"Do you think I'm still a Christian?"
My friend's question startled me. I'd just sat down with Anne over a quick lunch to catch up on our lives. Childhood friends, we hadn't seen each other for years. But now, both visiting the town of our shared childhood, we were eager to renew our friendship.
Anne and I were raised as Christians. But after high school, our lives went different directions. And when Anne and her husband moved to Utah, they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the Mormon Church.
If you ask a Mormon if she's a Christian, chances are you'll receive an emphatic "Yes!" Many Mormons say they accept the Bible as God's Word, and that they believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. They'll affirm their belief in the Jesus of the Bible, and that he's central to their faith. Often they'll remind you that the name of their church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They'll tell you they believe in sin and in the need of Jesus to be their Savior. They espouse grace and teach of heaven and the glory to come. They hold high moral standards and raise strong families. It would certainly seem Mormonism is Christian.
Mormon beliefs sound so Christian because their language is similar to Christianity's. Yet on closer investigation, the actual doctrines of Mormonism differ significantly from the historic, orthodox Christian faith. That's why it's important for evangelical Christians to be aware of the following six theological differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity.
1. The Bible
In 1842, founder Joseph Smith wrote a brief history of the Mormon Church for Joseph Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, which included 13 statements he called the Articles of Faith. In number 7, Smith states: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God."
An important distinction in Mormon theology is their belief that the Bible isn't inerrant, that it's become corrupted over the years and through the translation process. Mormons say the Bible is missing important parts and doesn't contain the full gospel of Jesus Christ. At its core, Mormonism identifies biblical Christianity as an apostate and errant faith. According to Doris Hanson—a former Mormon who now works with Living Hope Ministries (www.lhvm.org), an outreach to Latter-day Saints—Joseph Smith claimed, in his book Pearl of Great Price, that Christian denominations were "all wrong … all their creeds were an abomination in his sight, and that those professors were all corrupt." Mormons have stressed they are the only true Christians, and that other branches of Christianity have lost their authority to operate.