Are Mormons Christian?

An individual asked this question a few weeks ago at a presentation on humanism. This was not a non-churched person, or someone just new to the church, rather it was a professing Christian and long time church member. At another location, where I had been asked to teach about cults, after listing 7 or 8 that we would touch on, a few expressed surprise about Mormon's being in the list... "I didn't know Mormon's were a cult ?" And it's no wonder. If the only basis you had for evaluating their beliefs was their professionally well-done commercials, door-to-door presentations, and unquestionably moral lifestyles, many could presume.

Without going into great detail as to all Mormon beliefs — something I may do at a later date — a single passage of their scriptures should suffice as a warning. I say "their scriptures" because they claim the Book of Mormon to be co-equal with the Bible; as "Another Testament of Jesus Christ".

Quoting from their authorized book, Principles of the Gospel, under the subsection articles of faith , point eight reads: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." In fact and practice, the Book of Mormon is not held as being equal — as only they have the right to "translate correctly" the Bible. Page 96, of the same book, clarifies even more... "If the doctrinal part of the Book of Mormon be compared with the doctrines of the Bible, there will be found the same perfect harmony... Although there are many points of the doctrine of Christ that are far more plain and definite in the Book of Mormon than in the Bible, and many things revealed in relation to doctrine that never could be fully learned from the Bible, yet there are not any items of doctrine in the two sacred books that contradict each other, or clash in the least." Therefore the Book of Mormon is said to clarify the Bible. Any point of disagreement, between the two, must fall to "incorrect translation" of the Bible.

Back to that single passage of comparison between their scriptures and the Bible. 2 Nephi 25:23b states, "for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." This is far different in substance from, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)." The Book of Mormon offers a gospel that requires works and faith, while that Bible speaks of a salvation through faith alone (sola fides). The two can never be construed as being the same. In the Mormon gospel you must rely on yourself and God, in the Biblical gospel you are completely dependent on God alone.

It's no wonder Mormon's are so moral — they believe it's necessary to secure their salvation. As Christians we follow God's commands out of love, because He has saved us. A labor of love is far different and far better than a labor of perceived necessity.

Statistics have shown that a great number who began in the Christian church end up in cults and new movements. To keep people in the church from falling for the enticing lure of cults — especially those that have gained credibility and public acceptance — we need to be teaching the truths of scriptures which are at the heart of our faith. Only then will people know which points of reference they need to compare.

And by the way — not only major doctrinal items are in disagreement. Even details like where Jesus was born are in dispute. Alma 7:10 states "he (Jesus) shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem...". From Old Testament prophecy's (like Micah 5:2) to the gospel writers (see Matthew 2:1,5; Luke 2:4,15; John 7:42, etc.) we know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Both books cannot be right.