Finding Our Place at Christ’s Table: Are Mormons Really Christian?
Mel Borup Chandler is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, currently works in real estate investment and property management with his wife Sandra.
Mormons and LDS are nicknames for members of The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some people have claimed Mormons are not Christians at all. Since members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormons, are definitely Christians, why do their detractors say they are not? This article will offer insight as to why detractors of the Mormons would deny them a place at the table of Christ and outlines similarities and differences with other Christian denominations.
Martin Luther is credited with being the impetus (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) for the Protestant Reformation. His initial beef with the Catholic establishment was the sale of indulgences, i.e. money for the forgiveness of sin and the selling of offices and titles in the priesthood. In 1517 he posted Ninety-Five Theses on a church door in Germany. Pope Leo X demanded a retraction, which Luther predictably refused, and he was excommunicated in 1521 and condemned as an outlaw by the emperor.
Luther rejected many essential elements of the gospel as then taught by Christian orthodoxy, and claimed that the Roman Catholic Church had lost many precious parts of the gospel anyway, and he merely sought to reform or wanted to restore true teachings. One of the gospel tenets Luther rejected was the teaching that man needed to do good works to redeem himself. He further rejected the priesthood, which he claimed was unnecessary, since he considered all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood. His theology challenged the authority of the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge.
Luther translated the Bible into the common language of the people (discarding Latin), making it more accessible, and fostering the development of a standard version of the German language. His work influenced the translation into English of the King James Version (KJV) Bible, which is the preferred Bible used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Luther also wrote many hymns and promoted “singing churches,” and his marriage to Katharina von Bora became a model for allowing clerical marriages.
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which started in Great Britain in the 1730’s and gained popularity in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was popular in the time of the Mormon Church organizer and first prophet, Joseph Smith. Its teaching required the need for a personal conversion by being “born again,” actively expressing and sharing the gospel, a demand for biblical authority, especially biblical inerrancy, and lastly an emphasis on teachings that proclaim the saving death and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
In 1842, Joseph Smith, a prophet called by Jesus Christ (friends of other faiths refer to him as a Mormon prophet) was approached by a Chicago newspaperman who requested he write an autobiographical sketch of his life and an explanation of Mormonism in a nutshell. Appended to the end of his biographical statement were his nutshell teachings of the Mormon Church in the form of the Thirteen Articles of Faith. (See History of the church volume #4, pgs. 535-541.)
The fourth article of faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (errantly called by the media, The Mormon Church) states; “We believe the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second, repentance, third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sin, and fourth, the laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Joseph’s fourth article of faith closely mirrors the first four points of ancient Jewish, Islamic and Christian belief in the symbolism of the eight pointed star. The eight pointed star appeared often in synagogues, ancient documents and tombs, and more recently in several Mormon temples.
The eight pointed star is described as two squares, 45 degrees offset, either overlaid or intertwined, creating an eight-point star. The symbol is sometimes represented with a circle inside the star. The second four points represent study, prayer, need to do good works and provide service and lastly the free will of man to choose for himself.
Here it is important to make a simple clarification regarding how time is measured. Some mistakenly believe that AD means After the Death of Christ. Actually it means Anno Domini, a Latin term meaning “in the year of our Lord.” Sometimes it is also referred to as CE for Common Era.
One of the most sacred sites in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. It is believed to be the original site of King Solomon’s temple, which was destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. During the crusades it was the headquarters of the Knights Templar. Started as a shrine for the Byzantine Catholic Church, it is octagonal in shape based on the symbolism of the eight pointed star. The Dome of the Rock was surrendered to Islam 637 CE during the Muslim conquest of Syria and was finished by Islam. According to Islamic tradition, the rock is the spot from which Muhammad ascended to heaven accompanied by the angel Gabriel. Further, Muhammad was taken there by Gabriel to pray with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. After Muhammad’s return, he called all who would believe him to join with him and be Muslim. It was at this juncture that Islam came into existence.
Additionally the eight pointed star is said to be the seal of Melchizedek. In the Old Testament, Melchizedek is said to have been living after the great flood and was a contemporary of Abraham. He was king of the city of Salem (Jerusalem) and High Priest. Melchizedek held the authority to officiate and act in God’s name under the authority of the Holy Priesthood. After the battle to rescue his nephew Lot, Abraham paid tithes of the battle spoils to Melchizedek as the high priest.
What is the Mormon Bible (The Book of Mormon), and why don’t Mormons just use the Holy Bible?
Joseph Smith was also responsible, through the power of God, for finding and translating another tome of Scripture from golden plates (brass and gold) shown to him by an angel of the Lord. The Book of Mormon is that translation. Mormon was an ancient prophet to some of the inhabitants of the Americas, a lost branch of Israelites, hence the nickname Mormons. The Book of Mormon contains the histories and struggles of some early Americans, including a visit from Jesus Christ himself after the crucifixion. It testifies as a second witness to Christ’s divinity and His worldwide mission and is intended not to replace the Bible, but instead to go hand in hand with the Bible to clarify and attest to Christ’s divinity and worldwide mission.
What About Priesthood Authority?
Mormon theology embraces the authority of the priesthood which was restored in this generation on October 3, 1836, at a temple in Kirkland, Ohio. The event is described in a book containing revelations given mostly to Joseph Smith during the early days of the restoration. The book is called the Doctrine and Covenants, and the account is found in section 110. The keys of the priesthood were given to Joseph Smith and several of his colleagues by heavenly beings. Visits included visitations from God, His Son Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, and Peter, James and John, the apostles to Christ during his ministry (See Mathew 16:13-17). Peter’s confirmation is the same by which the Catholics claim their authority; however Mormons contend that Peter never passed those keys on prior to his death, and hence they were lost, and had to be restored. There were a number of visits by resurrected, heavenly beings during the re-organization of the original Church of Christ in the modern era that led up to the establishment of the Mormon Church and giving it its claim to the authority to Act in God’s name, i.e. the priesthood.
Mormons call themselves the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (Also nicknamed LDS) for three reasons. 1) It is the Church of Jesus Christ; it is not the Church of Joseph or Brigham Young (See Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 27:8). 2) It is organized after the pattern of the same primitive church as established by Christ himself during his ministry, in which members were called Saints; (see Luke 10:1 Titus 1:7, Timothy 2: 3 regards to the organization of the Church) The term Latter day Saints distinguishes them from those in the primitive Church.
On April 6, 1830, the Savior again directed the organizing of His Church on earth (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:1) His church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see D&C 115:4) .Christ is the head of the Church today, just as he was in ancient times. The Lord has said that it is the only true church upon the face of the whole earth, for which I the Lord and well pleased. (D&C 1:30.
Just as you would not give a key to your home or car to an unknown person, so Christ has established and designated his authorized servants in His church in modern times with his own keys and authority. He has selected a modern day prophet through whom He communicates with his children today, just as He did with the children of Israel in ancient times. That spokesperson is a prophet, seer, and revelator and is the head of the Mormon Church. His name is Thomas S. Monson, and church organization also includes twelve apostles and other offices as did the primitive church.
Mormons believe that during the ensuing years after the ministry of Christ there was a gradual falling away or apostasy in the primitive church, resulting in a loss of priesthood authority after the death of the apostles. Protestants also accept and promote that there was an apostasy.
A different priesthood
As far as the Protestants go, they have a priesthood, but it is not the same priesthood as claimed by either Catholics or Mormons who both claim the priesthood through the apostle Peter.
If the Catholics claim to the priesthood is incorrect, then it follows that the Protestants claim to priesthood is likely also flawed. On the other hand if there was an apostasy as claimed by both Mormon and Protestant, alike, then a complete restoration (not a reformation) would be necessary.
A number of prominent Evangelicals have outright rejected Mormon claims and say Mormons do not worship the same Jesus Christ found in the New Testament; hence they are not Christian at all. Their claims are a stretch and appear to be an attempt to deny Mormons a place at the table of Christ.
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