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In the United States, Mormonism is believed to be one of the fastest-growing religions with almost 6 million members. With the religion gaining traction by the day, the question of whether Mormons are Christians remains a highly debated topic.
While Mormons state that they are Christians, a majority of Christians don’t agree with the fact and feel that the Mormon teaching is an apostate religion to Christianity.
To understand whether Mormonism is different from Christianity, let’s dive into the history of Mormonism before concluding!
Around the 1820s, Mormon teacher Joseph Smith claimed that he had a vision and had received revelations from God through an angel first, and then through a book carved on golden plates. He claimed that according to the Lord, all the religious denominations were practicing and believing in incorrect doctrines, and he should wait for further instructions from God. Joseph Smith’s first vision is considered to be the most important event in history after the birth, ministry, and resurrection of Jesus Christ by most Mormons.
When we try to differentiate between Mormonism and Christianity, it is best to look at what the religions profess to believe. While both religions have some beliefs in common like the resurrection of Christ, Lord’s Supper, etc., they also have some key differences. Let’s take a look at what makes Mormonism different from Christianity.
1. Sacred Texts
Mormons, also known as Latter-day Saints believe that four sacred and authentic books should be taught as scriptures, and they are:
- The Holy Bible (King James version): The Mormon teaching says “We believe the Bible to be the Word of God, as far as it’s translated correctly.” According to most Latter-day Saints, all the other versions of Bibles followed by traditional Christians are full of errors. They believe that King James version of The Holy Bible shows the correct path and should be adopted by others as well.
- The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ: This book is considered to be a record of God’s dealings with the inhabitants of ancient America from about 2000 B.C. to 400 A.D. This book is the center of Mormon faith and belief.
- The Pearl of Great Price: This book followed by the Latter-day Saints is a selection of translations, revelations, and writings of Joseph Smith.
- The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: This book is a collection of scriptures containing the revelations from God to Joseph Smith since the restoration of the Church began.
In Christian Trinitarianism, one God eternally exists as three different but inseparable persons, whereas the Latter-day Saints believe the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct Gods and they form a Godhead triune. They also believe that the Father and the Son both have a physical body consisting of flesh and bones, whereas the same is not the case with the Holy Ghost, which is a personage of spirit.
In 1890, the LDS (Latter-day Saints) Church renounced the practice of polygamy, however, it has never rejected the practice as doctrine. It has always permitted men to be married to more than one wife. As per their belief, polygamy made them more cohesive as a people and that it is necessary to reach the highest level of heaven. They believe in big families and that marriage helps expand family networks.
Non-Mormons have rejected the practice of polygamy completely. According to their Bible, “Since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.” They practice monogamy and believe it to be the norm.
4. Plan of salvation
The plan of salvation laid down by Latter-day Saints is a plan created by God that is to be followed by the spirit children of God. They take birth, follow the rules laid by God, resist any temptations the world offers and regret any sins they commit. They try to live their lives in the most Christ-like way possible. In the end, God judges them and their deeds and gives them a place in heaven appropriate for their quality of life on Earth.
In Christianity, salvation is God’s grace and is not dependent on a person’s good deeds. They must believe that Jesus died for their sins and rose again. It is marked as the assurance of forgiveness and resurrection of the body.
According to Latter-day Saints, humans are not inherently sinful, and that there is no original sin. However, humans choose the wrong path consciously and commit sins. Someone who sins gets farther away from God and the more they sin, the more they need salvation. Children below the age of eight are sinless and are not accountable for any of their mistakes.
According to Christianity, sins distance a person from God and are a punishable offense. God gave humans free will, so it is up to the people to decide the path they choose – good or evil.
In Mormonism, it is believed that after death, every soul is given a chance to hear and accept the gospel. On accepting the gospel, they undergo baptism and enter into a covenant with Christ. It is then when all the sins are forgiven.
In Christianity, after death, the people await the final judgment. While both the people doing good deeds and bad deeds will be resurrected, the ones who sin will be sent to Hell and separated from God. Whereas the people doing good deeds will live with Jesus in Heaven.
7. Health practices
Latter-day Saints refrain from consuming anything that may lead to addiction. They avoid the consumption of alcohol, tea, coffee, and tobacco completely. They lead very disciplined lives when it comes to their diet as compared to the traditional Christians.
In conclusion, Latter-day Saints believe themselves to be Christians because Jesus Christ is the divine son of God and is a central figure in their devotion. Even though both Mormonism and Christianity talk about God, faith, and sin, they comprehend them in different ways. Their scriptures, concept of marriage, plan of salvation differ on many levels.
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