If you spend any reading LDS apologetics or anti-Mormon websites you will notice one reoccurring question, “Are Mormons Christians?” Most LDS will say yes and argue their reasons and most “Christians” (AKA: anti-Mormons) will say no. What I find interesting is what follows. Since it is almost universally agreed in anti-Mormon circles that Mormons are not Christian, they must then define what we are.
The majority defines Mormonism as a cult, but what is a cult? The World English dictionary defines it as:
1. a specific system of religious worship, esp with reference to its rites and deity
2. a quasi-religious organization using devious psychological techniques to gain and control adherents
3. Socio- a group having an exclusive ideology and ritual practices centered on sacred symbols, esp one characterized by lack of organizational structure
4. intense interest in and devotion to a person, idea, or activity: the cult of yoga
Ok, 1,3, and 4 I can’t really debate but, on the same token those definitions fit pretty much any organized religion. The first definition is so broad I can’t think of a religion that wouldn’t fall into that category. The third definition could be argued; it would be hard to argue that the Church has a “lack of organizational structure.” The Last definition isn’t really a blanket fit either. I don’t doubt that there are numerous Mormons who have “intense interest and devotion” to the Church, it might not even be a bad thing, but I don’t think that is what anti-Mormons are driving at.
That leaves us with the second definition. Ahh! I bet you thought I was going to skip over that one. I was just saving the best for last. First I don’t think Mormonism could be considered quasi-religious. If we are nothing we are fully religious. If anything I would say most mainstream religions are “quasi-religious.” Then there is the multiple “psychological techniques” we use to gain and keep members. I just wish I knew which ones they were. I really see no difference between how Missionaries proselytize and the countless evangelicals who feel like they need to “witness” to me.
All in all, labeling Mormonism as a cult seems more like a tactic to keep others from even considering our beliefs than an accurate characterization of our beliefs.
The Fourth Abrahamic religion
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has called Mormonism the fourth Abrahamic religion:
“Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being the fourth…” http://www.christianpost.com/news/mormonism-the-4th-abrahamic-religion-29848/
Evangeilicals and anti-Mormons call this statement generous, I call it offensive. Saying Mormons are the fourth Abrahamic religion, separating us from Christianity, only insults our deep respect, devotion, and worship of Christ.
So where does that leave us? I think the most Fair and equitable way to define Mormons is Christian but different. I will be the first to admit that we do not have all of the same believes about Christ that others do. Our beliefs are distinct, that is what makes us distinct. However, we are followers in and believers of Jesus Christ. By any definition that makes us Christians.