Again, Mormons are Christian

Posted on September 20, 2012 by


We’ve discussed this before, and no doubt we’ll need to discuss it again, but last month on “The Bible and Culture” Ben Witherington writes on “Why Mormonism is not Christianity– the Issue of Christology“.  Mr. Witherington’s points are that:

  1. Mormons are not Christian because they believe that God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit are separate beings.
  2. Mormons are not Christian because they do not adhere to “the ecumenical councils which produced the Nicean creed or the Apostle’s Creed or the Chalcedonian creed”.
  3. Mormons are not Christian because they believe that God the Father has a body.
  4. Mormons are not Christian because they believe in scripture beyond the Holy Bible.
  5. Mormons are not Christian because they believe that works are bearing on one’s salvation.
  6. Mormons are not Christian because they believe in the potential for being found worthy to receive all that God has.

Firstly, let us point out Mr. Witherington’s understanding of Mormon doctrine with respect to #5 is clearly in error.  Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that Christ’s atonement affords all humankind eternal salvation from both sin and death.  (Granted, in this we are ignoring the extremely rare case of the sons of perdition, e.g. Cain, but it’s so rare it’s not even worth this comment.)  The three kingdoms of the resurrection: celestial, terrestrial, and telestial are all kingdoms of glory where there is no death and no sin, and all humankind will inherit one of these following their resurrection.  Perhaps Mr. Witherington is equating the degree of glory with salvation, but this is simply wrong.  Mormons do not view those who inherit the telestial glory as “not saved”.

Mr. Witherington’s representations with respect to Mormon doctrine on the other points are all correct – with exception, of course, that they then prohibit Mormons from being properly known as Christians.

One commenter, Rick Lusby, has it perfectly correct when he writes: “All of this comes down to one simple attitude we are all familiar with…… Mormons are not Christians because they don’t believe and worship Jesus Christ the way I do. I am better and smarter than they are, believe me.”  Indeed, Mr. Witherington’s prohibition on those believing Mormon doctrine from being Christian really comes down to deliberate attempts at needless exclusion.

The holes in Mr. Witherington’s logic can start to be seen by reviewing solely one verse from the New Testament: Acts 11:26.  It says, “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”  These Christians at Antioch preceded the compilation of the Holy Bible and also the “ecumenical councils” to which Mr. Witherington requires allegiance to be known as  a Christian.  So by Mr. Witherington’s standards these disciples (meaning “pupils” or “followers”) could not have been Christians, themselves, even though Luke (who wrote Acts) refers to them as Christians.  This very statement by Luke gives us the only definition that we need for “Christian”, and that is “a pupil or follower of Christ”.

We invite the reader to study the official doctrine of the Church with respect to its claims on Christianity.  In the May, 1998 New Era (official Church publication) Stephen E. Robinson writes a very thorough article addressing the very topics that Mr. Witherington raises.  The reader is also invited to read through and see that Mormons, indeed, are followers of Jesus Christ.

Posted in: Christians