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.
edit 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.
edit 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.
edit 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.
edit 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.
edit 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.
edit 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.
edit Geographical distribution
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.