Why Mormonism and Christianity are Two Different Worldviews
If you consult your dictionary for a definition of what a Christian is you’ll discover this very broad answer: “a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.” The difficulty with this broad definition is that many individuals, including Mormons, claim to believe in God, his son Jesus, the teachings of the Bible and to have been baptized. Nevertheless, there still remain distinct differences between Mormonism and Christianity, so much so, that many non-Mormons consider Mormonism a Christian cult.
I think if we define our terms more carefully it will clear up a lot of the confusion. It’s crucial to note that Christianity refers to more than just Jesus’s teachings. Christianity is an entire worldview. It entails a certain view of God, humanity, salvation, purpose, heaven, hell, and so on. The same goes for Mormonism. Even if there’s a degree of overlap in the Mormon and Christian worldviews, this still doesn’t mean that they are one in the same. The reason there’s particular overlap between Mormonism and Christianity is because Mormonism originated out of a Christian culture and borrows many things associated with Christianity. If we familiarize ourselves with the key differences between Christianity and Mormonism, however, we’ll quickly discover that they are indeed two entirely different worldviews.
Below I will introduce some of the most crucial differences between the Mormonism and Christianity:
Divinity is at the heart of the Mormon-Christian divide. Mormons are not monotheists; they believe that each member of the Trinity is a separate god, whereas Christians believe God is part of the Holy Trinity, comprised of three persons of one substance: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Mormons however, see Jesus as the literal son of the Father, God and they hold that Jesus has a physical body (D&C 130:22) and was most likely not always a god. Rather, he was born into another world and then advanced to perfection by following his Father’s plan of salvation. Mormons believe there are numerous such fathers and sons in the universe, making them in fact polytheists. They hold that they themselves have the potential to become gods if they remain a faithful Mormon and keep the “Word of Wisdom,” a law of health they believe was revealed by the Lord for physical and spiritual benefit (C&D 89).
Regarding human salvation, Mormons hold, according to their 3rd Article of Faith, that a person is “saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [Mormon] gospel.” This makes sense because the Mormon gospel is based on the idea that men are gods in embryo and are working their way to full godhood. Christians however, believe persons receive salvation as a gift, one that is not earned by their own efforts but given through grace as a result of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross (John 1:12; 3:16, Rom. 10:9-13) Although Christians believe that they will be exalted in glory and reign with God in the fulfilled Kingdom, they do not believe they will be made equal to him by becoming gods themselves. Therefore, the Christian worldview holds that humans are saved through grace while the Mormon worldview holds that works are key to receiving godhood and entering the celestial Kingdom.
Mormons accept four books as the word of God. These include, the King James Version of the Bible, but only “as far as it is translated correctly” (8th Article of Faith), The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenant and The Pearl of Great Price. Mormons believe the other books are necessary in addition to the Bible because the Bible is missing “plain and precious parts” (1 Nephi 13:26, D&C 76:20-24) and The Book of Mormon contains the “fullness of the gospel.” Christians hold the Bible alone as the word of God. They believe that the New Testament contains the inspired and accurate witness of the disciples and followers of Jesus and that according to Rev. 22:18-19 and Deut. 4:2, that to add to or detract from it is sinful.
Certainly these three differences, divinity, salvation and holy scripture, are a good starting point for examining how Mormonism and Christianity differ and why they should be viewed as two entirely different worldviews.