I am not much into debating Mormonism, but Dr. Al Mohler (Southern Baptist) and Orson Scott Card (Mormon, and author of my favorite sci-fi book Ender’s Game) have begun a debate on Mormonism and Christianity at beliefnet. Though both are being very nice to one another, if you read the comments, you can see that clarity is lacking due to some typical issues with such debates, i.e. definition of terms, a lack of agreement on a common authority (e.g. the bible), and infighting on who gets to own the term “Christian.” However, I do like Mohler’s approach in discussing the obvious – that Mormonism differs in significant ways from traditional, historic, orthodox Christianity, so that regardless of who gets to claim the label “Christian,” they are NOT the same faith.
What is obvious from the debate and comments is that:
- “Orthodox” Christianity is different in some significant doctrines from Mormonism
- Mormonism rejects orthodox Christianity
- Mormonism has adopted much of the vocabulary and doctrines of Christianity, with some notable exceptions, the most damning of which is their soteriology – they don’t just believe that you should believe that Jesus died for you in order to be saved (from the coming judgment), but that you also must be baptized as a Mormon.
- The also seem to give Jesus every possible accolade save one – that he is LORD. Now, perhaps some do and I’ve missed it, but this seems to be a litmus test for whether or not one has the Spirit of God (Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3-4)
Of course, I suspect that many Mormons, like Catholics, ARE Christians despite the bad doctrine and obfuscated gospel that is typically preached in their temples/churches (and I’ve been in Protestant
cults churches that obfuscate the gospel too). But that does not make Mormon doctrines correct, and they may be leading many AWAY from the glorious, liberating gospel with their supposed “revelations” from angels.
But the question is not whether or not a supposed Christian church has the elusive ‘perfect doctrines.’ The questions are:
- Do they teach the same thing, esp. when it comes to salvation, or differing?
- If differing, how do you decide which one is correct, if either?
- How does not define the term “Christian”? By the orthodox canon, or by the apocryphal books, by a subjective feeling that one is “following the spirit of Christ?”
In fact, the term “Christian” is being deprecated and abandoned, esp. outside of the U.S., because it is associated with American culture, cultural Christianity (not individual belief, but identification with a larger group), and American foreign policy. The term “Christ Follower” is becoming much more common as a replacement for the term “Christian.”