As evidenced by its name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) identifies itself as devoutly Christian. Though the label “Christian” is often associated with particular creedal claims which the Church does not adopt, Mormons use it to express their belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ.
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The doctrines and scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints center on the role that Jesus Christ plays as Redeemer, Savior and Son of God. As Joseph Smith, the Church’s founder and first president, explained, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”[i] Mormons believe that in addition to the Bible, the Book of Mormon serves as a testament or witness of Jesus Christ and His teachings. Mormons pray in the name of Christ, partake of the sacrament (or communion of bread and water) in the name of Christ, pray for forgiveness and receive grace through Christ, worship in the name of Christ and strive to follow His example.
Confusion sometimes arises over whether Mormons are Christians due to doctrinal differences from those beliefs that have typically defined many other Christian churches. For example, Mormons believe that God the Father loves, weeps and rejoices with a sympathetic heart (Moses 7:28-33). They believe that the Trinity (God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Ghost) are three distinct personages (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22). Mormons also believe that Christ established a church during His mortal ministry, but over time its line of priestly authority, as well as certain important teachings, were lost. For this reason, they believe God called a prophet, Joseph Smith, to reestablish Christ’s church of ancient times — hence the name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or, followers in these present times). This included reinstating living “apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). Their belief in an open canon and additional scripture — the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price — also set them apart from other Christians.
Mormons affirm, however, that these beliefs do not disqualify them as Christians, but rather ground their faith in Jesus Christ and strengthen their commitment to following His example and His teachings. While acknowledging genuine differences in various doctrines with other traditional Christian churches, they identify themselves as Christians in light of their devotion to worshiping and following the Savior.
[i] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 121.