Question: Do Mormons meet the definition of the word "Christian"?

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Question: Do Mormons meet the definition of the word "Christian"?

The attempt to define "Christian" in such a way as to exclude Latter-day Saints is really the recent work of a minority group within Protestantism

Some Christians claim that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not "Christian." A related claim is that the Church has only recently begun to portray itself as "Christian" in order to gain adherents.

Critics often use unnecessarily narrow and self-referential definitions of "Christian" to exclude Latter-day Saints. They ignore the fact that many other Christians over the millennia would have disagreed with them on the same points, yet this does not disqualify these other believers from the family of "Christians."

While Mormons realize that there can be honest disagreement regarding definitions, the church encourages its members, as followers of Christ, to exhibit civil dialogue:

There has been no end to opposition. There are misinterpretations and misrepresentations of us and of our history, some of it mean-spirited and certainly contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Sometimes clergy, even ministerial organizations, oppose us. They do what we would never do. We do not attack or criticize or oppose others as they do us...Strangest of all, otherwise intelligent people claim we are not Christian. This shows that they know little or nothing about us. It is a true principle that you cannot lift yourself by putting others down.[1]

The assertion that Latter-day Saints are not Christian has at its base the idea that the Latter-day Saints don't meet the definition of the word "Christian." But the meanings of words are determined by usage and acceptance. If a definition is widespread (used by many people), persistent (used over a long period of time), and established (accepted by individuals and organizations that are respected and assumed to be knowledgeable) then we can confidently state that the definition is correct and accurate.

The attempt to define "Christian" in such a way as to exclude Latter-day Saints (and many other groups that are generally considered to be some kind of Christian denomination or religion) is really the recent work of a minority group within Protestantism. The nearly-universal and nearly-2000-year-old usage of the word "Christian" has clearly included unorthodox groups that disagree, sometimes sharply, with the teachings and practices of those who claim to be able to define Latter-day Saints out of the Christian fold.

The following are some organizations and resources that classify The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Christian

The following are some organizations and resources that classify The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Christian. The range of sources from encyclopedias to media outlets to government organizations supports the fact that the definition of "Christian" includes Latter-day Saints.

  • Yahoo Directory: "Christian Denominations and Sects" off-site
  • adherents.com: "Largest Branches of Christianity in the U.S." off-site
  • beliefnet: "Faiths and Practices" index off-site
  • MSN Encarta encyclopedia: "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" off-site
  • RSN (Religion New Service): Religion Backgrounders off-site
  • PBS (Public Broadcasting Service): "The Church: A Brief History" off-site
  • BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) off-site
  • World Council of Churches (WCC): Churches off-site
  • National Council of Churches (NCC): National Council of Churches’ 2005 "Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches." off-site
  • United States Department of State: International Religious Freedom Report 2004 (Tonga) off-site

Notes

  1. Boyd K. Packer, "A Defense and a Refuge," Ensign (November 2006), 85–88.