person. Jesus came down from Heaven to save mankind.||All will be resurrected through the perfect sacrifice of Christ. All who choose to follow him will gain life eternal, which is life in the presence of God. Exaltation to a higher state is dependent on grace and obedience to laws and ordinances.|
|Offshoot religions||Rastafarianism,Universalism, and Deism, and Masonry.||Community of Christ, Church of Christ, Church of Jesus Christ, Apostolic United Brethren, Fundamentalist LDS, Restored LDS.|
|Death of Jesus||Death by crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. Will return.||Death by crucifixion followed by resurrection and continued ministry among his followers in Judea and the New World.|
|Goal of religion||To love God and obey his commandments while creating a relationship with Jesus Christ and spreading the Gospel so that others may also be saved.||Learn of one's true purpose on Earth, Gain salvation, love one another, serve, keep the commandments, find happiness.|
|Legislation||Varies through denomination.||As in ancient times when his 12 apostles regulated the affairs of the church, in the restored church there is an order to the authority he has given to men to act in his name, beginning with the First Presidency and 12 apostles.|
|Status of Muhammad||N/A.||Founder of Islam. Not officially recognized as a prophet.|
|Second coming of Jesus||Affirmed.||Affirmed. No one knows when he will return.|
|Identity of Jesus||The Son Of God.||Jesus is the eldest of Heavenly Father's spirit children. He is the Son of God, the Lord of all and the Savior of all who believe in Him and truly repent, or turn from, their sins. He is also given the name, Jehovah as well as the title, God.|
|Religious Law||Has existed among Catholics in the form of canon law.||Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is necessary but not sufficient for salvation. Christ said those who loved him would follow his commandments. Accordingly, we must follow God's laws, such as the Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity etc.|
|Literal Meaning||Follower Of Christ.||Church of Jesus Christ because he is the founder; "Latter-day Saints" to distinguish today's restored church from that which existed in the Savior's time|
|Population||Over a billion adherents worldwide.||15,634,199 (December 31, 2015)|
|Religion which atheists may still be adherents of||No.||No.|
|Resurrection of Jesus||Affirmed||Affirmed as a literal, historic event.|
|Place and Time of origin||Jerusalem, approx. 33 AD.||Eastern United States, AD 1830|
|View of other Abrahamic religions||Judaism is regarded as a True religion but incomplete (without Gospel, and Messiah) Islam is regarded as a false religion, Christianity does not accept the Qur'an as true.||The LDS Church carries the fulness of the gospel and God's authority on earth. All other religions stem from God's true church and teach many true principles and promote good values but don't have the fulness of the gospel.|
|Views on other religion||Christianity is the True Faith.||Mormons believe they have a corner on all truth. They believe that while nearly all denominations contain a lot of truth, that the LDS faith is the only one with full truth. Everyone will be given an opportunity for salvation.|
|Geographical distribution and predominance||Europe, North and South America, and Australia and New Zealand.||The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a worldwide religion, with organized congregations on six continents.|
|Views on the afterlife||Eternity in Heaven or Hell; some believe in temporal suffering in Purgatory, before admittance into Heaven.||Spirit Paradise or Prison for the righteous and unrighteous immediately after death. Christ's gospel preached among the prisoners and repentance possible there. Eventually, one of three kingdoms of heaven or outer darkness (very rare to go to).|
|View of other Oriental religions||N/A.||All religions contain some truths, but to reach the highest levels of exaltation, people must accept Jesus as Savior.|
|Authority of Pope||Leader and overseer of the Catholic Church. his authority is completely rejected by Protestants, and is viewed by Orthodox as first among equals. Orthodox and Protestants reject Papal infallibility and Papal supremacy.||Viewed only as the worldwide leader of Catholicism. No special standing in the eyes of God.|
|Promised Holy one.||Second Coming of Christ||The Lord Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah of Old Testament prophecy; He will come again at the end of time to fulfill Old and New Testament prophecy. He has restored his church to the earth today through the prophet Joseph Smith.|
|Jesus||Son Of God.||The literal Son of God and the long-awaited Messiah.|
|Ressurection of Jesus||Affirmed.||Affirmed as a literal, historic event.|
|Rites||Seven sacraments: Baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, matrimony (Catholic and Orthodox). Anglicans: Baptism and Eucharist. Other denominations: Baptism and communion.||Ordinances include Baptism, confirmation (receiving the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands), ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing.|
|Branches||Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant.||The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (mainline church does not sanction the existence or beliefs of offshoots listed elsewhere on this chart).|
|Day of worship||Sunday, the Lord's Day.||Sunday|
|Definition||Disciple of Jesus Christ.||A member of the true restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the 19th century after centuries of apostasy.|
|Belief||The Nicene Creed sums up Christian belief in the Holy Trinity.||Believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior; and receiving Eternal Salvation from him and our Heavenly Father. All are immortal and existed before this life. Some chose to come to this world to be tested.|
|Virtue(s) on which religion is based upon||Love.||Love|
|Direction of Prayer||Catholics and Orthodox usually face the Tabernacle in their prayers but it is not considered necessary, but recommended. God is present everywhere recent reforms have prompted many Christians to not face anywhere in their prayers.||No physical direction. Prayer is rightly directed to God the Father, in the name of Jesus.|
|Holy Days||Christmas (celebration of the birth of Jesus), Good Friday (death of Jesus), Sunday (day of rest), Easter (resurrection of Jesus), Lent (Catholicism), saints' feast days.||Sunday (Day of rest), Easter, Christmas, celebrations of events in Mormon history. No formal feast days.|
|Prophet||Moses, Samuel, Nathan, Elijah, Elisha, etc., as well as both Johns in the New Testament too.||A prophet is anyone with a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost, as in Num. 11:25–29; Rev. 19:10. God does call specific Prophets to call the people to repentance and reveal his will. There is a prophet on the earth today, in the LDS church.|
|Prophets||Prophets in the Bible are venerated.||The gift of prophecy may be granted to any believer. God has called specific prophets, seers, and revelators to guide the Church today, as in ancient times. There is one man called the prophet of the church who holds all keys of priesthood authority|
|Abrahamic Lineage||Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.||Isaac and Jacob. Members of the Church who receive a Patriarchal Blessing (available to all) have it revealed to them which tribe of Israel they are adopted into or have actual blood lineage from.|
|Praying to Saints, Mary, and Angel||Encouraged in the Catholic & Orthodox Churches; most Protestants only pray directly to God.||Prayer is directed only to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ.|
|View of God||One God, Who Is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.||The LDS faith believes in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost as separate beings of which the Father and the Son have glorified physical bodies and the Holy Ghost is a spirit in the likeness of a man.|
|Promised Holy One||Second Coming Of Christ.||Jesus Christ|
|Praying to Saints,Mary, and Angel||Affirmed, in Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, & Anglican(Episcopalian)Christianity; most Protestants do not.||Pray only to God (The Father) in Jesus' name.|
|Original Language||Aramaic, Greek, and Latin||English|
Differences in Origin
Christianity began in 1st century AD Jerusalem as a Jewish sect and spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond to countries such as Ethiopia, Armenia, Georgia, Assyria, Iran, India, and China. The first known usage of the term Christians can be found in the New Testament of the Bible. The term was thus first used to denote those known or perceived to be disciples of Jesus.
Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 in Fayette, USA when he refused to join the Christian church. He stated that God, in a theophany (or "First Vision"), had indicated to him that all other Christian churches were in a state of apostasy and that he was to join none of them. In March 1830 the Book of Mormon was published, which Joseph Smith said was scripture that he had translated by divine power from buried golden plates delivered to him by an angel. It professed to recount a history of the Lord's dealings with some of the ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, including a description of their civilizations. The most significant part of this history is the appearance of Jesus after his resurrection.
Smith, along with five associates, formed the Church of Jesus Christ according to New York State law at the time. He indicated that he was directed by God the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ, to restore the fullness of the Gospel because Christian churches had lost essential doctrines and priesthood authority that could not be recovered without a restoration.
Differences in Beliefs
The core, distinguishing Latter Day Saint belief is that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a prophet who, like Moses, received revelation and scripture from God. The first such revelation recorded by Smith stated that the original apostolic church was lost after a "Great Apostasy" in the early church. Smith claimed subsequent revelations instructed him to organize the restored church of Jesus Christ and carry it to all the earth. Today, Latter Day Saints (sometimes referred to as Mormons) believe their church has the same authority as the church established by Jesus Christ, that successor Apostles are also prophets, and that revelation is on-going.
This contrasts with trinitarian Churches, who believe that their doctrines are thoroughly consistent with those taught by Jesus Christ and his Apostles. Traditional Christianity holds that the scriptural canon is closed, and that this kind of active revelation ceased with the end of the Apostolic Age. In accordance with their historic creeds, Mormonism is deemed a corrupted form of Christianity, or Christian in only a nominal or cultural sense. Their apologists argue that the beliefs unique to the LDS are incompatible with the Bible and unsupportable from either tradition or history.
The Mormons believe in modern prophets, beginning with Joseph Smith, Jr., and continuing today with Thomas S Monson. Mormons believe in God the Father, the Son (Christ), and the Holy Ghost existing as three separate individual beings or personages while the Christians regard Christ as immortal and believe in the Trinity. Mormons, like mainstream Christians, also believe that Jesus Christ is the essential path for salvation. They also believe in a form of theosis called exaltation or eternal progression, which states that man can achieve Godhood and that God didn't just make man in His image but that God was a man who became exalted, and that men, angels and God are part of the same species.
Christian vs Mormon Practices
Christians believe that all people should strive to follow Christ's commands and example in their everyday actions. For many, this includes obedience to the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament. Other Christian practices include acts of piety such as prayer and Bible reading. Christians assemble for communal worship on Sunday, the day of the resurrection, though other liturgical practices often occur outside this setting. Scripture readings are drawn from the Old and New Testaments, but especially the Gospels.
Mormons wear ceremonial temple garments under their daily clothes and perform baptisms for the dead, and other ordinances by proxy, in temples and doing attendant genealogical research. A dietary code called the Word of Wisdom, currently requiring abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and illegal drugs; caffeinated soft drinks are left to individual discretion. Virtually all Christians hold special ceremonies or rites, often called sacraments. The Mormons call these ceremonies ordinances. The three main ordinances practices by Mormons are Baptism, Confirmation, Sacraments, Endowments and Sealings. While Mormons are expected to confess their sins directly to God as repentance, some Christians (Catholics) confess their sins to a priest.
Mormons do not accept the baptisms by other Christian denominations as valid. They point to Acts 19:1-7 where Paul rebaptized some prophesing Christians as evidence that the proper authority is necessary. Most denominations of Christianity reject Mormon claims of additional scriptures, and of the prophetic office of Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders; they disagree with Mormon claims that they have committed apostasy. Doctrines such as the beliefs about early American civilizations, which are unique to Mormon theology and not found in the teachings of mainstream Christian churches are also causes of disagreement. Nonetheless, many Christian denominations treat Mormons with respect, while not minimizing the differences in belief.
Hierarchy in Mormonism vs traditional Christianity
In Mormonism the hierarchy of authority begins with Jesus Christ himself and continues to the Presidency of the Church. The President of the Church is the highest ecclesiastical authority on the Earth and is often referred to as "the Prophet." He, along with his counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are believed to have direct communication with Jesus Christ and are often referred to as "special witnesses" of Christ because of this close relationship with Him. The Prophet is assisted by two counselors, who together with him form the "First Presidency" of the Church. The Presidency, along with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which have equal authority, unitedly lead the church. These leaders are considered to be prophets, seers, and revelators. No decision is made for the Church as a whole without absolute unanimity on the part of these 15 men.
In Christianity, with Jesus Christ as Son of God, the hierarchy consists of priests, ministers, pastors and bishops.
Differences in Scriptures
Christianity regards the Holy Bible, a collection of canonical books in two parts (the Old Testament and the New Testament) as authoritative: written by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore the inerrant Word of God.
Mormons accept the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price as works of scripture.
Mormon vs Christian Demographics
Data suggest that there are around 1.8 billion Christians in the world while there are approxmately 15 million Mormons worldwide.
Christianity is the world's largest religion. It is the predominant religion in Europe, the Americas, Southern Africa, the Philippines and Oceania. It is also growing rapidly in Africa and Asia, particularly in China, South Korea and the Middle East. It is declining in other countries including Australia, Great Britain, France and Germany. On the other hand, Mormonism is concentrated mainly in the USA, Latin America, Canada,Philippines and England. It has very less of a presence in China and the middle east. There is believed to be over 14 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide as of 2012.