Depends who you ask. Mormons believe they are Christians because their definition of “Christian” is “somebody who believes in Jesus Christ and tries to follow Christ’s teachings.” Other people have different definitions of what the word “Christian” means and therefore they may or may not consider Mormons to be Christians. Since nobody has the ultimate authority on who is or isn’t a Christian, it becomes a matter of semantics and subjectivity.
Here’s an excerpt of a conversation between me and a friend of mine who believes Mormons are not Christians:
Q: Tell me more about this “cult” thing. We Mormons are always accused of being part of a cult, but we have no idea what that means. What’s a cult and how is it different than any other religion?
A: It’s probably more concise if I use the term Christian cult
Basically, a Christian cult is a group or organization that claims to be Christian, but is not. Mormonism is definitely a Christian cult.
Q: Fair enough. So what’s your definition of “Christian” and why don’t Mormons fit that definition?
A: Christians are defined by what they believe. They must believe in the historical tennants of the Christian faith in order to be deemed a Christian.
That the Bible alone is the word of God (Mormons tack on the BOM and other books)
That there is only one God (God as the uncreated creator of the universe. Not the Mormon God that was once a man, or that man can become a god, etc.)
That God is a Trinity (Mormons hold to a distorted view of the Trinity)
That Jesus is God (also the uncreated creator, not just a god and not the brother of Satan)
That salvation is by faith alone (Mormons add good works to faith based salvation)
So, there it is in a nutshell. What Christianity holds and the contrast between standard Mormon beliefs. Some similarity perhaps, but at the same time, quite a difference.
Q: So who came up with these rules in the first place?
A: Jesus, John, Peter, Paul…..they come straight out of the Bible. They were also ratified by various Church councils throughout Church history.
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And from there things get a bit convoluted and several tangents emerge. Suffice it to say my friend and I have different interpretations of the same words in the Bible. But I can say I don’t give a hoot for what was ratified by various church councils throughout church history. What authority did this “church” have to make such decisions?