Mormonism and Christianity
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Mormonism and Christianity have a complex theological, historical, and sociological relationship. Mormons express the doctrines of Mormonism using standard biblical terminology, and have similar views about the nature of Jesus' atonement, bodily resurrection, and Second Coming as traditional Christianity. Nevertheless, most Mormons agree with the typical non-Mormon view that the Mormon conception of God is significantly different from the Trinitarian view of orthodox Nicene Christianity, derived from the eponymous Nicene and Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creeds of 325 and 381. Though Mormons consider the Bible as scripture (insofar as it is translated correctly), they have also adopted additional scriptures. Mormons not only practice baptism and celebrate the Eucharist but also participate in religious rituals unknown to traditional Christianity. Although the various branches of Christianity have diverse views about the nature of salvation, the Mormon view is particularly idiosyncratic.
Focusing on differences, some Christians consider Mormonism "non-Christian", and Mormons, focusing on similarities, are offended at being so characterized. Mormons do not accept non-Mormon baptism nor do non-Mormon Christians usually accept Mormon baptism. Mormons regularly proselytize individuals actually or nominally within the Christian tradition, and some Christians, especially evangelicals, proselytize Mormons. A prominent scholarly view is that Mormonism is a form of Christianity, but is distinct enough from traditional Christianity so as to form a new religious tradition, much as Christianity is more than just a sect of Judaism.
The Mormonism that originated with Joseph Smith, Jr. in the 1820s shared strong similarities with some elements of nineteenth-century Protestant Christianity. Mormons believe that God, through Smith and his successors, restored these truths, and thus restored the original Christianity taught by Jesus. For example, Smith, in result of his "First Vision", primarily rejected the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity (History of the Church); and instead taught that God the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct "personages"—Jesus Christ and the Father having glorified immortalized bodies and the Holy Ghost a spirit body. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest Mormon denomination, while acknowledging its differences with mainstream Christianity, often focuses on its commonalities.
- 1 Doctrinal comparison
- 2 Christian views about Mormons
- 3 Mormon engagement with broader Christianity
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Early Joseph Smith era
Mormonism arose in the 1820s during a period of radical reform and experimentation within American Protestantism, and Mormonism is integrally connected to that religious environment. As a form of Christian primitivism, the new faith was one among several contemporary religious movements that claimed to restore Christianity to its condition at the time of the Twelve Apostles.
The Book of Mormon (1830), which reflects the earliest Mormon doctrine, was intended, in part, to settle ongoing doctrinal disputes among contemporary Christian denominations and to create a single shared theology. Joseph Smith believed in the importance of the Bible and shared the Protestant tradition that the Bible (excluding the Apocrypha) was revealed by God to humanity without error and contained the "fulness of the gospel." Nevertheless, Smith believed the Bible of his era had degenerated from its original form. Smith blamed the Catholic Church for the loss of biblical books and for introducing corruptions and obfuscations in the biblical text. Smith said that the Book of Mormon revealed "plain and precious things that had been taken away" from the Bible. (Smith also completed an unpublished revision of the Bible in 1833, which he said corrected many of these errors.) Ultimately, Smith endowed the Book of Mormon with a status equal to that of the Bible.
Early Mormon theology was "essentially trinitarian,"  although the nature of God was not at first of central importance to Smith. Early Mormon soteriology, although not following a preexisting tradition, was generally Arminian in tendency. Early Mormonism agreed with Methodists and the Disciples of Christ in rejecting Calvinistic doctrines of election in favor of Christian perfection and free will. Also, while the Book of Mormon affirmed the doctrine of original sin, it agreed with other Arminian denominations that children, though inherently depraved, are incapable of sin.
Like other Christian primitivists, Smith located the authority of Christianity in correct interpretation of the Bible—although he also maintained (as did the Shakers) that interpretation of the Bible should be guided by new and continuing revelation. Initially, the authority of Smith's faith was based on correct doctrine and his own charismatic claim of prophethood. Then during the early 1830s, Smith added to this authority apostolic succession, represented by apostles and prophets whom Smith said had ordained him.
Late Joseph Smith era
From the mid-1830s to his death in 1844, Joseph Smith introduced ideas and practices which significantly departed from traditional Protestantism. First, Smith pressed Christian perfection beyond Protestant orthodoxy. He followed non-Protestant Christians in rejecting the doctrine of justification by faith alone and moved toward universalism by introducing a hierarchy of three glorious heavens, in which even the wicked had a place. In the late 1830s, Smith introduced baptism for the dead by proxy as a means to allow unredeemed souls to accept salvation in the afterlife, and he also taught that the ordinance of marriage was require to reach the highest level of salvation. Seeking to relate Mormonism with Calvinistic ideas of assured salvation, Smith introduced a second anointing ritual, after which a participant was guaranteed virtually unconditional salvation.
The later Smith also departed from traditional Protestantism in his view of the nature of God and humanity. Eventually Smith reduced the difference between God and man to one of degree. Both God and man were coeternal and uncreated. He taught that humans could progress to an exalted state in which they became coequal with a God who was material, plural, and himself a glorified man existing within time. Smith taught that both God the Father and Jesus were distinct beings with physical bodies. (Only the Holy Spirit was a "personage of Spirit.") Because God had once been a man who had risen to a high position in heaven, humans too could progress to godhood. Such a teaching implied a vast hierarchy of gods who would rule kingdoms of inferior intelligences, and so forth in an eternal hierarchy. Unlike the god of traditional Christianity, the god envisioned by Joseph Smith did not create the eternal spirits of humanity—he only organized them and provided them with a plan to follow in his footsteps. God was God not because he was an ex nihilo creator, but because he had the greatest intelligence.
After Smith's death, his successor Brigham Young and others built upon Smith's late teachings and introduced even more profound innovations. The resulting religious tradition defined the Mormonism of the Mormon pioneer era in the 19th century. An important part of this pioneer Mormonism is the Adam–God doctrine, which became the most prominent (but not exclusive) theology of 19th-century Mormonism. Young taught that God the Father was Adam, a mortal man resurrected and exalted to godhood. Proponents of this doctrine believed that Father Adam, as the subordinate member of a three-god council, created the earth. Adam was both the common ancestor and the father of all spirits born on the earth. After ascending again to his heavenly throne, Adam returned to physically father Jesus by Mary.
Many of the distinctive elements of 19th century Mormonism, including polygamy and the Adam–God doctrine, were renounced around the turn of the 20th century by the LDS Church. However, these elements have been retained within the small branch of Mormonism known as Mormon fundamentalism.
Modern LDS Church orthodoxy
Near the turn of the 20th century there was a significant transformation of LDS theology as partially revealed in its renunciation of polygamy. In addition, prominent Mormons such as B. H. Roberts, John A. Widstoe, and James E. Talmage formulated the outlines of a new Mormon orthodoxy, synthesizing competing doctrinal elements from the era of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young that continues to be accepted by most modern Mormons.
Nature of God and humanity
In traditional Christianity, as expressed for example in the Athanasian Creed, God is conceived both as a unity and a Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are described as three persons of one uncreated divine being, equally infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. Though modern Mormons share with traditional Christianity a belief that the object of their worship comprises three distinct persons who are "co-eternal" in a sense, Mormons disagree that the three persons of their "Godhead" are the same being, that they are infinite, and that they are unchangeable. (The theology of Community of Christ Mormons is very trinitarian in nature, however.)
Mormons are constrained by the language of the Book of Mormon to regard the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as "one", but to Mormons, this "oneness" does not have the same meaning as within traditional Christianity. Modern Mormons regard God as plural. They regard God the Father as the biblical god Elohim, and they believe that the Son, a distinct being, is both Jesus and the biblical god Jehovah. The two of them, together with the Holy Spirit, are believed to form a heavenly council which Mormons call the "Godhead". They are "one" in the sense of being lovingly united in purpose or will, a view sometimes called social trinitarianism. Unlike traditional Christians, modern Mormons do not regard the Father and the Son as co-equal; rather, they generally regard the Son as subordinate to the Father.
Unlike traditional Christianity, Mormons since the 1840s have believed that God is changeable. They believe that the Father (like the Son) was twice "born"—once as a spirit, and again as a mortal man. After he lived a mortal life, Mormons believe that the Father died, was resurrected, and achieved his godhood along with at least one wife whom Mormons refer to as the Heavenly Mother. The Heavenly Father and Mother then gave birth to the spirits of humanity through a sexual union. Modern Mormons believe that Jesus, the Son, was the first born of these spirits.
Thus, while Mormons might agree with the statement that the Father and the Son are "uncreated", their understanding of "creation" differs from that of traditional Christianity. Mormons do not believe, as do traditional Christians, that God created the universe ex nihilo (from nothing). Rather, to Mormons the act of creation is to organize or reorganize pre-existing matter or intelligence. Traditional Christians consider God to be a "necessary being", meaning that he cannot not exist, while all other creations are "contingent beings". In Mormonism, by contrast, every god and human is equally a necessary being.
The Mormon sense of "eternal" differs from that of traditional Christians, who believe that God's eternal nature exists outside of space and time. Some situate the Mormon God within space and time. However, Mormon scripture states that "time is measured only unto man." They believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are "co-eternal", but they also believe that all of humanity is "co-eternal" with the Father in the sense that the underlying spark of all intelligence has always existed (in space and time) and never was created.
Mormons believe that God is scrutable and anthropomorphic. In contrast to traditional Christian notions that God is omnipotent and omniscient, modern Mormons regard God as governed by natural law.
Although the LDS Church has never officially adopted a doctrine of soteriology, most Mormons accept the doctrine of salvation formulated by B. H. Roberts, John A. Widstoe, and James E. Talmage in the early 20th century. In contrast to early Mormons, modern Mormons generally reject the idea of original sin. The Fall of Man is viewed not as a curse but as an opportunity.
Mormons believe they must not only have faith and repent but also be baptized (by immersion and by a Mormon priest) and bring forth good works. Mormons consider their weekly Eucharist (the Sacrament) as a means of renewing their baptism and being repeatedly cleansed from sin. Although the grace of Jesus plays some role in salvation, each Mormon must "work out his own salvation". Mormons believe that people not baptized during their lifetime may accept salvation in the afterlife through the Mormon practice of baptism for the dead. Although the Book of Mormon rejected the doctrine of universal reconciliation, Smith later taught that damnation was a temporary state from which the wicked would ultimately escape after they had paid for their sins, to be resurrected into one of the two lesser kingdoms of glory.
Mormonism takes an extreme view of Christian perfection, asserting that through the grace of Jesus, Mormons may become perfectly sanctified and thereby literally become gods or achieve Exaltation. To achieve Exaltation, Mormons must remain obedient to the teachings of Jesus, receive all the ordinances or Sacraments, which includes baptism, confirmation, receive the Melchizedek priesthood (for males), the Endowment, and being sealed to one's spouse. To "make sure" the election of believers, Smith introduced a second anointing ritual, whose participants, upon continued obedience, were sealed to Exaltation.
Role of the church
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Like Catholicism and Orthodoxy, Mormonism assigns considerable authoritative status to church tradition and ecclesiastical leadership.
Like Catholics, Mormons emphasize the authority of an institutional church, which in all Mormon denominations derives from the Church of Christ established by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1830. Mormons believe this church to be the "only true and living church." Below Jesus as the head of the church is a single man chosen as "Prophet" who holds the title of President of the Church. The Prophet has been compared to the Pope in Catholicism because both, within their respective faiths, are regarded as the leading authority.
Also like Catholics, Mormons believe in apostolic succession. However, Mormons believe the Catholic line of succession is invalid because of a Great Apostasy that occurred soon after era of the apostles. The line of succession was restored through Joseph Smith when biblical prophets and apostles appeared to him and ordained him through the laying on of hands with lost priesthood authority. Thus, Mormons believe that non-Mormon clergy have no heavenly authority and that sacraments performed by clergy of other faiths are void. Mormons reject the Protestant doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers", but they consider all confirmed Mormons to have the "Gift of the Holy Ghost" (also conveyed by the laying on of hands), which entitles believers to spiritual gifts but to no ecclesiastical authority.
In the late 20th century, a conservative trend within the LDS Church (called "Mormon neo-orthodoxy" on the analogy of an earlier Protestant neo-orthodoxy) emphasized the Book of Mormon over later revelations and embraced original sin, an absolute, eternal, and unchanging God, a pessimistic assessment of human nature, and a doctrine of salvation by grace rather than by works.
Despite the book's importance to early Mormonism, early Mormons rarely quoted from the Book of Mormon in their speeches and writings. Joseph Smith's later teachings and writings focused on the Bible, including his own revision of the Authorized King James Version. The book was not regularly cited in Mormon conferences until the 1980s. Within the LDS Church, a movement to re-emphasize the Jesus-based elements of Mormonism in the 1980s included a rediscovery of the Book of Mormon. In 1982, the church subtitled the book "Another Testament of Jesus Christ", to emphasize that Jesus was a central focus the book and that the book was originally intended to be a complement to the Bible.
Although Mormon neo-orthodox scholars say they have faced "resistance" from Mormon orthodoxy, the tendency of the movement is consistent with a broader trend among the LDS hierarchy to present Mormonism in terms more acceptable to mainline Christianity. Because Mormonism is not based on an authoritative systematic theology, and much of Mormon scripture was written when Mormonism was "essentially trinitarian", Mormon leaders and apologists have been able to deny that at least some of 20th century orthodox Mormonism represents official Mormon doctrine. Moreover, LDS Church publications and a few Mormon scholars have increasingly used the language of Nicene Christianity to describe the nature of God.
Christian views about Mormons
In the past, most mainstream Christian denominations rejected Mormonism outright, frequently calling it a cult and characterizing it as "non-Christian." Although mainstream Christian denominations still reject Mormons as being non-Christian, the image of Mormonism has metamorphosed during the 20th century in large part due to an evolution of Mormon theology and partly due to a deliberate effort on the part of the leadership of the LDS church. According to Jan Shipps, during the 1950s the attitude of mainstream Christians towards Mormonism changed from "vilification" to "veneration," with emphasis on positive Mormon traits such as "family orientation, clean-cut optimism, honesty and pleasant aggressiveness."
Richard Abanes attributes an "increasing lack of delineation between (Mormonism and mainstream Christianity)" to three primary causes:
- the willingness of some Mormon leaders to be less than candid about more controversial aspects of LDS history and theology,
- a trend among some Mormon scholars to make LDS belief sound more mainstream, and
- an evolution of Mormon thought toward doctrinal positions nearer those of evangelicals.
Richard Bushman asserts that, for many people, Mormonism "conjures up an assortment of contradictory images". One set of images suggests that Mormons are "happy, uncomplicated, kindly and innocent - if perhaps naive". In contrast to this set of images, Bushman describes a set of associations that focuses on "a powerful religious hierarchy controlling the church from the top". This perspective views Mormons as "secretive, clannish and perhaps dangerous", often labeling the movement as a "cult rather than a church".
Stephen Robinson has argued that Mormons are labeled heretics "for opinions and practices that are freely tolerated in other mainstream denominations."
Mormonism has a particularly rocky relationship with American Evangelical Christianity. However the view of Mormonism being non-Christian or a cult is not a uniformly held belief among Evangelicals, especially with those that have personal experience with Mormons in their community. Richard J. Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school in Pasadena, California, stated in a recent opinion piece for CNN, "[t]hose of us who have made the effort to engage Mormons in friendly and sustained give-and-take conversations have come to see them as good citizens whose life of faith often exhibits qualities that are worthy of the Christian label, even as we continue to engage in friendly arguments with them about crucial theological issues." William Saletan has been more blunt about this, stating, "[w]hy don’t we challenge anti-Mormonism? Because it’s the prejudice of our age." Joe Scarborough has drawn analogies between the Pharisees in the New Testament and prominent evangelical religious leader Robert Jeffress calling Mormonism a cult.
Non-recognition of Mormon rites
- LDS perspective
Latter Day Saint history comes from the position that other churches were the product of the apostasy, as referenced in the Bible. Latter Day Saints view other Christian churches as teaching some truth, doing good works, and acknowledge their strong faith in Christ. However Latter Day Saints also maintain that all other churches lack the divine authority to perform the ordinances of the gospel because of the apostasy. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and most other Latter Day Saint factions does not accept the baptisms of other Christian denominations as valid. However, the Community of Christ is engaged in ongoing informal discussions concerning this issue.
- Traditional perspective
The Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant branches of Christianity reject Mormon claims of additional scriptures, and of the prophetic office of Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders; they disagree with Mormon charges that they have committed apostasy. Doctrines such as the beliefs about early American civilizations, which are unique to Mormon theology and not found in the teachings of other Christian churches are also causes of disagreement. Nonetheless, many Christian denominations treat Mormons with respect, while not minimizing the differences in belief.
In 2001, in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith decided not to accept Latter-day Saint baptisms as valid. The Catholic Church generally recognizes baptisms from other Christian faiths in the name of the Trinity, provided the person baptized intends to do as the Church intends. Although, because of differences in Mormon and Catholic beliefs concerning the Trinity, the Catholic Church stated that Mormon baptism was "not the baptism that Christ instituted." However then Bishop of Salt Lake City George Hugh Niederauer stated that this ruling should not be a statement of the LDS relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Presbyterian Church USA, the largest Presbyterian body in the US, publishes a brochure describing the church as follows:
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), declares allegiance to Jesus. Latter-day Saints and Presbyterians share use of the Bible as scripture, and members of both churches use common theological terms. Nevertheless, Mormonism is a new and emerging religious tradition distinct from the historic apostolic tradition of the Christian Church, of which Presbyterians are a part. ... It is the practice of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to receive on profession of faith those coming directly from a Mormon background and to administer baptism. ... Presbyterian relationships with Latter-day Saints have changed throughout the twentieth century. By God's grace they may change further.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran body in the US, notes that Lutherans have been among those Christians who do not re-baptize other baptized Christians; however, it publishes the following statement on the recognition of Mormon baptisms:
- Although Mormons may use water–-and lots of it–-and while they may say "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," their teaching about the nature of God is substantially different from that of orthodox, creedal Christianity. Because the Mormon understanding of the Word of God is not the same as the Christian understanding, it is correct to say that Christian Baptism has not taken place.
In its 2000 General Conference, the United Methodist Church decided not to recognize Latter-day Saint baptisms, stating:
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by self-definition, does not fit within the bounds of the historic, apostolic tradition of Christian faith. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the LDS Church itself, while calling itself Christian, explicitly professes a distinction and separateness from the ecumenical community and is intentional about clarifying significant differences in doctrine. As United Methodists we agree with their assessment that the LDS Church is not a part of the historic, apostolic tradition of the Christian faith.
The Episcopal Church (USA), part of the 80-million member Anglican Communion, does not recognize Mormon baptisms, though it recognizes Christian baptisms that are Trinitarian in nature. Daniel Tuttle, the Episcopal Church's first bishop of Utah, decided not to require re-baptism of LDS converts, and that practice continues today among most Episcopal clergy. Similarly to the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church does not recognize Mormons as historic Apostolic Christians, but rather as a new and unique religious movement that is an offshoot of Christianity.
Proselytizing of Mormons by Evangelical Christians
Many other Christian churches also seek to teach or convert LDS members when the opportunity arises. Traditional Christian leaders often encourage their followers to follow the admonition of  and witness to others using gentleness and respect. Like their Latter Day Saint counterparts, those from the traditional Christian religions assert that these proselyting efforts arise out of love and genuine concern for others and not a desire to cause contention. Consequently, though the feelings may be strong, there is often a feeling of mutual appreciation and respect that accompanies missionary efforts on both sides (though this is not always the case). Some traditional Christian denominations have ministries focused on Latter-day Saints, just as they also have ministries toward Jews, Native Americans, or other demographic groups. For example, the 1998 convention of the Southern Baptist Convention held in Salt Lake City had the stated aim to "bring Christianity to the Mormons."
Polls and attitudes
Less than one-third of the general public in the United States believe that Mormons are not Christians. Similar polls have concluded that over two-thirds (2/3) of the general public view Mormons as members of the larger Christian community, including many independent evangelical ministries and prominent evangelical leaders.
Mormon engagement with broader Christianity
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By the 1960s and 1970s, as a consequence of its massive, international growth in the post-World War II era, the church was no longer primarily a Utah-based church, but a worldwide organization. The church, mirroring the world around it, felt the disunifying strains of alien cultures and diverse points of view that had brought an end to the idealistic modern age. At the same time, the postmodern world was increasingly skeptical of traditional religion and authority, and driven by mass-media and public image. These influences awoke within the church a new self-consciousness. The church could no longer rest quietly upon its fundamentals and history. It felt a need to sell its image to an increasingly jaded public, to jettison some of its Utah-based parochialism, to control and manage Mormon scholarship that might present an unfavorable image of the church, and to alter its organization to cope with its size and cultural diversity, while preserving centralized control of Latter-day Saint doctrine, practice, and culture.
Thus, the church underwent a number of important changes in organization, practices, and meeting schedule. In addition, the church became more media-savvy, and more self-conscious and protective of its public image. The church also became more involved in public discourse, using its new-found political and cultural influence and the media to affect its image, public morality, and Mormon scholarship, and to promote its missionary efforts. At the same time, the church struggled with how to deal with increasingly pluralistic voices within the church and within Mormonism. In general, this period has seen both an increase in cultural and racial diversity and extra-faith ecumenism, and a decrease in intra-faith pluralism.
Until the church's rapid growth after World War II, it had been seen in the eyes of the general public as a backward, non- or vaguely Christian polygamist cult in Utah—an image that interfered with proselyting efforts. As the church's size began to merit new visibility in the world, the church seized upon the opportunity to re-define its public image, and to establish itself in the public mind as a mainstream Christian faith. At the same time, the church became publicly involved in numerous ecumenical and welfare projects that continue to serve as the foundation of its ecumenism today.
In the 1960s the Church formed the Church Information Service with the goal of being ready to respond to media inquiries and generate positive media coverage. The organization kept a photo file to provide photos to the media for such events as Temple dedications. It also would work to get stories covering Family Home Evening, the Church welfare plan and the Church's youth activities in various publications.
As part of the church's efforts to re-position its image as that of a mainstream religion, the church began to moderate its earlier anti-Catholic rhetoric. In Elder Bruce R. McConkie's 1958 edition of Mormon Doctrine, he had stated his unofficial opinion that the Catholic Church was part of "the church of the devil" and "the great and abominable church" because it was among organizations that misled people away from following God's laws. In his 1966 edition of the same book, the specific reference to the Catholic Church was removed.
In 1973, the church recast its missionary discussions, making them more family-friendly and focused on building on common Christian ideals. The new discussions, named "A Uniform System for Teaching Families", de-emphasized the Great Apostasy, which previously held a prominent position just after the story of the First Vision. When the discussions were revised in the early 1980s, the new discussions dealt with the apostasy less conspicuously, and in later discussions, rather than in the first discussion. The discussions also became more family-friendly, including a flip chart with pictures, in part to encourage the participation of children.
In 1995, the church announced a new logo design that emphasized the words "JESUS CHRIST" in large capital letters, and de-emphasized the words "The Church of" and "of Latter-day Saints". According to Bruce L. Olsen, director of public affairs for the church, "The logo re-emphasizes the official name of the church and the central position of the Savior in its theology. It stresses our allegiance to the Lord, Jesus Christ."
In 2001, the church sent out a press release encouraging reporters to use the full name of the church at the beginning of news articles, with following references to the "Church of Jesus Christ". The release discouraged the use of the term "Mormon Church".
Downplaying of differences
Riess and Tickle assert that, starting in the late twentieth century, Mormons have focused their attention on Jesus Christ more than at any other time since the inception of their faith. Some critics of the LDS church have accused church leaders of attempting to disingenuously portray the church as "just another Christian denomination" when, in fact, there are significant differences. Riess and Tickle argue that these critics are failing to grasp that this recent emphasis on Jesus Christ is part of a genuine theological evolution that concurrently involves a renewed interest in the Book of Mormon.
Ross Anderson asserts that, "(i)n public, LDS spokesmen downplay their Church's distinctive doctrines."
Patricia Limerick suggests that future historians may conclude that, in the last four decades of the twentieth century, the General Authorities of the LDS Church "undertook to standardize Mormon thought and practice". According to Limerick, this campaign of standardization has led to a retreat from the distinctive elements of Mormonism and an accentuation of the church's similarity to conventional Christianity.
According to Claudia Bushman, "(t)he renewed emphasis on scripture study, especially the Book of Mormon, led the Church away from speculative theology. The freewheeling General Conference addresses of earlier years, elaborating unique LDS doctrines, were gradually replaced with a basic Christian message downplaying denominational differences."
Recent church presidents have tended to downplay those doctrines that served to distinguish Mormonism from mainline churches. Richard Abanes asserts that President Gordon Hinckley "on numerous occasions demonstrated his willingness to seriously downplay any issues that might be construed as controversial."
When speaking about other faiths, modern LDS leaders have adopted a policy of avoiding the use of critical and judgmental language in official Church publications, and encouraged members of the Church to be respectful of the beliefs of others as they witness in their personal lives. When speaking about other faiths, Church magazine articles are often complimentary and focus on providing factual information rather than on sensationalizing or otherwise seeking to undermine the creeds and practices of others.
Many Presidents of the Church over the years have emphasized the need for Latter-day Saints to recognize the good contributions those of other faiths make to the world.
Cooperation with other Christian denominations
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Ron Rhodes asserts that, "The Mormon church has in recent years sought to downplay its exclusivism as the “restored” church. Indeed, the Mormon church has increasingly become involved with the Interfaith movement, joining with various Christian denominations in various charities."
Traditional Christian denominations and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share work in providing welfare or humanitarian aid.
- The church has opened its broadcasting facilities (Bonneville International) to other Christian groups, and has participated in the VISN Religious Interfaith Cable Television Network.
- The church has participated in numerous joint humanitarian efforts with other churches.
- The church has agreed not to baptize Holocaust victims by proxy
Dialogue with other Christian denominations
There have been independent activities among individuals from both traditions who attempt to discuss openly about issues of faith. In November 2004, Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw, and Ravi Zacharias, a well known Christian philosophical apologist, addressed a congregation of Mormons and Evangelicals gathered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for an event sponsored by Standing Together Ministries that was well received despite the differences they acknowledged between Mormonism and the Christian Evangelical perspectives.
Proselytization of other Christian denominations
Latter-day Saints proselytize to all people, including other Christian churches, holding to the belief that God told Joseph Smith "that those professors [of religion] were all corrupt; that: 'they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.'". Because ministering to those of other Christian faiths can be a sensitive task when feelings on both sides are strong, leaders of the LDS Church from the time of its founder Joseph Smith have counseled members to be sensitive, to exercise caution, and to avoid contentions in their preaching. Despite the criticisms of other creeds, however, a tone of respect has always been encouraged by Latter Day Saint leaders. For example, Wilford Woodruff, an early president of the Church and a contemporary of Joseph Smith taught:
- When you go into a neighborhood to preach the Gospel, never attempt to tear down a man’s house, so to speak, before you build him a better one; never, in fact, attack any one’s religion, wherever you go. Be willing to let every man enjoy his own religion. It is his right to do that. If he does not accept your testimony with regard to the Gospel of Christ, that is his affair, and not yours. Do not spend your time in pulling down other sects and parties. We haven’t time to do that. It is never right to do that. (Contributor, August 1895, 636–37)
While the LDS Church has been clear about its disagreements with many of the theologies and practices of other religions (Christian and non-Christian), and seeks actively to convert all people to its own teachings, it has also always adopted a policy of toleration for others and defended the rights of all people to worship God freely. Article 11 of the Articles of Faith written by Joseph Smith states, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.". Joseph Smith spoke often of the need for Latter-day Saints to be civil and courteous in their treatment of others, particularly those who were not of their faith, and to be willing to defend the right of anyone to religious freedom. He said:
- If we would secure and cultivate the love of others, we must love others, even our enemies as well as friends... I possess the principle of love. All I can offer the world is a good heart and a good hand. The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a "Mormon", I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination. . . . It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul. History of the Church, 5:498
Because Mormon missionaries proselytize all, including other Christians, some Christian organizations have published tracts, brochures and books designed to counter these missionary efforts.
Conciliar Press, a department of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, has published a brochure designed to inform Orthodox Christians of the proselytizing efforts of what it describes as "cultists" (Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses).
In 2006 the Catholic bishops in Slovakia urged all Catholics in the country not to sign a petition allowing the LDS Church to be legally recognized in that country.
- Criticism of Mormonism
- Mormon apologetics
- Mormonism and Islam
- Moroni (Book of Mormon prophet)
- Opposition to cults and new religious movements
- Shipps (1985, pp. 148–49) (arguing that "Mormonism differs from traditional Christianity in much the same fashion that traditional Christianity... came to differ from Judaism.").
- Stark & Neilson (2005, p. 14).
- Shipps (2000, p. 338).
- Smith, Joseph Fielding (1956). Doctrines of Salvation. Bookcraft. p. 1:38.
- Brooke (1994, p. xv) ("Mormonism springs from the sectarian tradition of the Radical Reformation, in fact from its most extreme fringe.").
- Brooke (1994, p. 200) (describing Smith's evolving theology as "a radical departure from traditional Protestant Christianity.").
- Gordon (2002, p. 11); Shipps (1985, p. 7).
- Paul C. Gutjahr (March 25, 2012). The Book of Mormon: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books). Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-14480-1.
- Hill (1969, pp. 1–4) (describing the background of Christian primitivism in New England).
- Hullinger (1992, p. 4) ("The Book of Mormon settles doctrinal differences among those who accept the Christ it presents. Mormon's purpose is to make clear the true doctrine and to dissolve doctrinal disputes by explaining the gospel of Christ"); Ford (2005, pp. 75–76) ("[T]he Book of Mormon decides controversies in a number of areas, including those argued among early nineteenth century American theologians.").
- DePillis (1966, p. 88) (noting that the Book of Mormon expresses contempt for sectarianism, and arguing that establishing the one true fold and one true faith are the "only real theological themes of the book"); Hullinger (1992, p. 32) (the Book of Mormon "would seek to heal the wounds of sectarianism and defend God against deism, rationalism, and sectarianism.").
- Hullinger (1992, pp. 153–54); Hill (1969, p. 5).
- Hullinger (1992, p. 154); Hill (1969, p. 5).
- Hullinger (1992, p. 154).
- Hill (1969, p. 5); Hullinger (1992, pp. 154–55).
- Bushman (2005, p. 142) (noting that though Smith declared his revision of the Bible complete in 1833, though the church lacked funds to publish it during his lifetime).
- The LDS Church has canonized only a small part of this translation. However, see Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 296) (noting that the most significant parts of Smith's revision of the Bible are found as footnotes and study materials in the LDS Church edition of the Authorized King James Version).
- Hullinger (1992, pp. 154–55) ("To defend the Bible's status as revelation, the Book of Mormon demanded equal status.")
- Alexander (1980, pp. 24–25) (describing the pre-1835 theology as "essentially trinitarian"); Widmer (2000, pp. 30, 59) (calling Book of Mormon theology "layman's Trinitarianism"); Kirkland (1986, p. 77) ("The Book of Mormon, revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants prior to 1835, and Smith's 1832 account of his First Vision all reflect 'trinitarian' perceptions."); Kirkland (1984, p. 37) ("While the Book of Mormon theology does not reflect a truly orthodox trinitarian view as codified in the Athanasian creed, it does reflect the common Christian layman's perception that is some manner, the Father and the Son were both representations of one God."); Lindgren (1986, pp. 72–73) (noting that Book of Mormon theology was similar to trinitarianism, but ultimately was "modalistic Monarchianism").
- Widmer (2000, pp. 30, 31) ("What is apparent is that early Mormons were reacting against a heavily intellectualized and theologized Trinitarian concept of God.").
- Alexander (1980, p. 26) (noting that early Mormon doctrine "saw man as a creature of God, but capable of sanctification"); Matzko (2007, p. 73) (noting similarities with Arminianism, and disagreeing that the Book of Mormon incorporates Calvinist doctrine); Ford (2005, p. 77) (arguing that while the Book of Mormon agrees with some tenets of Arminianism, it "integrates doctrines from a variety of preexisting theological perspectives and some apparently unique teachings").
- Alexander (1980, pp. 26–27); Matzko (2007, p. 73) (noting, in addition, that the "Book of Mormon seems to contradict all five points of Calvinism"); Ford (2005, p. 88) ("[I]n the debate over human freedom, the Book of Mormon tends to resolve the issues similarly but not identically to the Methodist brand of Arminianism.").
- Ford (2005, p. 83) (Book of Mormon "affirms original sin (2 Ne. 2), [and] human depravity (Mosiah 16:3)..."); Alexander (1980, p. 26); Ostler (1991, p. 61) ("[A]lthough the Book of Mormon promulgates a notion of 'original sin', it is a 'hypothetical original sin' which does not actually afflict persons unless they reject the atonement."); Lindgren (1986, p. 72) (describing the Book of Mormon as pessimistic about fundamental human nature, and the inability to overcome depravity through willfulness alone).
- Ford (2005, pp. 91–92); Alexander (1980, p. 26) (original sin "applied to individual men only from the age of accountability and ability to repent, not from birth. Very young children were free from this sin.").
- Hullinger (1992, p. 32) (comparing the earliest Mormonism with the Disciples of Christ's view of Biblical authority).
- Hullinger (1992, p. 32) ("Like Shakers, [Smith] would restore the church and be led to the correct interpretation by new and constant revelation.").
- Hullinger (1992, p. 32) ("Like other Protestants, he would see correct doctrine as a mark of the true church.").
- Quinn (1994, p. 7) (describing Smith's earliest authority as charismatic authority); DePillis (1966, pp. 77–78) (noting that Smith based his authority, in part, on signs of divine approbation and special revelations, and that "[a]t first the Prophet had little to offer [converts] beyond baptism and his own impressive personality.").
- Hullinger (1992, p. 32) ("Like other Protestants, he would see correct doctrine as a mark of the true church. But Smith added something else: a new scripture and a dual priesthood based not on apostolic succession, as in the case of the Roman Catholic claim to authority, but on prophetic succession."); DePillis (1966, pp. 77, 81) (Smith "claimed prophetic succession through a dual priesthood that allegedly existed among the Hebrews."); Quinn (1994, p. 7) (In 1834, Smith first began claiming that his authority arose within a line of succession through angelic visitors.).
- Alexander (1980, p. 27).
- DePillis (1966, p. 85) ("Mormonism as it evolved between Kirtland, Ohio and Nauvoo, Illinois, also rejected the pre-eminence of faith over works.").
- Brodie (1971, p. 118) ("[E]ven the 'liars, sorcerers, adulterers, and whoremongers' were guaranteed telestial glory, and only a handful of unregenerates called the Sons of Perdition were to be eternally damned.").
- Bushman (2005, pp. 421–22); Brodie (1971, p. 282).
- Brooke (1994, p. 255); Brodie (1971, p. 300); Bushman (2005, p. 443) (noting that a modern Mormon interpretation of Smith's 1843 polygamy revelation ties both polygamy and monogamy to degrees of exaltation).
- Buerger (1983, pp. 13–14, 36–37); Bushman (2005, pp. 497–98) (Second anointing was Smith's "attempt to deal with the theological problem of assurance" over which Calvinist theologians had argued for centuries.); Brooke (1994, pp. 256–60) (arguing that unlike Calvinism, the power to grant unconditional salvation resided in the priest, rather than God alone, and therefore incorporated elements of Smith's magical tradition); Ostler (1991, pp. 77–78) (noting differences with the Calvinistic notion of persevering grace); Prince (1995, pp. 190–91) (Unlike other Mormon rituals necessary for salvation, "the second anointing guaranteed one's exaltation, and thus may be viewed as the crowning ordinance of Smith's ministry.").
- Widmer (2000, pp. 119, 145).DePillis (1966, p. 84) ("To the older New England the ways and 'providences' of God were inscrutable. To a rebellious son of New England, living in an age of secret societies with strange signs and special ceremonies, God was quite scrutable, but only to those who were initiated.")DePillis (1966, p. 84);Widmer (2000, p. 119); Alexander (1980, p. 27) (describing Smith's doctrine as "material anthropomorphism"); Bloom (1992, p. 101) ("Smith's God, after all, began as a man, and struggled heroically in and with time and space, rather after the pattern of colonial and revolutionary Americans.")Bushman (2005, p. 421) ("Piece by piece, Joseph redefined the nature of God, giving Him a form and a body and locating Him in time and space."); Bloom (1992, p. 101) ("Joseph Smith's God...is finite.... Exalted now into the heavens, God necessarily is still subject to the contingencies of time and space.").
- Roberts (1909, p. 325)[citation not found].
- DePillis (1966, p. 85); Widmer (2000, pp. 123–24) (discussing instances where Smith taught that God was a resurrected man).
- Widmer (2000, p. 119); Bushman (2005, pp. 535, 455–56, 535–37)
- Bushman (2005, pp. 420–21); Widmer (2000, p. 119).
- Bushman (2005, pp. 455–56).
- Widmer (2000, p. 131).
- Bergera (1980, p. 15).
- Widmer (2000, pp. 131–33) (describing Michael as a "lesser God in the Council of Gods".); Kirkland (1984, p. 38) (noting that in Joseph Smith's endowment ceremony, the gods involved in the creation were "Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael," but unlike in modern Mormon theology, this "Jehovah" was not identified as Jesus).
- Bergera (1980, p. 41) (describing the Adam–God doctrine as "that Adam was at once the spiritual as well as the physical father of all persons born on this world, including Jesus Christ"); Widmer (2000, p. 131) (Adam "was the father of the spirits in Heaven, as well as the father of their mortal bodies.").Widmer (2000, pp. 132–33); Kirkland (1984, p. 39) (Young apparently believed that while Adam was mortal on the earth, his father Elohim, the "Grandfather in Heaven," temporarily took over Adam's role as the god of this planet).
- Kirkland (1984, p. 39) ("After his death Adam returned to his exalted station as God the Father, and as such presided over Israel designated by the divine names Elohim or Jehovah.").
- Widmer (2000, p. 131); Bergera (1980, p. 41) (describing the Adam–God doctrine as "that Adam was at once the spiritual as well as the physical father of all persons born on this world, including Jesus Christ"); Kirkland (1984, p. 39) (Adam "later begot Jesus, his firstborn spirit son, in the flesh").
- Widmer (2000, p. 139); Alexander (1980, p. 29) (noting that in 1912, the LDS First Presidency explicitly instructed missionaries to teach that Mormons worship God the Father, and not Adam, and discussing the official First Presidency statement of 1916).
- Widmer (2000, pp. 144, 154) (the modern Mormon concept of God originated in the early 20th century);Alexander (1980, p. 28).
- Alexander (1980, pp. 24, 30) ("[M]uch of current doctrine seems to have been systematized" in the period from 1893 through 1925; the semi-official orthodoxy remained unchallenged until the advent of neo-orthodoxy).
- Davies (2003, pp. 68–69):"This image of God reinforces Dan Vogel's argument that 'Mormonism was never trinitarian but consistently preferred heterodox definitions of God.'" DePillis (1966, p. 84); Ostling & Ostling (2007, pp. 310–12) (developing from monotheism in the late 1820s and 30s, LDS Church theology was clearly tritheistic by 1916).
- Kirkland (1984, pp. 36, 41) (Jesus is regarded as Jehovah, the Old Testament god).
- Mormons believe in what is sometimes called "social trinitarianism," meaning the three beings of the Godhead are blended in heart and mind like extremely close friends, but are not one being." Bushman (2008, p. 6)
- Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 331) (In contrast to Christian orthodoxy, "[t]he Mormon Jesus is subordinate to the Father.").
- Widmer (2000, pp. 119) (Mormons believe that God was once a man.).
- DePillis (1966, p. 85);Widmer (2000, pp. 123–24) (discussing instances where Smith taught that God was a resurrected man);Alexander (1980, p. 27); Bloom (1992, p. 101) ("Smith's God, after all, began as a man, and struggled heroically in and with time and space, rather after the pattern of colonial and revolutionary Americans."); Bushman (2005, pp. 535, 455–56, 535–37)
- Alexander (1980, p. 31) (Roberts and Widtsoe taught that "We must also have a mother who possesses the attributes of Godhood.").
- Widmer (2000, p. 137) (20th century Mormon theologians retained Young's idea that spirit children were born in the same way that material children are born); Alexander (1980, p. 31) (noting the Heavenly Mother doctrine, Roberts and Widtsoe taught that "[s]exual relations will continue into eternity both for joy and for procreation.").
- Ostling & Ostling (2007, pp. 305, 331) (Mormon doctrine is that humans are born of a heavenly Father and Mother; Jesus is described as "literally our elder brother").
- Bushman (2008, p. 71)
- McMurrin (1965, p. 4).
- Bushman (2005, p. 421) ("Piece by piece, Joseph redefined the nature of God, giving Him a form and a body and locating Him in time and space."); Widmer (2000, pp. 119, 145); Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 305) ("The Mormon God exists within time; in traditional Christian theology, God is outside time.").
- The Will of the Father in All Things, Jeffrey R. Holland (BYU president), 17 January 1989; (mis-)quoting Alma 40:8. Book of Mormon
- Ostling & Ostling (2007, pp. 305, 331) (Mormon doctrine is that humans are coeternal with God, are of the same species.
- DePillis (1966, p. 84) ("To the older New England the ways and 'providences' of God were inscrutable. To a rebellious son of New England, living in an age of secret societies with strange signs and special ceremonies, God was quite scrutable, but only to those who were initiated.")
- Alexander (1980, p. 27) (describing Smith's doctrine as "material anthropomorphism"); DePillis (1966, p. 84); Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 303) ("Mormon tradition, from Joseph Smith on, has tended to interpret literally...anthropomorphic descriptions of God.").
- Alexander (1980, p. 29).
- Alexander (1980, pp. 31–32) (discussing reasons why the LDS Church never issued an official soteriological statement based on the writings of Roberts, Widtsoe, and Talmage).
- Alexander (1980, p. 30) (The soteriological orthodoxy created by Roberts, Widtsoe, and Talmage remained unchallenged until the advent of neo-orthodoxy).
- White (1987, pp. 70–71); Alexander (1980, pp. 30, 32) (The rejection of original sin is a reversal of ideas implicit in the Book of Mormon.); Ostling & Ostling (2007, pp. 330–31) ("All Mormon factions agree that LDS theology rejects the orthodox Christian doctrine of original sin.").
- Alexander (1980, p. 31);White (1970, p. 16) (arguing that this Mormon orthodoxy "implies that the Fall is no fall".); White (1987, pp. 71–72); Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 332) ("Mormons believe that Adam's fall was a good thing, not the tragic event of traditional Christian understanding.").
- Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 336).
- White (1987, pp. 80–81,83) (quoting language of Philippians 2:12); McMurrin (1965, pp. 66–67) (emphasis on works);Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 335) ("On the faith-works scale, Mormons clearly tilt toward the works side.").
- Alexander (1980, p. 27) (Joseph Smith extended the idea of perfection extended beyond the Protestant orthodoxy).
- Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 312) (noting that unlike Mormonism, the Methodist view of sanctification "was thoroughly trinitarian and retained a distinction between the creature and the creator").
- Bushman (2005, pp. 497–98) (those who were married eternally were then "sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise" through the second anointing); Brooke (1994, pp. 256–57); Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 199) (citing research of David John Buerger, who assumes that the LDS Church does not consider the second anointing ritual to be a prerequisite for achieving godhood in the afterlife).
- Paul Toscano, Strangers in Paradox: Explorations in Mormon Theology (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990), Chapter 14.
- White (1987, p. xvi); McMurrin (1965, p. 111) (noting that Mormonism has become increasingly conservative, denying "the traditional liberalism of Mormon theology by favoring a negative description of human nature and the human predicament."); Alexander (1980, p. 32) (the trend followed Protestant neo-orthodoxy but lacked "the vigor and certitude of its Protestant counterpart" because Mormons were limited by authoritative statements of Mormon progressives); White (1987, pp. 142, 144) (Mormon neo-orthodox scholars are "less extreme" than their Protestant counterparts).
- White (1987, pp. 139–42).
- White (1987, pp. xvi, 96–97); White (1970, pp. 12–17).
- Riess & Tickle (2005, p. xiii).
- Riess & Tickle (2005, p. xiii-xiv).
- Riess & Tickle (2005, p. xiv).
- White (1987, p. 140).
- White (1987, pp. 174–75); Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 330).
- Ostling & Ostling (2007, p. 302).
- Ostling & Ostling (2007, pp. 301, 429–30)
- White (1987, pp. 174–75); Ostling & Ostling (2007, pp. 308, 330) (noting writings by BYU scholars who describe God as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent).
- Abanes (2007, p. 253); Bushman (2008, p. 2).
- Van Biema, David (June 24, 2001), "Kingdom Come", TIME Magazine.
- Abanes (2007, p. 10)
- Bushman (2008, pp. 1–2)
- Eliason (2001, p. 102).
- According to John Pottenger, although both Mormon Christianity and evangelical Christianity claim to be preaching true Christianity, they are nonetheless "diametrically opposed in many of their beliefs, theologies and practices." Pottenger (2007, p. 143). However, according to (Bloom 1992), Mormonism and American Evangelicalism (and American religion in general) have more in common at a deep level than either of them do with traditional European Christianity.
- Walker, Joseph (10 October 2011), "Local clergy weigh in on LDS 'cult' claims, Christianity", Deseret News
- Mouw, Richard J. (9 October 2011), My Take: This evangelical says Mormonism isn’t a cult, CNN
- Saletan, William (10 October 2011), Latter-Day Sins, Slate.com
- Scarborough, Joe (10 October 2011), "Jeffress throws Jesus under the bus", Politico
- See references given in the introductory paragraph
- "Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true 'Mormons'." Joseph Fielding Smith (1993), Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316
- Winning them softly Evangelicals try to reach Mormons with respect - and hard science. John W. Kennedy, posted 2/01/2004 (February 2004, Vol. 48, No. 2) Christianity Today (Accessed:October 7, 2006)
- Apologetics website
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- "The Mormons. Frequently Asked Questions: Are Mormons Christians". PBS. Retrieved 18 June 2010.; 2007 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center. See, for example, http://www.religionnewsblog.com/19478/religion-poll-2
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- “We recognize the good in all churches. We recognize the value of religion generally. We say to everyone: live the teachings which you have received from your church. We invite you to come and learn from us, to see if we can add to those teachings and enhance your life and your understanding of things sacred and divine. Now we work with people of other faiths on common causes, many of them across the world. We recognize theological differences. We believe that we can disagree theologically without being disagreeable, and we hope to do so. We have been rather careful about surrendering in any way our doctrinal standards, anything of that kind as part of an ecumenical effort, but we certainly have worked with people, and do work with people, and want to work with other groups in tackling common social problems, things of that kind which are so much in need of attention these days throughout the world” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, interview with Lawrence Spicer, London News Service, 28 Aug. 1995)
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- Vogel, Dan (1993), "Anti-Universal Rhetoric in the Book of Mormon", in Metcalfe, Brent Lee, New Approaches to the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, pp. 21–52.
- White, O. Kendall, Jr. (1970), "The Transformation of Mormon Theology", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 5 (2): 9–24.
- White, O. Kendall, Jr. (1987), Mormon Neo-Orthodoxy: A Crisis Theology, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, ISBN 0-941214-52-4.
- Widmer, Kurt (2000), Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830–1915, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.
- Beckwith, Francis J., Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen, jt. eds. (2002). The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement, Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-23194-9
- Bloomberg, Craig (1997), How Wide the Divide?: A Mormon & an Evangelical in Conversation, IVP Academic, ISBN 0-8308-1991-6
- Gellinek, Christian and Hans-Wilhelm Kelling (2001). Avenues to Christianity: Mormonism in Comparative Church History, in series, Studies of the Latter-Day Saint Religion, and also in Academic Studies in Religion and the Social Order. Global Publications, Binghamton University. ISBN 1-58684-128-9
- Hopkins, Richard R. (1994). Biblical Mormonism: Responding to Evangelical Criticism of L.D.S. Theology, Harvest Publishers. ISBN 0-88290-482-5
- Shuster, Eric (2009), Catholic roots, Mormon Harvest, Cedar Fort, Inc., ISBN 1-59955-257-4
- Robinson, Stephen (1998), Are Mormons Christians?, Bookcraft, ISBN 1-57008-409-2
- Mormon.org official informational website of the LDS Church.
- "Is Mormonism Christian?" A debate between Bruce D. Porter and Gerald R. McDermott, First Things, October 2008
- Utah Lighthouse Ministry - Protestant Christian website that defends their view of the Bible.
- "We Have Sinned Against You" - A leading evangelical speaks at the Mormon Tabernacle and says evangelicals have spread lies about LDS beliefs.
- "The Mormons" - Frontline + American Experience four-hour PBS documentary aired April 30 – May 1, 2007
- "Mormons". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.