Often I’m fascinated with the use of the terms “Christianity” and “Mormonism”. To me they each invoke the desire of inclusion for many. With confidence many say they are such but for many others there is an attempt to also exclude individuals and protect the classification.
Personally I believe myself to be both a “Christian” and a “Mormon”, but what do I mean? Let me first start with the generic term, Christian, and then Mormonism:
How is a Christian defined? It used to be that if you were not Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist, you were a Christian, whether Catholic or Lutheran or Episcopal or Baptist. But it seems now that the word means something more specific. Is it considered to be an actual religion other than Catholic or Lutheran or Episcopal or Baptist or whatever. If so, what makes it different?
The technical definition may be this simple:
Christian:1. of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.
Here are some interesting facts to consider:
1. The name “Christian” was not invented by early Christians. It was a name given to them by others.
2. Christians called themselves by different names—disciples, believers, brethren, saints, the elect, etc.
3. The term apparently had a negative meaning in the beginning: “those belonging to the Christ party.”
4. It was a term of contempt or derision.
5. We can get a flavor for it if we take the word “Christ” and keep that pronunciation. You “Christians.”
6. It literally means “Christ-followers.”
7. Over time a derogatory term became a positive designation.
8. Occasionally you will hear someone spit the term out in the same way it was used in the beginning. “You Christians think you’re the only ones going to heaven.”
9. There was a sense of suffering and reproach attached to the word in the New Testament.
(What is a Christian? -Dr. Ray Pritchard, Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries)
Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, referred to as the “Old Testament” in Christianity. The foundation of Christian theology is expressed in the early Christian ecumenical creeds which contain claims predominantly accepted by followers of the Christian faith. These professions state that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and was resurrected from the dead to open heaven to those who believe in him and trust him for the remission of their sins (salvation). They further maintain that Jesus bodily ascended into heaven where he rules and reigns with God the Father. Most denominations teach that Jesus will return to judge all humans, living and dead, and grant eternal life to his followers. He is considered the model of a virtuous life, and both the revealer and physical incarnation of God. Christians call the message of Jesus Christ the Gospel (“good news”) and hence refer to the earliest written accounts of his ministry as gospels. (Wikipedia: Christian)
“Christian” is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. The word “Christian” literally means, “belonging to the party of Christ” or a “follower of Christ.” (What is a Christian)
Clearly to be Christian is to say briefly that you believe in Christ the Savior & Redeemer, you testify of Christ but are not of a particular faith or congregation. To my knowledge there is no specific “Christian” church to be a member of.
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) while a minority are members of other independent churches. Many Mormons are also either independent or non-practicing.Mormons self-identify as Christian, though some of their beliefs differ from mainstream Christianity. Mormons believe in the Bible, as well as other books of scripture, such as the Book of Mormon.The term “Mormon” is borrowed from the title of the Book of Mormon. It was first applied pejoratively to followers of Joseph Smith, but was soon adopted as a nickname and has since lost its pejorative status. “Mormon” is most often used to refer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The term has also been embraced by other adherents of Mormonism, such as Mormon fundamentalists, but rejected by other Latter Day Saint denominations, such as the Community of Christ. (Wikipedia – Mormons)
“Mormonism” is a term applied to the collective beliefs of the latter day saints. What is a “Mormon” is explained in their unique beliefs, demonstrated by their devout life style, and evidenced by their persecutions.
The term “Mormon” is not a proper term because they are not followers of Mormon; but, of Jesus Christ. The most proper name for the true followers of Jesus under Joseph Smith and James J. Strang is latter day saints; even as the followers of Jesus in all ages of the world have been called saints. The term LDS or latter day saint will be used in this work. The term “saint” is used 97 times in the Bible to describe the followers of Jesus. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12) (What is a Mormon)
In addition to being “Christian” (see above), Mormons also believe:
1) According to Mormons, a Great Apostasy began in Christianity not long after the ascension of Jesus Christ. It was marked with the corruption of Christian doctrine by Greek and other philosophies, with followers dividing into different ideological groups. Mormons claim the martyrdom of the Apostles lead to a loss of Priesthood authority to administer the church and its ordinances.
2) Mormons believe that the Lord restored the early Christian church through Joseph Smith. In particular, Mormons believe that angels (Gr. plur. αγγλοι=”messengers”) such as Peter, James, John, and John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and others and bestowed various Priesthood authorities on them.
3) Mormons believe that their church is the “only true and living church” because of the divine authority restored through Smith. They view other Christian churches as having a portion of the truth, doing good works, and being led by the Light of Christ.
4) Mormons have a scriptural canon consisting of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and a collection of revelations and writings by Joseph Smith known as the Doctrine and Covenants
As was stated above, “The Lord’s Church in both ancient and modern times has had nicknames. The Saints in New Testament times were called Christians because they professed a belief in Jesus Christ. That name, first used derogatorily by their detractors, is now a name of distinction; and we are honored to be called a Christian church.
Our members (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have been called Mormons because we believe in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Others may try to use the word Mormon more broadly to include and refer to those who have left the Church and formed various splinter groups. Such use only leads to confusion. (The Importance of a Name M. Russell Ballard Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October Conference 2011)
Although the confusion is genuine, the attempt to coin the words Mormon or Mormonism as only relating to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in my humble opinion as offensive as a Catholic stating all other believers in Christ are not Christian. Just as inclusive the category “Christian” is I feel “Mormonism” is.
“Mainstream Christianity does not like the LDS claiming to be Christians and presents many arguments to articulate their objections, but the LDS still want to be recognized as Christians.
It seems ironic to me that a column was published by editor Joe Cannon, a mainstream Mormon, presenting arguments to articulate why members of the FLDS are not Mormons, yet still the FLDS consider themselves Mormons.
If being a Christian means being a believer in the teachings of Christ, why doesn’t being a believer in the Book of Mormon make a person a Mormon?” – (How to define a Mormon-Malcolm Leitch Published: May 14, 2008)
Just as the Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints reaches out to other faiths and denominations I also feel attempts should be made to include other faiths of “Mormonism”.
* Annual Interfaith Music Tribute Performed in Historic Salt Lake Tabernacle
* Utah’s religious community celebrates diversity
* Utah religious leaders celebrate pioneers of many faiths
*BYU museum to host international Islamic art exhibit
* Regardless of religion, churches across Utah seek unity, understanding
“My challenge today is that you join with people of all faiths who feel accountable to God in defending religious freedom so it can be a beacon for morality,” Elder Cook said. “We caution you to be civil and responsible as you defend religious liberty and moral values.”
As individuals are civil in their discourse with others and an advocate for religious freedom they are able to serve mankind and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, he said…
Because of this, it is essential for individuals to join with people of all faiths to defend religious freedom and speak up, he said.
“Extraordinary effort will be required to protect religious liberty… We ask that you do this on the Internet and in your personal interactions in the neighborhoods and communities where you live,” said Elder Cook. “Be an active participant, not a silent observer.” (Restoration of Morality – Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said during commencement exercises at BYU-Idaho)
Elder Joseph B. Worthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with the Church of Jesus Christ helps clarify this further by stating in his talk “Concern for the One” the following:
True disciples of Jesus Christ have always been concerned for the one. Jesus Christ is our greatest example. He was surrounded by multitudes and spoke to thousands, yet He always had concern for the one. “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost,” (Matthew 18:11) He said. “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4)
This instruction applies to all who follow Him. We are commanded to seek out those who are lost. We are to be our brother’s keeper. We cannot neglect this commission given by our Savior. We must be concerned for the one.
Today I would like to talk about those who are lost—some because they are different, some because they are weary, and some because they have strayed.
Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.
Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.
This variety of creation itself is a testament of how the Lord values all His children. He does not esteem one flesh above another, but He “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God.” (2 Nephi 26:33)
In no way is this discussion of the terms “Christianity” or “Mormonism” an attempt to declare which faith or church is a “true” church. Nor is it to identify the faith with the “true” doctrine that insures salvation or more. That is yet another discussion to profess where the complete and full Gospel of Christ can be found. This is meant to be a more inclusive discussion to show we have more in common than less. More reason to include and celebrate our similarities. I say this to also clarify that many that I personally would classify as Mormon wish to have no association with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I actually understand that point of view, however in this text I’m obviously challenging this line of thinking. Let me conclude with this:
Religious individuals should insist on their constitutional right and duty to exercise their religion, to vote their consciences on public issues and to participate in elections and debates, Elder Oaks said.
He called for a unified, broad coalition defending religious freedoms — a proposal that doesn’t require common doctrinal ground between faiths but a shared belief that the rights and wrongs of human behavior have been established by a Supreme Being.
“All who believe in that fundamental should unite more effectively to preserve and strengthen the freedom to advocate and practice our religious beliefs, whatever they are,” he said. “We must walk together for a ways on the same path in order to secure our freedom to pursue our separate ways when that is necessary according to our own beliefs.” (Unity in Protecting Religious Freedom – Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a speech Friday at Chapman University law school)
To conclude I feel it appropriate to also add one of the tenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which reads:
We claim the aprivilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the bdictates of our own cconscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them dworship how, where, or what they may. (Article of Faith #11)
By Roger Knecht
* Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS)
* Church of Christ, also known as the Church of the Temple Lot
* Apostolic United Brethren, (AUB)
*The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days (TLC)
FOUNDED BETWEEN 1830 AND 1844
Pure Church of Christ, Wycam Clark, 1831
- The Independent Church, Hoton, 1832
- Church of Christ, Ezra Booth, 1836
- Church of Christ, Warren Parrish, 1837
- The Church of Jesus Christ, the Bride, The Lamb’s Wife, George M. Hinkle, 1840
- Church of Christ, Hyrum Page, 1842
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, F. Gladden Bishop
- True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Law, Foster, Higbee, 1844
- Church of Christ, William Chubby
NON-EXTANT MOVEMENTS FOUNDED 1844-1860
Church of Christ / Church of Jesus Christ of the Children of Zion, Sidney Rigdon, 1844
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, James Emmett, 1844
- Church of Christ, S. B. Stoddard, Leonard Rich, James Bump, 1845
- Indian Mormon, 1846
- Church of Christ, William McLellin, David Whitmer, 1847
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, William Smith, 1847
- Congregation of Jehovah’s Presbytery of Zion, Charles B. Thompson, 1848
- Church of Christ, James C. Brewster, 1848
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Lyman Wight, 1849
- The Bride, The Lamb’s Wife or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jacob Syfritt, 1850
- Church of Christ, Hazen Aldrich, 1851
Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, James J. Strang, 1844
Church of Christ, Aaron Smith, 1846
- Church of the Messiah, George J. Adams, 1861
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite)
- Holy Church of Jesus Christ, Alexandre R. Caffiaux
- House of Ephraim and House of Manasseh of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jerry Sheppard
- The True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, David L. Roberts
- Marriage Counseling Group
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, John J. Hajicek
- Strangite Believers in Pennsylvania
Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young, 1847
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Church of the First Born, Joseph Morris, 1861
The Prophet Cainan or Church of Jesus Christ of the Saints of the Most High God, George Williams, 1862
Morrisite Group, John Livingston, 1864
Church of Zion, William S. Godbe, 1868
Church of the First Born, George S. Dove, 1874
Priesthood Groups (Fundamentalists), 1890
United Order of Equality, Ephraim Peterson, 1909
The Church of Jesus Christ of Israel, J. H. Sherwood
Order of Aaron, Maurice L. Glendenning
Church of Freedom of Latter Day Saints, 1950s
Zion’s Order of the Sons of Levi, Marl V. Kilgore, 1951
The Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times, Joel F. LeBaron
The Church of the Firstborn, Ross W. LeBaron, 1955
Perfected Church of Jesus Christ of Immaculate Latter Day Saints, William C. Conway, 1958
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, John Forsgren, 1960
Church of Jesus Christ, William Goldman, 1960
LDS Scripture Researchers/Believe God Society, Sherman Russell Lloyd, 1965
The Church of the Body and of the Spirit of Jessu Christ, Max Powers, 1965
United Order of the Saints of Guadeloupe, Michel Gamiette, 1966
United Order of the Family of Christ, David E. Desmond, 1966
Split from Zion’s Order of the Sons of Levi, Eldon Taylor, 1969
Homosexual Church of Jesus Christ, Denver, Colorado, 1972
Latter Day Saints Church, N.S. Park, 1972
The Church of the Lamb of God, Ervil M. LeBaron, 1972
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Mikhail Krupenia, 1972
The New Jerusalem Group, Kathryn Carter, 1972
The Watchmen on the Towers of Latter Day Israel, Miltenberg, Braun, 1973
Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly, Alexnader Joseph, 1974
Evangelical Church of Christ, Church of the New Covenant in Christ, John W. Bryant, 1974
Split form Zion’s Order of the Sons of Levi, Barton Kilgore, 1975
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Robert Simons, 1975
Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times, Bruce Wakeham, 1975
Aaronic Order Break-off, 1977
Christ’s Church, Inc., Gerald Peterson, 1978
Church of Jesus Christ, Art Bulla, 1978
The Restorers or School of the Prophets, Robert C. Crossfield, 1979
Zion’s First International Church, LeeAnn Walker, 1980
The Free Will Mormon Church, Franklin Lee Coleman, 1980
Church of Jesus Christ, Jorge Mora, 1981
Sons Ahman Israel, Davied Israel, 1981
Samoan LDS Church, New Zealand, 1981
The Millennial Church of Jesus Christ, Leo P. Evoniuk, 1981
Peyote Way Church of God, Immanuel P. Trujillo, 1981
The Chruch of Jesus Christ of the Saints in Zion, Ken Asay, 1984
Break from the Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly, 1984
Church of Jesus Christ of All Latter-day Saints or Restoration Church of Jesus Christ, Antonio A. Feliz, 1985
Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, Robert P. Madison, 1985
Church of Christ the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times, Siegfried J. Widmar, 1985
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Fundamentalists, Wight Family, 1985
Mormon Fundamentalists, England, Alan and Marian Munn, 1986
Churchof Jesus Christ Omnipotent, 1987
Community of Zion, Central Utah Division
Church of the First Born, General Assembly
Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Church of Jesus Christ, Alpheus Cutler, 1853
Church of Jesus Christ, Clyde Fletcher, 1953
- The Restored Church of Jesus Christ, Eugene O. Walton, 1979
Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1851-1860
Church of the Christian Brotherhood, Richard C. Evans, 1917
- The Church of Christ, the Order of Zion, John Zahnd, 1918
- The Church of Jesus Christ, Thomas W. Williams, 1925
- Church of Jesus Christ Restored, Stanley M. King, 1970
- New Jerusalem Church of Jesus Christ, Barney Fuller, 1975
- Church of Christ Restored, Paul Fishel, 1976
- True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Forrest Toney, 1980
- Church of the Restoration or Churches of Christ in Zion, Robert Chambers, 1981
- Lamanite Ministries for Christ or New Covenant Ministries for Christ, 1984
- Restoration Branches Movement, 1984
- Church of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, A. Lee Abramson, 1985
- Church of Jesus Christ, Zion’s Branch, John Cato, 1986
- Church of Christ, David Clark, 1986
- Independent Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Christopher C. Warren, 1986
- Native Indian Church
Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of The Church of Jesus Christ, William Bickerton, 1862
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, Allen Wright, 1907
- Primitive Church of Jesus Christ, James Caldwell, 1914
Splinter Groups and Sub-movements of Church of Christ (Temple Lot), Granville Hedrick, 1863
Church of Christ, Independent, Informal, Frank F. Wipper, 1927
The Church of Christ, Otto Fetting, 1929
Church of Christ, P.A. Ely, 1929
Church of Christ, C.W. Humphrey, 1929
Church of Christ, Samuel Wood, E.J. Trapp, 1930
Church of Christ (Restored), A.C. DeWolf, 1936
Church of Christ, E. E. Long, Thomas Nerren, 1936
Church of Christ, Paul Hilgendorf, 1942
The Church of Christ With the Elijah Message, W. A. D. Draves, 1943
Church of Christ, Pauline Hancock, 1946
Antarctica Development Interests or the New American’s Mount Zion, John Leabo, 1955
Church of Christ at Zion’s Retreat, Gerald Hall, 1973
The Church of Israel, Dan Gayman, 1973
Break from the Church of Christ (Hancock), Davison, Michigan, 1973
The Church of Christ, Restored Gospel 1929, 1985
– SOURCE for MORMON SPLINTER GROUPS