Friday, June 24, 2011

Why Is It "So Important" For Us Mormons To Be Considered Christians?

In a post on CNN's Belief Blog entitled "Explain it to me: Mormonism", Dan Gilgoff presents 10 fast facts about Mormonism which are designed to answer questions most frequently posed by the public. The presence of two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr., in the Republican presidential race, have sharpened public focus on Mormonism. There is perceptibly less public hostility expressed towards Mormonism now than in 2008, when Romney launched his first campaign. CNN has an accompanying video:

The fast facts presented by Gilgoff are not only pertinent, but accurate; he's made a positive contribution to the public discourse. But it's the comments section that caught my attention and triggered this post. I focus upon the following exchange:

Joseph June 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm:
I'm a Mormon. Reading these comments is hilarious. I think the author of the article must have done a fairly good job at being objective, since many Mormons are ticked that he didn't include all the good things, and many not-pro-Mormons are ticked that he didn't include enough of the bad things! and and your Mormon neighbors are good places to start if you want to learn more about the LDS Church. We don't have a perfect past, but not many religious or non-religious traditions do. Take what we say with a grain of salt, though, because we really do think what we're saying is good and true, so we paint things in a positive light – even the weird, sometimes unsavory parts of our faith and/or history.

When learning about something new, it's always good to hear differing opinions on things, so Anti-Mormon sites or people who are ex-Mormons can also be a good place to find out about why people have negative feelings about the LDS church. Take what they say with a grain of salt, though, as they really do think that what we believe is false and wrong and even evil, so they are going to paint things in a negative light – even the good, true, and even beautiful things about us.

Love and peace to all. – Joseph

Nic_Driver June 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm:
In your opinion, is it anti-Mormon to point out that Mormons don't practice Christianity? I know a great many Mormons and they are, for the majority, very nice people with good intentions, who treat others nicely.

That doesn't make them Christians though.

Why is it so important for Mormons to be considered Christians?

The last question is the one addressed here. Actually, it is not "so important", as Nic_Driver implies, but it is significant. The real importance is that we want to promote unity within the Body of Christ. Not a unity of denominations, but a unity in spirit.

On April 19th, 2010, the LDS Church most recently addressed this issue. The problem is that those who question whether or not Mormonism is Christian adhere to a more narrow "creedal" Christianity that goes beyond merely accepting the divinity of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible, and demand that we accept an expanded set of creeds formulated centuries after biblical writings, which are not necessarily canonical. This narrow emphasis leaves little room for new revelation beyond what is regarded as orthodoxy.

When we say we are Christian, we do not suggest that our beliefs line up perfectly with other Christians. Instead, we say that we follow Jesus Christ -- we seek to embrace Him and emulate His example. Since nearly all Christians can acknowledge that the Lord offered two commandments as primary -- to love God and to love our neighbors. Doing so makes us followers of Christ -- we suggest this is enough to supersede other differences.

While we do add to the Bible by introducing the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price as its canonical partners, we do not minimize the Bible in any way. The statement about the Bible in the Eighth Article Faith, "as it is translated correctly", is an explanatory statement, NOT a conditional statement; we accept the King James Version of the Bible as authoritative despite its acknowledged imperfections. But while authoritative, it cannot be inerrant, because it was recorded by imperfect human beings using imperfect syntax. Imperfection can NOT produce perfection. We do not use the Joseph Smith Translation because Joseph Smith did not get the chance to properly vet it before he was assassinated.

To promote greater unity within the Body of Christ, I propose a two-step litmus test of Christianity. First, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the literal crucified, buried, and risen Savior? And second, do you believe the Bible, at the very least, is the authoritative word of God? Note that we don't ask you to accept our other scriptures to be considered a Christian. If your answer to both questions is Yes, then you are my brother or sister in Christ -- even if you do not agree. With Christianity under attack worldwide from so many sources, greater spiritual unity within the Body of Christ is more imperative now than ever before.

You can certainly ask us why we consider ourselves Christians, and we'll give you our best answers; we'll take no offense. But if you tell us we're not Christians, you risk cutting off the lines of communication before they can even form.

1 comment:

ifwecouldonlysee said...

Why is it so important for us to be identified as Christians? Because we accept the Lord, Jesus Christ, as our savior. We pray in his name, he is the head of our church. Other people have given us nicknames, and call us things that take away from the meaning of our TRUE name "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." We have taken upon us the name of Christ, and seek to do his will in all things. If that doesn't make us Christian by Christ's own definition in the new Testament, then I don't know what will please these people!