In response to Dr. David Brown’s article “Why Mormons are Christians,” dated Aug. 13, I here give my reasons why I believe that Mormons are not Christians.
First, Mormons are not Christians because they rely on their own works for salvation (eternal life plus a relationship with God), rather than relying on the work that Jesus did for us. Brown says “we believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” In contrast, the Christian scriptures state that “by grace (a free gift) you have been saved (rescued) through faith (trust); and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). This is one essential difference between true Christianity and all other religions of the world; all other religions are humanity’s attempt to reach God (or some other form of transcendence) by means of works; only in Christianity do you find God reaching down to provide for humanity’s need, giving his only son to take our punishment for sin. Christians simply accept and receive God’s free gift.
Second, Mormons are not Christians because they believe in polytheism (many gods) rather than monotheism (one God). In the Mormon belief system, the god of this world (Earth) was once a man, and has since been able to become a god and populate this planet. Mormons hope to be able to become gods themselves, and thus populate their own planet. This chain of men-becoming-gods is polytheistic. In contrast, Christians believe in one eternal, unchanging God, without beginning or end, who created all things, including mankind in his own image. Why Brown (and other Mormons I have met) do not mention this major doctrine up front is puzzling to me. Are they ignorant of it, or ashamed of it, or deceptively hiding it for the sake of good PR?
Third, Mormons are not Christians because they base their faith on subjective criteria (feelings) rather than objective data (evidence). Mormons and their neophytes are encouraged to read the Book of Mormon and “ask God whether these things are true.” Christians are admonished to “test the spirits whether they are of God” (including teachings, ideas, philosophies and writings, 1 John 4:1). Unlike the Mormon scriptures, the Jewish and Christian scriptures (the Bible) are based on verifiable historic people, locations and events. While an inquirer may question whether the miracles (such as the parting of the Red Sea) actually happened, they would have to acknowledge that historical data outside the Bible supports the historic existence of the people involved (Moses and Pharaoh), and the places visited (Egypt and Sinai). Real Christians do not blindly believe in fables, myths and the irrational, but rather place their trust in God and his revelation that is firmly supported by reliable evidence and rational thought.
There are more reasons why I believe that Mormons are not Christians, but rather than filling an entire newspaper, I will limit my writing to these three reasons for now. I welcome dialogue on the subject, especially from Brown.
(Editor’s note: Pope is an ordained minister who currently works in St. Helena and volunteers as a deacon at Highlands Christian Fellowship in Calistoga.)