Are Mormons Christian? In reply to four common accusations, this list tells why Mormons are Christian. (Also see the FAQ: Are Mormons Christians?)
1. "Mormons don't use the cross as a symbol of worship because they do not accept Christ's Atonement."
It's true that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not use the cross in their architecture, chapels, or adornment. However, this is not because we don't accept Christ's Atonement, in fact we strongly believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We simply view the resurrection of Christ, rather than His death, as the "good news" of the gospel. Speaking on this topic, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
"For us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ... the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.... On Calvary he was the dying Jesus. From the tomb he emerged the living Christ. The cross had been the bitter fruit of Judas' betrayal, the summary of Peter's denial. The empty tomb now became the testimony of His divinity, the assurance of eternal life, the answer to Job's unanswered question: 'If a man die, shall he live again?' (Job 14: 14.)" ("The Symbol of Christ")
2. "Latter-day Saints believe that salvation comes through their own works rather than through the grace of Christ."
While we understand that no man will ever gain salvation through their own works, Latter-day Saints believe that men need to do more than merely profess a belief in the Lord, Jesus Christ to gain salvation. The following scripture from The Book of Mormon explains this further:
"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23.)
The phrase, "after all we can do" means living His commandments, extending our best effort, loving our fellowmen and praying for those who regard us as their adversary, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and afflicted, living chaste lives, and in being honest and doing good to all men. No man will ever be able to live a perfect life, and though we strive to this end, we understand we will fail. Hence, it is only by His grace that we are saved "after all we can do".
Also see this FAQ, "Do Latter-day Saints Believe We are Saved by Faith or Works?"
3. "Latter-day Saints believe Joseph Smith was greater than Christ."
This, simply put, is a falsehood. I've never met a member of the LDS Church who professes Joseph Smith to be greater than Jesus Christ. While we revere and honor Joseph Smith as the prophet of the restoration, we most certainly do not believe he is greater than Jesus Christ. Speaking on this topic, Elder Charles W. Penrose declared:
"I bear testimony to you that I know this Church is the Church of Jesus Christ; that it has been built up by the power of God; that God Almighty has revealed it; that Jesus Christ, His Son, has manifested Himself, and that this Church is His Church, because He has built it up, and He guides and directs and controls it, through His servants who stand at the head of the Church. They are but men. We do not worship any man. We do not worship Joseph Smith, as some people imagine; but we look upon him as a very great Prophet, and we have reasons for this."
4. "Latter-day Saints can't be considered Christian because they accept more than the Bible as the Word of God."
Latter-day Saints believe in continuing revelation and accept the King James Version of the Bible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price as the Standard Works of the LDS Church. We believe each of these, not just the Bible, contain the words of the Lord as recorded by His prophets. Their teachings draw us closer to Christ. The Book of Mormon, in particular, is subtitled 'Another Testament of Jesus Christ'. In his book, "A Witness and A Warning," Ezra Taft Benson outlines two ways the Book of Mormon brings us closer to Christ:
"The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint."
"Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Nephi 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon is similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time."
While there will always be those who do not agree with our doctrine, the fact remains that Latter-day Saints are Christian. What do you think? Share your vote in this poll: Are Mormons Christians?
Also read Seven Reasons Why Mormons are Christian.