Monday, January 23, 2012

Are Mormons Christians? The Latter-Day Saint View of the Nature of God

Once in a while over the past couple of years I have written a post as part of the "Every Weird Thing You Wanted To Know About Mormons But Were Afraid To Ask Because Then The Missionaries Might Show Up At Your Door" series. In light of the current "Mormon Moment" (L.D.S. in politics, L.D.S. on reality t.v.), I am posting this piece on Mormons and Christianity. Not my usual light-hearted essay, but I thought those of my readers who are less familiar with the L.D.S. faith might be interested.

Most Evangelicals do not consider members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be Christians.

Even though we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Even though we worship Him along with the Father.

Even though our church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Even though we claim to hold the priesthood authority of Christ, and believe that He directs this, his restored gospel, through modern-day prophets and apostles.

In fact, we believe that He is the head of this church. It is His church.

But we're not Christians?

Oh yeah - it's that Nicene Creed issue. I'm not an expert on the Nicene Creed. I looked it up on the Internet to try to learn a little more about it and it was all Greek to me. Well, not all of it, but some of it was in Greek.

What I understand is that a couple of times during the fourth century A.D., leaders of church and government met as a council to try to come to an agreement concerning the nature of God. A compromise, maybe? Something they could all be happy with. To be fair, I think they did profess to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

But L.D.S. believe that a great apostasy occurred shortly after Christ's apostles had died off. We believe that the priesthood authority of Christ was lost from the earth due to unworthiness and corruption. We don't accept the Nicene creed as the inspired word of God.

We don't accept it, so we're blackballed from the club. The Christian club.

We don't believe that God would agree to a compromise between men concerning His nature. The Nicene creed states that God the Father, and Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit are one being. One substance, actually. Without wishing to seem disrespectful of the beliefs of others, I picture a gaseous mass of goodness that floats around the Universe, wielding unlimited power.

We believe that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate personages. Yes, personages. We believe that they look like us. Or, rather, that we look like them. Created in Their image. We believe that the Father and the Son have bodies of flesh and bone, like we have, only theirs are perfect, glorified bodies. We believe the Holy Ghost has a spirit body that is also in the form of man. They work together - they are of one purpose and because of this we can sometimes say they are one god. I think of a loving husband and wife being one with each other, but they are each their own person with their own bodies.

That is how we think of the Godhead. One in purpose, but three separate beings. Call me a nut, but this kind of Godhead (Trinity) makes sense to me.

Sometimes I wonder why people want to believe that God is an ethereal being. Is it comforting to think of Him that way? I'd rather picture God in the Heavens, in the form of a loving Father, watching over His children, knowing what it's like to be us. It just doesn't seem logical to me to think of God as a gas or whatever.

And is it reasonable to think we're the only people-looking beings in the whole wide universe?

As a Latter-Day Saint, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe that, as part of the Father's plan, Christ came to the earth, taught His gospel, suffered for the sins of all mankind, was crucified and rose again on the third day. He lives. He is the Savior of the world. It is through Him that we can return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. He is the way, the truth, and the life. 

So, am I a Christian? That depends. Is believing in Christ and putting all your faith in Him enough? Or do you have to go along with the precepts of a group of men who decided something in the fourth century?