These days Mormons will frequently be heard referring to themselves as Mormon/Christian. In a world in which it seems alright for people to self-identify as Jedi Knight against the “religion” question on census returns Mormon/Christian doesn’t seem such a stretch.
Making a lot of Joseph
You will note that I have changed the order of these words in my title. It is deliberate and a kind of word play. You might read it, “What is a Christian/Mormon?” or you might read it, “What is a Christian, Mormon?” Lame perhaps but I hope it makes you think because the claim to be a Mormon/Christian is a much greater stretch than it might at first appear.
In a nice little piece for the Briefing magazine Marty Sweeney wrote about spending the day with Mormons and coming away with some clear thoughts on whether Mormons are Christians. I strongly recommend you read the article. He highlights six reasons why he thinks Mormonism isn’t Christian and picks up on key issues every time. Two in particular caught my attention because they are true, because he expresses them very well and because Mormons adamantly deny them. He writes,
“Their devotion to Joseph Smith—the Prophet—is parallel, if not greater, to that of Christ.”
“They have a sense of the sacred (places and times) that originate from their view of Joseph Smith. Any significant place Smith dwelt is somewhat of a mecca for them. I am curious if they view historic sites in Jerusalem and Israel in the same way?”
Making a lot of Jesus
I remember a Christian friend offered to send a CD of Christian choruses to a Mormon on a discussion forum I once frequented. The Mormon accepted the offer, details were exchanged privately, and the disc was sent. A couple of weeks later the Christian, on the forum, asked the Mormon what he thought of the songs. The Mormon was delighted with the disc, saying that his children loved to dance to it and it was a success with the whole family.
"One thing that did strike me about those songs though", the Mormon remarked. "You do seem to make a lot of Jesus."
Now every true Christian here is sighing as they recognise how telling that innocent remark is.
Yes, we are utterly sold out to, totally in love with, 100%, died in the wool, can't get enough of him, tell me the old-old-story mad about Jesus. And the confession that Mormons are not, the surprise expressed by this Mormon that we do seem to make a lot of him in comparison to his own Mormon experience speaks volumes and gives the lie to the claim that Mormons are Christians.
What is a Christian, Mormon?
What on earth did he think a Christian was? The clue is in the name - CHRISTian. Of course, if you think being so sold out to Jesus is freaky it can only mean you have no idea what Jesus has done for sinners. Mormonism teaches that Jesus is part of God's great plan of happiness, of which old Joseph Smith is another part.
For me, as a Christian, Jesus is the very ground of my being, the light of my life, my North star, the very plan itself, set in motion from before the foundations of the earth. The one who has lifted me from the miry clay and set my feet on a rock, the rock on which my house of faith is founded, the reason for my being, the object of my worship, my comfort in times of sorrow, my strength in times of trial, my peace in the turmoil of life, and my sure hope for eternity.
He has taken from me a heart of stone and placed in me a heart of flesh, he has opened my eyes to truth, renewed my mind, brought me to my spiritual senses and made me see that I am deeply stained to the very marrow with sin and that sin was paid for IN FULL on a cross outside Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.
He has kept me up to this moment, given me today as a gift and eternity as a sure hope. He has conquered death so that I have no need to fear that enemy, he has washed away my sins so that I need not fear condemnation and he has clothed me in his righteousness so that I need not fear being seen in my filthy sin-soaked rags.
He is my exemplar, the one who commands, "live this way", and my constant strength, the one who supplies my every need that I may indeed live this way for him.
He is with me in trials, laughs when I laugh, rejoices when I rejoice and weeps when I weep. He is closer than a brother, dearer than the dearest friend. He always hears me, always answers, bids me come closer and tell him everything. He is always glad to see me, and grieved when I neglect him, yet forgiving when I repent of my shoddy neglect.
There is none like him, he is God the Son, the one who was there in the beginning, laid the foundations of and has kept this creation by his power to this day, and the one whose coming I await eagerly. His service is my pleasure, his glory is my joy, his reputation is my constant concern, his name is my treasure.
Yes, I suppose you could say I am a Jesus freak, but if you call me by his glorious name, Christian, that will serve quite well enough. I guess only those who have been to the foot of the Cross and laid their burden there could say such things. Otherwise, I suppose they simply don’t know the Jesus of the Bible, his saving grace and keeping love and so wonder what all the fuss is about.
Read more about Joseph and Jesus
What has been your experience of Mormonism? Why not share your thoughts in the comment box below?