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Amanda wrote:

Hi Mike —

Mormons are Christians.

You are welcome to your own thoughts and beliefs just like everyone else is, but please don't spread false information.

Thanks,

Amanda

  { Why are you spreading false information about the Mormons? . . . they are Christian! }

Mike replied:

Hi Amanda,

I wanted to share a similar e-mail we received from Katie.

One of my colleagues Richard addressed her concerns below. I sense they are similar to yours.

Thanks for e-mailing.

Mike

Richard replied as follows in a similar e-mail question sent in from Katie:

Hi Katie —

Thanks for e-mailing. Let me bring out the definition you offered.

You said:
a Christian is someone who professes a belief in Jesus Christ, is Christ like, and is humane.

Many people think along those lines when they speak of someone as a Christian, but the ancient churches look at it differently.

Yes, being Christ-like — being a disciple of Jesus — is a central theme of living a spiritual life. Being kind and humane is also a beautiful virtue. However, these are not the Church's definition of a Christian. The example of Scripture makes this clear: in Acts, the believers in Antioch are the first to be called Christians. One becomes a Christian by believing the Apostles' message and being baptized.

In the Church, we follow this same pattern: one is a Christian if one holds the Apostolic faith and is baptized, as the early Church did.

So if a baptized believer does something wrong, unkind, or un-Christ-like, we don't say he's not a Christian anymore — unless he goes so far as to give up believing. There are good, virtuous, faithful Christians, and there are weak, sinful Christians. I'm sometimes one and sometimes the other!

When a religious movement, such as the LDS (Latter Day Saints) or the Jehovah's Witnesses sect, comes along with many good, kind people, but with different beliefs about God and about the identity of Jesus Christ — then we are forced to admit that those beliefs are not the same as the faith of the early Church, and we consider them to be not quite within the fold of Christianity.

In contrast, the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches (Greek, Syrian, Russian, Coptic, etc. ) and the historic Protestant communities and movements (e.g. Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist) hold to the same understanding of basic doctrines:

Who God is:

There is only one God, who is eternal, without beginning or end. God is called a Trinity: that is, there are three Divine Persons in this one Being. Each is divine, omniscient, and all-powerful. Because there is more than one person in God, we can truly say that God is love.

God's relation to the world:

God created the universe freely out of nothing, and made all creatures, including the angels and us human beings.

Who Jesus is:

The Son, one of the three Divine Persons of the Trinity, wishing to save us sinners, became human, with a real human soul, mind, and body, even while He remained a Divine Person: eternal, omnipotent, and omniscient. He was born of Mary, the virgin, and He — being truly human — "is like us in all things", except that He does not sin.

What the death of Jesus means:

Jesus, the God-man, willingly suffered and died, and His self-sacrifice has infinite value to make atonement for our sins.

Jesus truly rose from the dead:

He laid down His human life freely, and — being God — He freely took it up again, gloriously on the third day of His entombment. His body is now glorified, and He has ascended to Heaven. Thus a human being is now — with body and soul — in the presence of God, the Father.

Jesus, the Son of God, remains truly divine and truly human, the eternal mediator of man and God, the High Priest whose worship is pleasing to the Father.

When you read the classic declarations of Christian doctrine — for example, the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian Creed, you'll see that these are the doctrines the Church considers most important for our salvation.

I hope all these various observations shed some light on the subject. When the Catholic Church regards Mormonism as set apart from Christianity, it's not a judgment on the individuals at all, but an acknowledgment that we have some differences in these basic doctrines.

Thanks for writing! It gives us an opportunity to answer more questions and improve the web site, and of course. it's good to hear from another person who desires to love God.

God bless!

— RC

Amanda replied:

Thank you for replying. I do appreciate it.

However, I disagree with your colleague's explanation. I find it interesting that the Catholics feel that they own the definition of what a "true" Christian is.

Mormons follow the belief in Christ being born to the Virgin Mary, believe in the Holy Trinity (however, Mormons believe God, Christ and the Holy Ghost are actually three separate beings), believe that through Christ you are saved and that Christ is the literal Savior and we await His Second Coming. As I stated in my last e-mail, everyone is welcome to their own beliefs, however, I think it is only fair to specify, when saying Mormons aren't Christians, that is according to Catholic doctrine ... not what the Bible specifies to be a Christian.

Thanks again,

Amanda

Mike replied:

Hi Amanda,

You said:
I find it interesting that the Catholics feel that they own the definition of what a "true" Christian is.

Correct! Because Christ, whose name the word Christian is derived from, founded one Church on St. Peter and his successors before ascending into Heaven — the Catholic Church.

You said:
I think it is only fair to specify when saying Mormons aren't Christians, that is according to Catholic doctrine.

No, that is according to all Catholic Christians and 95% of all Protestant Christian denominations who hold to the Athanasian Creed, which is the basis for anyone who calls him or herself a Christian today.

Anyone, including the Mormons, can call themselves Christians, but when they do, if what they believe about Christ is historically different from what Jesus' Church has taught, they are
re-defining the word Christian
to mean something other than the word's original and true meaning: what the Apostles believed and the Athanasian Creed states.

Some may falsely argue that Catholics are not Christians but we would point to what St. Pacian of Barcelona said between A.D. c.310-375:

Mike

Richard replied:

Right on.

Even the liberal World Council of Churches is only open to churches that confess the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as one God. Thus, it does not include Unitarians or Mormons.

— RC

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The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.