Church of the Living God

Are Mormons Christians? – pt 6/8

Class description:

They believe in God. They believe in Jesus. They read the Bible and attend church every week. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them on most moral issues as well. But are Mormons Christians? And what is a Christian after all? We will look at the history of Christianity and the history of Mormonism. We will also examine doctrines of both to see where we agree and whether we have any disagreement.

(Recorded 2012-10-14)


Issues addressed in this session include:

  • Introduction to Joseph Smith
  • The spiritual climate of the 1800s
  • The First Vision of Joseph Smith
  • Joseph Smith’s other visions
  • The discovery and translation of the Book of Mormon

Class outline available here

 

Link to all posts related to this class: http://clgonline.org/category/class-are-mormons-christians

 

  • Spencer

    I really like the audience questions in this video. These are questions I would ask.  I want to answer one question made by a woman at 19:00. 

    The question as I understood it is why Mormons don’t appear to participate in Christian events such as national days of prayer and pro-life rallies. 

    #1 Being in Michigan where there aren’t as many Mormons, you just don’t have a lot of exposure to us. In the western United States, where there are more members, you would hear about our participation with and support of other Christians. Surely you’ve heard about California’s proposition 8 where we banded together with other Christians in a common cause to defend marriage as between one man and one woman. 

    #2 It’s hard to feel included when your church is officially labelled a “cult” by the official platforms of other Christian churches. It’s not that we don’t include ourselves. Quite the opposite really. It’s that we’re excluded. 

    #3 We love to help and serve other people of all faiths in our communities across the nation. Regardless of whether you agree with us or not, I think many would agree that Mormons are kind people, easy to work with, and are happy to participate in anything that promotes a better society. As a matter of fact, one of our official Articles of Faith (simple belief statements) is “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (AOF #13)

    • Thanks for the clarification Spencer. In general I always reinforce the high morals of Mormons, as well as their incredible faithfulness in giving and serving. Your high standards in these areas are commendable and the rest of us should take an example from it. I didn’t answer her specifically in this case because she was asking some very specific questions that I didn’t have the answer to. I remember in a couple cases even saying, “if I have this wrong I’m certain someone will correct me”, so – thanks for doing so!

      (I appreciate you doing so here too, because anyone from the class who chooses to follow along is now able to.)

  • Spencer

    Scott, you’re forgetting that Joseph was only 14 when he had the vision. Surely if you had a spectacular experience at 14, you’d tell the same story differently at the age of 20 or 30. You might add details or subtract details depending on whether you’re telling your wife or a reporter but it’s the same story. We can’t expect Joseph to dictate a word for word account that is exactly the same each time! After all, wouldn’t seeing Jesus Christ and God the Father be hard to put into words?! On top of that, sometimes we have experiences and only later realize the deeper importance of what happened to us.

    Here’s an example I just thought of: A young couple gets married in their early 20s. They tell their wedding story to their friends on Facebook. It means a lot to them but their marriage has just begun. 25 years later they share their dating and marriage story in a Sunday school setting. Same facts, just told different with probably more of a perspective on how important that day was. Now imagine the same couple telling the story of their marriage when they’re old and frail at a family reunion. It’s the same story but it means so much more to them because they have experience and posterity. 

    I wholeheartedly believe this was the case with Joseph Smith. When he went into that grove of trees at 14, he had a marvelous experience that surely was hard to put into words. He spent the rest of his life trying to convey that message. As he grew, his understanding of that singular experience blossomed. 

    I’ve read all 4 versions many times and all I see is consistency and added detail. I love the details and marvel that God the Father would introduce His Son Jesus Christ to such a humble and simple farm boy in upstate New York.  

    • I have a hard time accepting that Spencer. Let’s see if you accept this parallel as being reasonable:

      Imagine I witness a crime. A policeman interviews me on the scene and I say a bunch of kids broke into a store and did some general vandalism. Later, I’m called on by a detective and tell him that it was actually just one guy who looked familiar. Years later, when it finally makes it to court, I say on further reflection it was two guys that I recognized from the newspaper, and they actually broke in specifically to kill the owner because he was scheduled to testify against them in court. If you’re a juror in that courtroom, are you going to accept that I was merely giving different versions based on the circumstances?

      I could say that seeing such a traumatic event at a tender age caused me to lack the proper words to express it, but I’m betting no juror would buy that. “But I’ve spent my whole life trying to put this into words”, I’d say. At this point I’m betting even the judge is rolling his eyes. I’m having a difficult time understanding what seems to be a very low standard of evidence for Mormons. I’m afraid your explanation of different accounts in different circumstances doesn’t hold water. You don’t lie to your diary. You don’t give incomplete accounts when the press is interviewing you. When someone knows they are officially on the record, they don’t leave out the most critical details like who it was and what they said. That just stretches belief beyond reason.

      We could go at it another way too.
      Do you think that John’s visions were surprising?
      Do you think Moses had some crazy experiences on the mountain?
      Do you think seeing a crucified man walking around town would be unusual?
      What about seeing a river turn to blood and then following a fire in the sky?

      These are but a sampling of countless experiences that make Joseph’s vision look like an everyday occurrence. In none of these do we see the story change over time, or vastly different recollections by their close associates. Why is this?

      And if Joseph’s vision changed so much, how do you know he was done recalling it when he was killed? Isn’t it possible he didn’t have a chance to properly express this experience? Maybe the official LDS version is still inaccurate because the messenger met an early demise.

      I realize none of this will change your mind, but you have to appreciate the difficulty here. You are basing this on your blind faith in one person’s account. That is fine to do if you would like, but this is not the way people are convinced of things. When reasonable people are seeking truth, evidence will always trump feelings.

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