Friday, July 22, 2011

A Plea to Evangelicals: Please define who is "Christian"

Can someone, anyone, please tell me how Evangelicals define "Christian"? I always considered myself Christian - someone who believes that Christ is their Savior and Redeemer - but I keep coming across people (mainly Evangelicals) who refuse to let me be called by that name. I have no interest in being confused with Evangelicals (yes, I am Mormon), I just want to get on the same page so that we can stop arguing about such a pitiful thing and move onto less important things like, being Christ-like!

After reading many posts trailing the stories on Mitt Romney and his presidential bid, I have seen Evangelicals try to explain why they refuse Mormons the right to be called Christian, but none have ever really defined "Christian". 2012Frank is a good example of an Evangelical attempt to explain why I am not Christian after reading this Washington Post story:
In the same article, leroyad tries to define "Christian"by: 
Are Mormons Christians? They certainly think so. At the same time, it's indisputable that Mormons believe things about Jesus that no other Christian church does -- starting with the belief that he visited ancient America after his resurrection.[True] The church's official Web site quotes one LDS leader as saying, " We do believe things about Jesus that other Christians do not believe, but that is because we know, through revelation, things about Jesus that others do not know." [True]
So if I call myself a Jew, but believe things that no other Jews do -- like, for example, that the Messiah has come, and his name was Jesus, and he was the divine son of God -- am I Jewish? [Nice try 2012Frank, but your analysis doesn't hold water. Problem is: yes, there are different "branches" of Judeaism. Obviously they are each different because they believe unique things. And, yes, the same thing exists in Christianity - different groups that have broken off from the main "branch" (Catholicism) and formed their own "branch" of Christianity because they believe a little bit differently than the main group. But the one or two defining thing are still the same. It sounds like, 2012Frank, that you are trying to apply the term describing a term generalizing a religion to your particular and distinct sect within that religion.]

The key litmus test for whether a religion is Christian concerns whether or not it includes "grace" in the sense that both Roman Catholics and Protestants use it. Mormons use that term but employ it to mean something else. By my experience, few LDS members understand their own faith's theology. [Not sure where the definition of "grace" came in to defining one as "Christian" or not (no council held to define it that way, that I know of), but I think you might be hinting that we differ in how we believe that salvation through Jesus Christ will be granted]
  Webster's Dictionary defines "Christian" as simply: 
one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ gives a much more complex definition, but very clear, nonetheless:

Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. "Christian" derives from the Greek word Christ, a translation of the Hebrew term Messiah.
Central to the Christian faith is love or Agape. Christians also believe Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, the Son of God, and the savior of mankind from their sins. Most Christians believe in the doctrine of the Trinity ("tri-unity"), a description of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which retains the monotheistic belief of Christianity's Abrahamic heritage through an ineffable confluence. This includes the vast majority of the churches in Christianity. A minority of Christian churches are Nontrinitarians.
The term "Christian" is also used adjectivally to describe anything associated with Christianity, or in a proverbial sense "all that is noble, and good, and Christ-like." It is also used as a label to identify people who associate with the cultural aspects of Christianity, irrespective of personal religious beliefs or practices.
Every other dictionary I look in, the definitions are more or less the same, or somewhere in between the two mentioned above. So, please show me (or find a dictionary that defines it differently) how I, as a Mormon, do not fall into the definition of "Christian". Perhaps I do not understand my own theology, as leroyad suggests. What I tend to find, as leroyad eludes to, is that every other person of another "Christian" faith somehow knows more about my religion and my faith than I or any other Mormon does. So, here is a list of my core beliefs, please correct me if my  theology is out of line with the "true" Mormon beliefs:
  1. I believe in God the Father, in his Son - Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. Yes, we are one of the Nontrinitarians who believe that they are three seperate, and distinct beings. There is ample evidence from the New and Old Testaments to understandibly justify this belief, but obviously I am a minority for having this belief. However, Mormons are not the only "Christians" to hold this belief. I believe the Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer, that he died on the cross for you and me.
  2. I believe in a living Prophet, who is called of God to be his mouthpiece and to direct His church on earth. The concept of a living prophet is different than most Christian churches. Most Christian churches claim that the need for prophets ended when Jesus Christ died. How silly does that sound? There were prophets from the beginning of time, down to Christ, and then Peter headed the church afterwards. Then... nothing! Interestingly, we have scriptures (written by prophets and historians) from the beginning of time down to Christ, and then the Apostles, and then... nothing! If God is really unchangeable, fair, and loves us, would he not provide a prophet to tell us of the things we should do?
  3. I beleive in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. If it teaches of Christ and testifies of him, and tells us to be like him, what is the problem? Could there possibly have been other people who looked forward to the coming of the Savior other that those in Jerusalem? Wouldn't God love them as he did the Jews? Why is it so strange that he would love more people than just those in Jerusalem, enough to teach them and them to write down what was told them just like the Prophets in Jerusalem; and then that record be brought to light? It is no different that today, how there are so many culures and countries, all who believe in Christ, and willing testify of it in writing to the world. If i believe in a book that testifies of Jesus Christ, does that disqualify me from being "Christian"?
Yes, there are many other beliefs within the Mormon church that seem strange and different. But everything else is based on the aforementioned beliefs. Some of the "beliefs" thrown around all over the internet tend to be mostly half-truths, designed to get the "shock-effect" out of tits readers. Some are not even doctrinal, at all. Instead, they are more of a theoretical hypothesis (ie. mormons getting their own world, etc.). But, I will concede to the notion that we are brainwashed. We are totally brainwashed to believe that if we try to emulate our lives like that of Jesus Christ and repent of our sins, then through the grace of God, we can be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven.

If that disqualifies me from being "Christian", then let me know, because I wouldn't want to be confused with someone who doesn't believe that.

1 comment:

  1. I never thought of it this way. It is true that there are several sects of Christianity and they all have varying differences. But I do not consider them any less Christian than the next.