Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Is Mormonism A Christian Denomination?

A segment aired by CNN this morning (May 9, 2007) featured a discussion about the Mormon faith. The reporter continually made reference to Mormonism as a Christian denomination and to Mormons as Christians. Not wanting to be overly picky - this is actually not a picky matter theologically - but are Mormons Christian? CNN's reporter claimed that Mormons are Christians because of their belief in Jesus. What exactly does this mean?

First, it is my opinion that Mormonism is a Non-Christian religion. By saying this, I am not impugning Mormons in any way; I'm simply saying Mormonism stands separate from Christianity as its own religion, as would Buddhism, Islam, or any other religion. Mormons are simply not members of a separate Christian denomination and are not Christian. Although Mormons have a belief in Jesus, it is not the same as the classic Christian understanding of Jesus. Mormons do believe that salvation comes from Jesus, but their views of the trinity and his divinity depart from historical Christian beliefs. Islam, for example, views Jesus as a prophet but we would certainly not claim a Muslim is a Christian. Belief in Jesus alone does not make a person a Christian; there are important factors in how one views Jesus that are important. For instance, does one believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Is Jesus eternal? Does one believe in the Trinity? What does one believe about the resurrection? Mormon doctrine departs from historical Christianity in some major ways when it comes to these questions.

But if Mormons are not Christians, it is also important to point out they are not members of a cult, as is commonly claimed. A cult is often defined as what some would consider a "false religion." In that sense, many Christians would label Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, as cults. But the word cult can be applied to groups within Christianity or any religion. The word "cult" refers to specific sets of behaviors, such as abnormal secrecy and separating people from their friends and family members in order to enforce group behavior and loyalty. Mormons, neither Christian nor cult, are simply members of their own religion.

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