Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–also known as Mormons–are Christian believers. We wholeheartedly have faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice. We believe that salvation comes through Christ alone. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi wrote:
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. . . .” (2 Nephi 31:20-21)
Another Book of Mormon figure, King Benjamin gave an important sermon wherein he said:
“And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:17)
The in the closing pages of the Book of Mormon, an ancient prophet named Moroni exhorted future readers:
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moroni 10:32-33)
According to a Pew Forum opinion poll published in 2007, most people believe Mormons are Christians.
“A slim majority of the public (52%) says that Mormonism is a Christian religion, while nearly one-in-three (31%) say that Mormonism is not a Christian religion. White evangelicals stand out for their view that the Mormon religion is not Christian: a 45% plurality says that Mormonism is not Christian, while 40% say it is. Among white evangelicals who attend services at least weekly, 52% believe that the Mormon religion is not Christian.” (Pew Forum, 25 Sept 2007, http://pewforum.org/Public-Expresses-Mixed-Views-of-Islam-Mormonism.aspx#section2)
According to the poll, education is a factor in the opinions the general public has of Mormons. Among college graduates, 64 percent believe that Mormons are Christians. The less education one has, the more likely one is to harbor uninformed, prejudicial views against latter-day saints.
The religion of the poll’s responders also impacted their opinions. Among white, mainline Protestants, 62 percent esteemed Mormons as fellow Christians, despite the doctrinal differences that exist. Among white Catholics, 59 percent regarded Mormons as Christians.
So where does this notion come from that Mormons are not Christians? The poll gives us a clue.
“White evangelicals stand out for their view that the Mormon religion is not Christian: a 45% plurality says that Mormonism is not Christian, while 40% say it is. Among white evangelicals who attend services at least weekly, 52% believe that the Mormon religion is not Christian.” (Pew, ibid)
It would appear that the misrepresentation that Mormons are not Christians originates largely from white Evangelical churches and their clergy. It stems from an extremely narrow definition of what it means to be a Christian–a definition so narrow that it would exclude a billion Catholics and many members of mainstream Protestant denominations as well as Mormons. This is unfortunate. We seek no conflict with other religions. We seek to share a positive message that the God whom Christians profess to adore has spoken again in our day. This is a message of consolation, confirmation, and joy. Why should anyone who truly believes in God object that he should give us more of his word?
Allowing one denomination of Christians to narrowly define what is a Christian and what isn’t should be considered arbitrary and unreasonable. It excuses exclusion, persecution and, in the past, violence against Mormons. When reasonable people examine the core beliefs and the actions of latter-day saints, they will understand that we truly believe in Jesus Christ and seek to follow his example.
Yes, there are doctrinal differences. Some of them are substantial. Yet there are equally substantial differences between Protestants and Catholics that have been unresolved for centuries. Some of those differences led to persecution and bloodshed in centuries past. However, today most believers on both sides regard the others as Christians. If they can set aside doctrinal differences and work together to good in the world, why should they use exclusive definitions to portray Mormons as something other than Christians?
There are all sorts of scriptural arguments and doctrinal debates that could go on endlessly. Certainly they have for nearly two centuries. The best measure is to follow the Savior’s admonition that you can tell a good tree by its fruits. When your faith is in Christ, the fruits of your faith will be good.
It’s natural to be skeptical. The day after Jesus had called Philip to be his disciple, Philip went to his friend Nathanael and said that he had found the Messiah. Nathanael told his friend that it was Jesus of Nazareth. (John 1:43-45) Nathanael responded with skepticism at first. He asked, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip merely replied, “Come and see.” (John 1:46)
Our invitation to you is to “Come and see.” Be our guest at one of our chapels. You’ll find a warm, friendly welcome and you’ll hear and see for yourself. Why rely on another’s opinion? If Nathanael had never gone to see, he would have never known. You can know for yourself that we are Christian believers and that we are engaged in the Lord’s work.
Speaking personally, I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that he died to redeem us. I know he rose from the dead and that he lives today. I know that he continues to act as our Advocate and Mediator. I know that there is power when we pray to the Father in his name. I know that through him alone is forgiveness of sins and peace of conscience. I love him with all my heart and I am determined to follow him with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. In this, I am not alone. Millions of my fellow latter-day saints share this same testimony and this same desire.