Examining the Fundamental Differences: Mormonism vs. Christianity
There is a lot in the press today concerning Mormonism verses traditional Christianity. With Mitt Romney, a Mormon and former bishop of the Mormon religion, having run for President, many wonder – are Mormons Christians? Is Mitt a Christian? After all, their church is labeled as “The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints”. And Mormons routinely refer to themselves as “Christians”.
The problem, however, is that many are not familiar with the Mormon religion, in terms of its origins, and its core belief system. They listen to the popular media, and hear reports about how Mormonism and Christianity are “not that different”. That Mormons are Christians too. Well, is that really the case?
The Bible, and an investigation of the reality around us, speak to us about an all-powerful heavenly Father. We see the wonders in the heavens above. And the beauty in the creation around us. Does the Mormon religion recognize the same eternal, invisible, all-powerful Creator of the universe as Christianity? As the Bible, and Jesus taught? Or do they have a different concept of God?
Mormons talk about Jesus, and label their organization as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”. In fact, many Mormons today consider themselves to be Christians. In addition, many people of various Christian denominations – Catholic and Protestant – are under the impression that Mormons might be ‘Christians’. After all, they claim to believe in God, and they speak about Jesus. They do many good works as well.
So, are Mormons Christians? Do they ascribe to the same core beliefs as traditional Christianity? What did Christians believe from the beginning? And what ARE the fundamental differences between Mormonism and Christianity? Let’s examine the evidence.
The Origin of Mormonism
The official name of the Mormon church is the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”. The Mormon religion originated in 1830 in upstate New York, when Joseph Smith published a translation of writings he said he had found and translated from “Egyptian hieroglyphics” into English. That book was entitled the “Book of Mormon”, which Mormons claim consists of writings produced by ancient American civilizations.
Mormons often refer to themselves as “Christians”, however their beliefs and practices differ significantly from Christianity. For example, here are some key differences (more later in this article):
- While Christians consider the Bible as the inspired Word of God, Mormons have added other ‘sacred texts’ to their list of holy books
- Christians and Mormons differ on the nature of God - for example, Mormons consider God the Father to be a glorified physical being, like unto ourselves – while Christians believe (according to the Bible) that God the Father is a spirit.
- Christians hold that God is Trinity: one God, manifested in three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Mormons deny the Trinity, and instead believe that God the Father, Son and Spirit are three distinct physical beings who are “one in purpose”
- Christians maintain that since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, humankind has been stained by sin (“Original Sin”). This “sin defect” has been passed down from Adam, the fist man, to all of humankind. And it is Jesus, and accepting Him as Lord and Savior, which saves a person from this stain of sin and the doom it entails. Mormonism denies the doctrine of Original Sin.
- Symbols: Mormonism has no official symbol, other that a statue of the “Angel Moroni” which sits atop many of the Mormon temples. Christians have traditionally used a “cross” as a symbol, since it was on a wooden cross that Jesus was crucified by the Roman authorities. Christians also use a “fish” symbol, since this dates from the 1st century AD and was used at that time as a symbol of Christianity as well.
Early Mormons faced intense persecution due to their beliefs, so the religious leaders relocated their operations from New York, to Missouri, to Illinois in rapid succession. It was in Illinois that the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, was killed by a mob. His successor, Brigham Young, led a migration of Mormon followers from Illinois to the Great Salt Lake, in what is now Salt Lake City, Utah. And it is there that the Mormon religion established its world headquarters.
There are about 14 million Mormons today, with more than half living outside the United States. Some very successful Mormons include the founder of the Marriott hotel chain, as well as Mitt Romney,former governor and presidential candidate.
The Origin of Christianity
The Christian faith dates from the first century, shortly after the death and resurrection of its central figure - Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The earliest writings of the Christian movement, captured in the pages of the New Testament portion of the Bible, refer to this Jesus as “Lord Jesus Christ”. Jesus is not portrayed as a man that through good works is developing into a ‘god – but rather the eternal Son of God and Son of Man that was prophesied in the pages of the Jewish Scriptures for thousands of years:
- Lord, because they revered Him as the divine Son of God
- He was called Jesus, because according to the Bible “He was to save people from their sins”
- Christ was a title applied to Jesus by His followers, since that is the Greek equivalent of “anointed one”, and Christians held that Jesus was the anointed one of God – the Messiah.
The thing that distinguished Christianity from all other religions is that Christians believed something very extraordinary had happened – that Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified by the Romans and Jewish religious leaders, and had been put to death, had literally raised from the dead!
The tomb was found empty, and the Roman and Jewish leaders had no explanation. Furthermore, there were numerous testimonials from people who had seen the risen Jesus. Not only that, but the followers of Jesus – who had previous fled in terror – were now fearlessly preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead. They seemed to be leading power filled, transformed lives. In fact, one leader of the time remarked that they were “turning the worl upside down”.
The founding of the early Christian church is documented in the book of Acts in the Bible. It was in Jerusalem, shortly after the resurrection and departure of Jesus, that the first followers of Jesus were transformed to be powerful speakers and leaders of this new faith.
Thousands initially came to know Jesus through the explosive growth of the early church. Eventually, millions were added to this growing faith during the years 33 AD through the first few centuries.
The early Church leaders consisted initially of Jesus Himself, of course, and then after His departure in approximately 33 AD, the Apostles and disciples that were His first followers. James, the brother of the Lord, became the leader of the central church in Jerusalem (see the Bible, book of Acts). Paul, a persecutor of the early Christian movement, also became a follower and Apostle after seeing a vision of the Lord Jesus. The Apostles spread across the Roman empire, preaching and teaching “the good news”:
that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, had come to earth to live a perfect life, and sacrifice Himself as the perfect sin offering to save humankind from sin and provide “who so ever believes” with everlasting life. (John 3:16)
According to the Bible, it was in the first century in the city of Antioch that the earliest followers of Jesus were called“Christians”.
What the Early Church Believed in as Christians
The Mormon religion claims that it is the “restored” church of Jesus Christ, since the true Christian faith was according to their teachings “corrupted” soon after the departure of Jesus. They also claim to be the true Christians.
While it is true that the Christian Church splintered into denominations, the core of what Christians believe today is exactly the same as it was 2,000 years ago. Foundation beliefs of the first Christians were and still are today:
- That all things, visible and invisible, were created out of nothing by an all-powerful Creator God. One can find much evidence of how the early church believed an all-
powerful God created the heavens and the earth (the “cosmos”) out of nothing. In point of fact, this is the essence of Genesis 1:1. Here is an example what early church leaders had to say:
“We hold, however, the rule of truth, according to which there is one almighty God, who formed all things through His Word, and fashioned and made all things which exist out of that which did not exist.” Against Heresies, Irenaeus – AD 180
- That God is a Trinity - One God, manifested in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The teaching that God is Father, Son and Spirit – a Tri-Unity – is all throughout the Bible, starting with Genesis 1:1, and proceeding through Revelation. The early church also proclaimed, wrote and taught this:
“… But the Son of God is His Word in idea and in actuality; for by Him and through Him all things were made, the Father and Son being one. And since the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son by the unity and power of the Spirit, the Son of God is the mind and Word of the Father.” (Athenagoras, 177 CE.)
For more evidence of early Christian belief in the triune nature of God, see our article on The Holy Trinity.
- That Jesus Christ was and is the eternal Son of God, and that He has always existed as the Second Person of the Godhead. Here is what the Bible has to say, and a prominent early church “father” …
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us..”" Here we note in Scripture that Jesus was already existent with God the Father “in the beginning”. (John 1:1, 14)
“Formerly he [Jesus] appeared in the form of fire and the image of a bodiless being to Moses and the other prophets. But now in the time of your dominion he was, as I have said, made man of a virgin according to the will of the Father for the salvation of those who believe in him, and endured contempt and suffering so that by dying and rising again he might conquer death.” (Justin Martyr, AD 155)
If the Mormon religion was truly the “restored” Christian Church of the latter days, then it follows that they would hold to these same core doctrines. However, they do not.
- The Mormon religion rejects creation “ex nihilo” (that the universe was created out of nothing), and instead believe that matter is eternal, and that “creation” involved God organizing existing matter. This contradicts the findings of modern science, that all matter (visible, and invisible (dark matter)), time and space was created out of nothing, as a result of the “big bang” (the singularity event).
- Mormons reject the core doctrine of the Trinity - that God is a compound unity – one God, manifested in three Persons. Instead, Mormons hold that God is three distinct physical beings, each with a physical body (three Gods).
- Mormonism rejects the Christian teaching that Jesus was and is the eternal Son of God, of one “substance” with the Father. They reject the Christian teaching that Jesus has always existed. Instead, they propose that Jesus had a beginning and was born like every other “spirit being”. Like Jesus, we each can “progress to Godhood”, given that we join the Mormon religion and follow Mormon doctrine.
Earliest Core Christian Beliefs: Encapsulated in the Nicene Creed
There were several “creeds” that developed within the Christian church in the first few centuries, primarily as a response to the growing number of divisive attacks on the early Christian church. These creeds were a summary of the essence of the “Christian faith”, and what it means to be “a Christian”.
The earliest of these “creeds” was the Nicene Creed, agreed to at the council of Nicea, in 325 A.D. A later version of these was the Anathasian Creed, dated 500 A.D. These creeds spelled out clearly what one had to believe to call themselves a “Christian”. Although there are many “denominations” of Christians – Catholic, and Protestant sects – all will agree on these basic core tenets of the Christian faith…
The Nicene Creed, 325 AD:
“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
Things to note about this important creed, which summarized the core of the Christian faith:
- The creed states that there is “one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” (not multiple Gods).
- It further states that ”We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.” Notice:
- Jesus is eternal
- He is “not made”
- He is of one Being with the Father – not a separate being.
- The Holy Spirit is referred to as a Person, and “with the Father and Son” is worshipped and glorified.
Some Key Differences: Mormonism vs. Christianity
Many Gods vs. One God
Mormonism: There are many Gods.
- Brigham Young – Journal of Discourses 7:333 ”How many Gods there are, I do not know. But there never was a time when there were not Gods”.
- The trinity is three separate Gods:The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. “That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35.).
- Joseph Smith, as a result of his “First Vision”, primarily rejected the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity (History of the Church); and instead taught that God the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct “personages”–Jesus Christ and the Father having glorified immortalized bodies and the Holy Ghost a spirit body. (Mormonism and Christianity - Wikipedia)
Christianity: There is only one God in three Persons – the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. A composite unity, otherwise known as the Holy Trinity. This is what the Bible teaches, and what Christians believe.
- Deu 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is One!“
- Isa 43:10 “…that you may know, and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after me.”
- John 10:30-31 “I and My Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.”
- John 10:38 “...the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” The Father and the Share the same divine nature.
- John 8:58: “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM”. Here Jesus is expressing His eternal nature -that before Abraham was born, He was already existing. In fact, here Jesus uses the exact same expression that God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush.
- Colossians 2:8-9: ”Christ, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form.”
- Galatians 4:6: “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out “Abba, Father!”. The Trinity is referenced here, and in many place throughout Scripture.
- Acts 5:3-4 “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your hear to lie to the Holy Spirit…? ..You have not lied to me but to God.”
- Matt 28:19 Jesus told his followers: ”Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Notice it is in the “name” singular, not plural, that we are to baptize new believers.
- For more evidence that Scripture teaches about the triune nature of our God, please see our article on the Holy Trinity. This was also most certainly the belief held by the early church, and the same belief that is encapsulated in the Nicene Creed, the Anathasian Creed, and the Apostles Creed.
The Nature of God the Father
Mormonism: Holds that God the Father is an exalted man (a man who has progressed to godhood), with a physical body of flesh and bones.
- Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1973 ed., p. 346: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man… I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in a form – like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man.”
Christianity: Maintains that God the Father is the eternal, uncreated, invisible, all powerful, all knowing, Creator of the universe. These beliefs are based on the Bible, on he earliest teaching of Christianity, and backed by what science says about how the known universe came into being.
- The Biblical evidence:
- Gen 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (the cosmos).
- John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
- 1 Tim 1:17 “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
- Num 23;19 ““God [is] not a man, that He should lie,Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
- Due 33:27 “The eternal God [is your] refuge, And underneath [are] the everlasting arms..”
- Psalms 90:2 “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
- The scientific evidence:
- The universe had a beginning, some 14.5 billion years ago, know popularly as the “Big Bang”. In that moment, all matter, time, and space was created. The laws of physics as we know them were also put into place.
- A well known law of science is the universal law of cause and effect. The universe was the effect, God the almighty was the initial Cause that “wound up” the universe and put into into play (“Let there be light, and there was light).
- The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that all matter is proceeding to a state of increasing entropy (disorganization or randomness), and that this universal clock is winding down, implies that initially it must have had a beginning.
- Only an all-powerful Creator God could do this!
The Person of Jesus Christ
Mormonism: Jesus is not the eternal, uncreated Son of God, but rather man’s “spiritual brother”. According to Mormon doctrine:
- “Jesus is man’s spiritual brother. We dwelt with Him in the spirit world as members of that large society of eternal intelligences, which included our Heavenly Parents and al the personages who have become mortal beings upon this earth or who ever shall come here to dwell… Jesus was the‘firstborn’, and so He is our eldest brother.” (The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 21)
- Notice the reference to “eternal intelligences”, a doctrine which conflicts with the findings of modern science: ie., that all matter, space and time was created in the singularity 14.5 billion years ago (see comments below as well).
- The Bible uses the term “first born” with reference to Jesus to say hat He is pre-eminent among all those born to human kind:
- Col 1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
- Col 1:18 “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
- Rev 1:5 “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.”
- Notice the Mormon misuse of the term “firstborn”. When the Bible refers to Jesus as the “first born”, it is an indication of pre-eminence – not an indicator of order of natural birth. Mormon theology is re-positioning the biblical reference to imply that Jesus is literally the first born of many brothers to come - not what the Bible is teaching.
Christianity: Jesus Christ is God the Son, the eternal, second person of the Holy Trinity, ”begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father” (Nicene Creed 325 AD). According According to the Gospel of John:
- John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”
- John 1:14 “and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Points to Note:
- When all things were created in the beginning (at the “big bang”), the eternal Word of God - Jesus – was already in existence. There was never a time when He was not.
- Jesus claimed preexistence with God the Father when said:
- John 8:58: “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (here He is using the same name that God claimed for Himself when He spoke to Moses out of he burning bush).
- John 17:5 “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.“
- Jesus claimed to be “one” with the Father: “I and the Father are one”. Jesus here and in many other instances claimed unity with the Father God of the universe, for which the Jewish leaders eventually sought to put Him to death.
Mormonism: Recognizes the Bible as the inspired Word of God, but to the Bible has added additional “sacred texts”:
- The Book or Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price
- These texts were written in the 1800′s, and according to Mormonism, add additional revelations to what the Bible teaches.
- According to Wikipedia, “the Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421.
- It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi.”
- According to Smith’s account, and also according to the book’s narrative, the Book of Mormon was originally written in otherwise unknown characters referred to as “reformed Egyptian“ engraved on golden plates. Smith claimed that the last prophet to contribute to the book, a man named Moroni, buried it in a hill in present-day New York and then returned to earth in 1827 as an angel, revealing the location of the book to Smith and instructing him to translate and disseminate it as evidence of the restoration of Christ’s true church in the latter days.
- Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that it was fabricated by Smith, and that portions of it were plagiarized from various works available to him. Works that have been suggested as sources include the King James Bible, The Wonders of Nature,View of the Hebrews, and an unpublished manuscript written by Solomon Spalding.
- For some followers of the Latter Day Saint movement, unresolved issues of the book’s historical authenticity and the lack of conclusive archaeological evidence have led them to adopt a compromise position that the Book of Mormon may be the creation of Smith, but that it was nevertheless created through divine inspiration.”
- The National Geographic Society, in a 1998 letter to the Institute for Religious Research, stated “Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere’s past and the society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon.”
Christianity: Holds that the Bible is the unique, inspired written Word of God to humankind.
- The Bible - Old and New Testaments – was written by 40 different authors over a 5,000 year period. Yet is amazing unified. Christians maintain it is the unique, inspired, written Word of God.
- The books of the Old Testament were in place approximately 200 BC, in the form of the Greek Septuagint. The New Testament books were in place about 170 AD., listed in the Muratorian Cannon. For more information see our article on the reliability of the Bible.
- It is the best selling, most popular sacred text of all time – bar none.
- The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, has been substantiated repeatedly by archaeological evidence. Numerous excavations in Jerusalem have substantiated the activities of several ancient Jewish kings; ruins in Rome, and in Egypt, testify to the capture of the ancient Israelites. Amazingly, archaeology continues to corroborate the Bible. For more information on archaeological evidence supporting the Bible, visit the Biblical Archaeological Society.
- The Bible is amazingly unique in its “unity” - the Old Testament prefigures the coming of the Messiah. Yet in the New Testament, the books continually refer back to and fulfill the writings of the Old Testament.
- One of the attacks on early Christianity and the early church came in the form of deceivers trying to add other “so-called gospels” and writings.
- This is why Paul, in one of his letters, wrote “see how I write this with my own hand”; because there were many forgers and deceivers that had gone out among the early church, publishing fake writings in the name of the Apostles, to try to draw away and confuse the small but growing body of believers.
- The formation of the “cannon” of New Testament Scripture was actually precipitated by and in response to this continuing stream of fake writings - so that the early church had a uniform list of the true, inspired writings of God that were being read in the early churches. This became what we now have as the Bible – the Hebrew Old Testament, and the books of the New Testament. See the reliability of the Bible for more information on the uniqueness and authority of the Bible.
God and the Nature of Matter
Mormonism: God is not an eternal, uncreated Being. He had a beginning like all other eternal “spirit beings”.
- All spirit is self-existent matter and is eternal (without beginning or end). This “matter”, called “intelligences” by Mormonism, sometimes becomes organized into a “spirit being” through birth to “celestial parents”. Then that spirit is born through human parents on earth.
- Like all people, God the Father took this path, and eventually reached Godhood. He remains God as long as intelligences continue to support him as God.
Source: Doctrine and Covenants 93:29,33; Abraham 3:18-23; Mormon Doctrine, 1977 Ed. p 751)
Christianity: God is an eternal, uncreated, supremely powerful, all-knowing self-existent Being. He is the uncreated, first cause of all things.
- He alone created all things, both “visible and invisible” (think matter, and what we now call ‘dark matter’). Biblical references:
- Gen 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (what today we call the ‘cosmos’)
- Isa 44:6b “I am the First and the Last; Besides Me there is no God.”
- Isa 44:24b “I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone..”
- Isa 45:5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me..”
- Isa 45:12 “I have made the earth, and created man on it. IT was I – My hands that stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded.”
Notes: Note that modern science directly contradicts Mormon doctrine, in that modern science holds that …
- Matter is NOT eternal, but had a point of origin, along with time and space.
- That all matter was created in a split second, about 14.5 billion years ago (in a singularity known popularly as the “big bang”)
- That matter, which initially began in a high organized state, is “winding down”, and will eventually end in a state of disorganization or “entropy”(Second Law of Thermodynamics)
- In contrast to Mormonism, which claims that matter is eternal, Christianity is in agreement with science: in Genesis 1:1, the Bible proclaims that “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. The word “created”, or ‘bara’ in Hebrew, when taken in context, means to ‘create out of nothing’.
- This is precisely what modern science now maintains, based on extensive evidence: that all matter, time, and space was ‘created out of nothing’, in a single moment, some 14.5 billion years ago.
Sin and Salvation
Mormonism: salvation is by grace, but equally dependent upon good works.
- “Jesus’ sacrifice was not able to cleanse us from all our sins, (murder and repeated adultery are exceptions),” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, 1856, p. 247).
- “If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation [the context is the full gospel including exaltation to Godhood] outside the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 670).
- Good works are necessary for salvation (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 92).
- “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do,” (2 Nephi 25:23).
Christianity: all humankind “falls short” of the glory of God, and is flawed by the stain of sin. Salvation is obtained through faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross, where He paid the ultimate price for all of humankind’s sins, once and for all.
- There is nothing that one can do to add to that all sufficient sacrifice that Jesus made. All that is required, “the good work that we must do”, is to believe on Jesus.Rom 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
- Good works are prepared for us by God in advance, that we should “walk in them” and do them to bring glory to God, and to help and show our love to others. But they are not a basis for salvation.
- Eph 2:8 “For by grace are your saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Mormons vs. Christians: Key Differences
To summarize, here are the key doctrinal differences that separate Mormonism and Christianity. And these are not “minor” differences. These are fundamental to the Christian faith. They have been there from the days when Jesus walked among us, and when the early followers of Jesus began proclaiming “the good news”:
- Christians believe that God is a Trinity - ONE all powerful, all knowing, all present, eternal Creator, manifested in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father, the origin and culmination of all things; God the Son, Jesus, Savior, the eternal Word of God, through whom God speaks, and through whom all things were made, and “are held together”; and God the Holy Spirit, who inhabits the hearts of believers, and directs them on their walk with the Lord. Not three separate physical beings, “of one purpose”.
- Christians believe that God the Father is a Spirit - not a physical being, like unto ourselves. He is the eternal, uncreated First Cause of all things. He has no body, and never did. “God is a Spirit, and those that worship must worship Him in Spirit, and in truth”.
- Christians believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, “begotten not made”, of one substance with the Father.Jesus is not a created “child of God the Father”, as was Satan and other “spirit beings”. Christians hold that there never was a time when Jesus was not. He was and IS the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, through whom God spoke to bring into being all things (John 1).
- Christians believe that the Bible alone is the unique, inspired,written Word of God to human kind. What we have as the Bible was solidified and established as early as 170 AD. It alone is recognized as Scripture by the Christian church, and cannot be and should not be “added to” with other so-called inspired works such as the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, etc. The Bible alone is the inspired written Word of God, and no other.
- Salvation – one’s “right-standing” with God is based on God’s “unmerited favor” – grace; NOT “works plus grace”. There is nothing that we can add to God’s finished work on the cross. One is saved and right with God because of one’s faith and reliance on Jesus Christ, and His finished work on the cross. Yes, it is true that works are laid out for us in advance by God, that we should “walk in them” and do God’s bidding. But they are are not a basis for right-standing with God according to the Bible, and Christianity.
This is what Christians believe, and it hasn’t changed since the time of Jesus – almost 2,000 years ago. These are the core beliefs of the Apostles, the first disciples, and the early church. These are core, fundamental differences that distinguish Christianity from Mormonism.
What will it be: a Religion based on Works, or a Relationship with the Living Lord?
True Christianity is all about Relationship – not religion. Salvation is based upon a sincere, on-going TRUST and total reliance in the Lord Jesus to be your one and only justification before God.
Rom 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Head knowledge is not enough – as it says in James, “the demons believe (head knowledge), and they tremble.”
Mormons stress the importance of ‘good works’, and yes, good works are something that Christians should naturally do as an outcome of their walk with the Lord. But hey are not a condition for salvation. There is absolutely nothing that ‘good works’ can addto the finished work on the cross that Jesus did. Nothing. Works are a result of our faith and trust in Jesus, prepared for us in advance – that we should take advantage of them and practice them. But works as a basis for acceptance before the LORD – no. You must give your LIFE to the Lord, holding nothing back. Its all or nothing.
“For by grace are you saved, through faith – and that not of yourselves – it is the gift of God - not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Salvation is about being “born again” - its that dramatic. Its about repenting from your old, self-centered life, and giving your life totally to the Lord. Once saved, true Christianity is all aboutgrowing daily in the knowing and wisdom of the Lord Jesus - “for in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom”. Through fellowship, prayer, reading the Bible, and walking daily in His presence, we grow closer in our relationship with the Lord. “Walking in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” Its not about glorifying oneself with a bevy of good works, which one can point to attain ‘godhood’.
What will Your Choice be? Religion, or a Relationship with the Risen Lord?
So which is it? Do you place your faith and trust in the religion of Mormonism – or do you choose a relationship with the one and only Jesus Christ, the living Lord of Creation?
The truth is that we are all sinners, created to be in relationship with our maker. We all have a “God-sized” hole in our hearts – a hole that we try to fill with all sorts of things – possessions, success, money, sex, etc. But in the end none of this truly satisfies. No religion can bring you into a personal relationship with the LORD – because as it is written, “there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved”, and that name is JESUS. Much as some would like to believe, “good works” do NOT justify us before a holy, eternal, perfect God. ONLY Jesus and the sacrifice He paid on our behalf can do that. Yes, “good works” are what every Christian should practice, but these are the fruits of the Spirit, and are “prepared for in advance by God, that we should walk in them”
Make no mistake – only the Lord Jesus Christ bridges the gap between Man and Maker.
Do you know Jesus? If you do, then you have everything to look forward to – in this life, and in the life to come. Peace with God, joy in your daily life, fulfillment of God’s purpose while here on earth, and life eternal. You were made for a purpose, and your daily walk with Jesus will help you come to realize His purpose in your life and fulfill it.
Give Jesus a chance! Don’t put it off. Allow Him to come into your life and make you “a new creation”! You have nothing to loose everything to gain. Here is a link to Billy Graham’s web site that can show you how you can invite Jesus into your life and be the creation He has always intended you to be:
Take Me to Steps to Peace With God ==> http://www.billygraham.org/SH_StepsToPeace.asp
Mormonism vs. Christianity Sources
Contender Ministries: http://contenderministries.org/mormonism/comparison.php
Religion Facts: http://www.religionfacts.com/mormonism/comparison.htm
The Blue Letter Bible: http://www.blueletterbible.org/
CARM: What Does Mormonism Teach? http://carm.org/teachings-of-mormonism
Recovery from Mormonism: http://www.exmormon.org/
Wikipedia: Mormonism vs. Christianity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Christianity
The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1 – by William A> Jurgens
What is Mormonism? http://www.whatismormonism.com/
Got Questions.org: What is Mormonism? http://www.gotquestions.org/Mormons.html