The Question of Mormons
I got an e-mail from one of my parishioners a couple of days ago. He asked some questions about Mormons (aka the LDS), and I wrote back some thoughts. I thought this might be helpful to some. Or it might just confirm to others that I'm a judgmental jerk. Which might also be helpful. So, here it goes.
I've been curious about something for a while. I've heard you make reference to Mormons on occasion.
Mormonism has intrigued me. I had a boss who was a Mormon. He proselytized us (after I was no longer working with him). I read the Book of Mormon.
My reaction to it was that I didn't buy Jesus as he was portrayed in the Book of Mormon. He was too uforgiving. Jesus retells the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Mormon. I just didn't see Jesus as being a preacher that would re-use an old sermon. [Not that there's anything wrong with that, but one expects a little more from God Incarnate.]
I didn't buy that a person would have 12 buddies swear they saw a book before anyone knew it was going to disappear. Also, I didn't buy they whole idea of Joseph Smith translating the plates from Hebrew and Egyptian through some special lens.
I didn't buy that a bunch of Jews sailed to South America around 600 B.C. All of the Native American peoples look more Asiatic than Semitic to me.
All that said, I have always had great regard for people I've known who were Mormons, and I don't have a problem considering them to be Christians. Some people call Mormonism a cult, but I've never heard of Mormons holding anyone captive.
Am I missing something?
I have also known several Mormons, and most of them were good people.
I agree with you that the evidence they present for their faith is personally unconvincing.
I do not believe that Mormons are a cult. They seem to have started as a cult, as have many religions, but they are certainly not now a cult. However, they are not a Christian religion either. The reason I use them as examples sometimes is because they are a group that claims to be Christian, but is not. They are beyond simple heretics. A heretic has one or two false ideas. They have created an entirely different faith system but still use the name of Jesus.
Muslims and Baha'i also have a false version of Jesus in their religion. However, they don't claim to be Christian. Mormons, as well as Jehovah's witnesses, some Unitarians, some Pentecostals, some extreme liberals, etc. have created effectively new religions but still use the language of Christianity. I find it necessary to make it clear that they are outside of the Church. Anglicanism has a very broad and inclusive understanding of Christian theology. But these groups have gone so far outside that we can no longer accept them as Christian. We can respect them as a different religious group, but we also have to see them as people who need a saving knowledge of the Lord.
Mormons fit into this category because they reject basically all Christian doctrine. They would agree with practically none of the Nicene Creed. They do not believe in the Trinity. They reject the dual nature of Christ. They reject the authority of the Bible (like Muslims, they only accept things in the Bible that happen to agree with their own "holy book"). They believe the Church is apostate, and only through Joseph Smith was the truth restored to the world.
In recent years, they have made many efforts to come into the Christian fold. They have identified themselves as Christians, and have put the points upon which they agree with Christians foremost in their mission work. However, they are not a Christian church, though I imagine that there probably are individual Mormons who do know Christ.
I know that all sounds judgmental. I don't have any interest in condemning Mormons, or anyone else. But I do believe that exposing false doctrine that calls itself Christian is part of my job (its actually in my ordination vows).
I hope that helps.