Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mormons Are Christians Too

I recently decided to create a Facebook page called, "Mormons are Christians too".  This was in response to anti-Mormon comments I received while visiting another Christian page.  I wanted to create a place where we could discuss religion without all of the arguing, name calling, and anti-Mormon sentiment.  Being that I am the administrator of the group, I have the power to remove anyone who makes hateful or anti-mormon comments, or who is there just to argue.  I wanted it to be a different kind of page.   It is another part of my effort to help the Christian world see that we are Christian too.

So in this blog post I would like to discuss some of the arguments I hear about why we shouldn't be called Christian.  I would like to discuss why we call ourselves Christian, and also how we differ from the rest of the Christian world. 

One of the arguments that I often hear from anti-Mormons is that we must not be Christian because we are called "Mormons".  I tell them that the term "Mormon" is not the name of our church, but a nickname given to us by others.  I was thinking today that it could be likened to terms like "Episcopalian", "Protestant"etc.  We prefer the nickname "LDS" or "Latter-day saint".  But the actual name of our church is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints".  The very fact that the name of Jesus Christ is in the name of the church, should give people a clue that we believe in Jesus Christ, but for some reason they often overlook this fact. 

Although our interpretations of the Bible differ from other Christian religions in some ways, we do believe the Bible, and follow the teachings of Jesus that are found in it.  Some may say that because we interpret some things differently, then we must not be Christian.  But even among the accepted Christian religions of the day, there are many different interpretations of the Bible.  Some Christian churches believe in repentance and baptism, while others don't.  I have a gay friend who had to "shop around" before she could find a Christian church that agreed with same gender marriage.  So the spectrum of Christianity, even within the Christian religion, is quite varied. 


One of the arguments I most often hear is that because we have additional scripture, we must not be Christian.  Just yesterday, someone told me that we must not take away from, or add to the Bible.  I explained that we haven't added to or taken away from the Bible.  We use it just as it was translated in King James time.  The Book of Mormon stands separate as a separate witness that Jesus is the Christ.  We believe that it follows the "law of witnesses" that says that " the mouth of two or three witnesses shall all things be established".  It stands as a second witness that Jesus is the Christ.  It is the witness of a second group of people who saw the resurrected Christ, and left behind their witness that He indeed did rise from the dead, and is the Savior of the world. 

Some people have shared a specific scripture from the Bible to try to argue that we must not have any scripture except the Bible.  One of the common scriptures they share is found in Revelation 22:18,19: 
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
We believe this scripture is specifically talking about the book of Revelation.  In fact, if we look at the chronological writing of the books of the New Testament, Revelation was not actually written last.  If we were to apply that scripture to the entire Bible, we would have to eliminate many other books that are currently found in the New Testament.  In a talk on this subject, Elder Howard W. Hunter said, "It is also interesting to note that John himself added to scripture after writing the book of Revelation, which is generally conceded to have been written while he was on the Isle of Patmos. It was long after John left Patmos that he wrote his first epistle. This fact standing alone would be sufficient to defeat the claim that revelation was closed and that man was enjoined from adding to scripture. This adds cumulative evidence that John had reference to the book of Revelation only. 
In the Old Testament also are found similar vigorous denunciations and commands that there shall not be taken away or added to the words that were written. The first is found in Deuteronomy, written at the time Moses was exhorting Israel to live the law of the Lord. The Torah was oral law and had not been reduced to writing prior to the time of the codification of the law in Deuteronomy. Now that it had been reduced to writing by Moses prior to his death and assumed to be complete, Moses wrote:
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:2.)
Later in this same book of the law, Moses repeated the admonition in similar words. He said,
“What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” (Deut. 12:32.)
In the minds of some, these admonitions in the Old Testament raise the same question as to the Book of Mormon being an attempted addition to scripture as does the injunction and warning at the end of the book of Revelation. In effect, these passages contain the same injunction as the one at the close of the Apocalypse; and if the same interpretation and argument was applied to them as is applied to the closing verses of the book of Revelation, there would be no scripture after the writings of Moses. Such an absurdity would result in discarding the greater part of the Old Testament and all of the books of the New Testament.
A careful reading of each of these admonitions makes it clear that man is not to make changes in the revelations of the Lord: man is not to add to or take from the words of God. There is no indication or intimation that God could not, or would not, add to or take from; nor would any reasonable person with a belief in the divine powers of God consciously believe that God would be so restricted. Without question he would have the right and power to give additional revelation for the guidance of his children in any age and to add additional scripture."  (Conference address April 1981 "No Man Shall Add to or Take Away)

 Many people have told me that I worship a "false Christ" because our view of the Godhead is different from most of Christianity.  My understanding is that most of the Christian world take their view of the Godhead from the Nicene Creed which states that God is without body, parts, or passions, and that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one being. This creed was written some 300 years after the death of Jesus Christ, at a time when we believe a great apostasy had already occurred.  In a recent conference address, Elder Jeffery R. Holland said, "Indeed no less a source than the stalwart Harper’s Bible Dictionary records that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament].
If God does not have a body, then why was it so important for Jesus to resurrect His?  And why did he appear to His disciples and show them His body, and have them touch it and feel it for themselves?  We believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings.  God the Father, and Jesus Christ both have physical, tangible bodies.  They are glorified, perfect and immortal.  Jesus Christ is literally the "only begotten of the Father in the flesh".  What might be confusing to some is the view of God from the Old Testament.  We believe that the Savior did appear to some in the Old Testament times, but that because He had not yet been born to a physical body, He appeared in Spirit.  When He appeared in a burning bush to Moses, it was as a Spirit.  In the New Testament we read about His birth to this world, and then subsequent death and resurrection.  In His appearances after that, He has always appeared with His physical body.  An example of this was when he appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. 


Many people cringe at the thought that we believe in living prophets.  So many people have told me that I follow a "false prophet".  The Christian world today seems to believe in false prophets, but not true prophets.  But throughout time, God has had prophets through whom He revealed His will.  In Amos 3:7 we are taught an important truth:  "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."  If God works through prophets, then where are the prophets today?  We believe that a true prophet stands at the head of our church, and that God reveals His will through Him.  Why would God, during the most tulmultuous time in the history of the Earth, withdraw from His people, and cease to give revelation and guidance?  Some might say that the guidance given in the Bible was enough.  But how can we know how to proceed in these modern times without modern revelation?  Throughout the Bible, we see prophets through whom the Lord revealed His will.  We believe that same pattern is followed today.  Today our church is organized with twelve apostles, and a prophet to lead us.  Jesus Christ stands at the head of the church, but reveals His will to the prophet.  As members of the church, we have the right to a witness from the Holy Ghost to know whether or not he is a true prophet.  Any who fear they are following a false prophet can pray to God and find out for themselves.

In conclusion I want to emphatically state that I am a Christian.  To me this term means that I believe in Jesus Christ.  I do not identify with many of the beliefs of other Christian religions, but I do believe in Christ.  Some have said that I believe in a "false Christ" because I do not believe in the Christ described in the creeds.  That same argument could be used against them, but I allow others the freedom to worship how they see best, and I hope that we can all work together to build peace and harmony on this earth.  I believe in Christ.  I am a Christian. 

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