Mormons Vs Main Stream Religions

Is the Mormon religion considered by main stream Christians to be a Christian religion or is it considered to be a cult.

At one time I considered Mormons as Christians but I’ve heard enough to the contrary to be in doubt.

The truth I that I don’t know enough about either religion to hold an informed opinion.

Please fight my ignorance.

Thank you.

There are already tons of threads on this topic, but it can be summarized as follows:

Mormons are definitely out of the Christian mainstream, but generally are not regarded as a cult except by some Evangelical sects. Mormons self-identify as Christians but they reject a fair number of Catholic and Protestant beliefs. As far as I know, no other mainstream Christian church will accept a Mormon baptism as valid in their church. However, I’d wager a fair number of Protestant churches will take Mormons at their word that they’re Christians in their own manner.

This stems from Mormons not being a traditional Protestant church and not sharing that history, doctrine or traditions.

In my experience growing up Catholic, the LDS church was never portrayed as anything other than another christian denomination if it was talked about at all. Catholicism on the whole is not very concerned by it and the 3rd of a semester I spent studying it left me far more informed about the subject than any of my religious instructors ever were.

Mormonism’s theology is unusual in that it has traditionally held that human beings are literally spiritually descended from their creator (or “heavenly father”) and can attain a kind of godhood after the resurrection, even creating their own planets in a sort of divine life cycle. This *really *weirds out a lot of Protestants.

Partly because other major Christian sects see “God” not as “our” god but as THE PRIME MOVER preceding everything, and Mormonism implies that’s not the case. Also it comes off as hubristic in general to say, “I’m going to be a god!”

The Mormon view of the Godhead disqualifies it from membership in the National Council of Churches, which is as mainstream as you can get. The position of the Catholic Church itself & of Eastern Orthodoxy is about the same. The LDS does not hold to the traditional view of the Trinity & Jesus’ Eternal Divine Sonship, as is held by Catholic, Orthodox & Protestant churches.

I don’t think “Christian” and “Cult” are the only two choices. The argument that Mormon doctrine is radical enough that it doesn’t make sense to label it under the same category as Catholic/Protestant doctrines is completely independent of the argument that the organization is a cult.

In fact, I don’t think being Christian precludes something from being a cult: my understanding is that Westboro Baptist could be pretty meaningfully described as a cult, but while it may be unchristian, it’s still Christian.

And there are certainly plenty of churches that are arguably non-Christian and not cults: UU is the first that springs to mind.

I am a former member of the LDS church. It’s as much a cult as Scientology is.

Mormons are a cult, Christians are a long lasting cult.

Practicing Mormon here AND member of a mainstream Christian church (Lutheran, Missouri Synod).

Mormons are not considered Christian by a lot of churches because they do not accept the Creeds (Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed) that pretty much all other mainstream Christian churches espouse in one form or another.

It is also true that Mormons do not believe quite the same thing as other Christian churches (the Trinity has been mentioned as an example). And there are a lot of… theological additions that have also been mentioned in this thread already.

However, the core beliefs as understood by a random member of either religion are much the same. (Most of my Christian friends, for example, have pretty much the same view of the Trinity as my Mormon friends do.) Mormons believe that we’re saved through Jesus Christ, that he died for our sins, that there are three members of the Godhead, etc.

My Mormon baptism was ruled valid by the Lutheran pastor of the church I attend with my husband because it was done in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. I did not have to get re-baptized, and he said I could take Communion.

It’s never a good idea to use the word “cult” when you’re asking about the theological basis of a religious group. Some people use the term to talk about theology, but as least as often people use the term to describe how the group restricts its members in social ways so as to avoid contact with other groups’ religious beliefs. There’s no simple matching between the theology and the social restrictions. I don’t think that the OP really wants to discuss the social restrictions of the Mormon church though. I think that what the OP is asking about is the theological beliefs of the church.

I consider there to be four significant (present-day American, at least) religious groups which think of themselves as Christian, although most Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox churches think of them as not being really Christian - Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and Unitarians. Each of them is clearly at least an offshoot of Christianity, but each of them has significant differences in theology with other Christian groups, differences which are well beyond the differences between the Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches. I would say, in fact, that Mormon, Jehovah Witness, Christian Scientist, and Unitarian beliefs are sufficiently different from other Christian beliefs that I would classify them as Abrahamic religions but not Christian ones. In other words, I would say that they are no closer to Christianity than Islam or Judaism is, but they are closer to it than Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism, etc. are.

However, you are never going to get a truly objective answer to the question in the OP. There is simply no way to objectively define what the core beliefs of any religious group is. There is simply no way to objectively define how far apart the beliefs of two groups are. Even if there was some objective way to do either of these things, that’s not what most people think about anyway. When the average Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox person who attends church but doesn’t have significant training in theology is asked whether the people who attend the Mormon church in his town are Christians, he doesn’t usually try to go through a list of theological beliefs. Rather, he uses more superficial comparisons. He will simply note whether the Mormons seem to talk and act like members of other Christian groups.

Mormons wouldn’t be considered part of the current mainstream Christianity, which is basically: traditional Protestant churches, the RCC, and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

In ages past Mormonism would basically be considered a “heresy.”

The Bogomils, Cathars, Hussites and etc were all undeniably Christian, but they were not mainstream. In that time period not being mainstream and following the hierarchical Church system made you a heretic and subject to being basically the target of extreme eradication efforts.

However, the Bogomils, Cathars, and Hussites were all Christian. They believed in teachings originally attributed to Christ and most of the core ethos and mythology was the same. They just differed on specific interpretations.

The Mormons are basically the same, they are followers of the teachings of Christ which to me is enough to make any group “Christian.” However they aren’t “mainstream.”

The Bogomils and Cathars wouldn’t be considered Christians by the standards of present-day Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches. They had dualistic and gnostic beliefs that aren’t usually considered Christian:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogomilism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathars

The Hussites would be considered Christian by the standards of present-day Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches. They disagree with the hierachical set-up of the Catholic Church, but they didn’t have any significant theological differences:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussite

They may have been equally oppressed and outlawed by the medieval Catholic church, but their differences with the standards of modern Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches weren’t all at the same level.

But once again, you’re never going to get an objective answer to this question. You’re never going to get an agreement on what the core beliefs of mainstream Christians are. You’re never even going to get an agreement on what mainstream Christianity is.

During my Catholic education, we sat through a presentation that described Mormonism as a cult.

As a recovering Southern Baptist I was taught that that they Mormon church was a cult but it had been years since I attended a church of any kind. I probably could have done a better job of searching threads and I will try to do that now. I was really wondering how many churches will disavow Romney even though I didn’t specify that. Thanks for your inputs and I will try to avoid black and white questions/answers in future.

Is the bolded part above really part of official LDS theology? I recall Gordon Hinkley being asked about it in an interview with Time or Newsweek about 15 years ago, and he gave a non-confirmation/non-denial, something like, “I’m not sure we have ever taught that”.

I’m not interested in the opinions of individual LDS’s. I’m sure there are Roman Catholics who think Elvis is alive, but it’s not endorsed by the pope.

It is doctrine (although not quite as stark as the bolded part you quoted). Former church leader Gordon Hinckley’s press interviews in the 90s (60 Minutes, Larry King, Time) were notorious for his rather embarrassing tendency to massage the truth in order to make Mormonism seem more normal. His mealy-mouthed semi-denial of “As Man is, God once was” was pretty controversial inside the Mormon church as its one of the core tenets of Mormonism.

Fortunately, Mormons don’t regard press interviews as doctrine so nothing really changed as a result of Hinckley’s equivocations.

LouisB, if what you’re asking is not for us to explain the theological differences of the Mormon church from mainstream Christian churches but for us to predict what the various Christian churches will align themselves with politically in the upcoming election since one of the candidates will be a Mormon, you’re asking a political question rather than a religious one. My way of explaining it is that the Republican Party consists of a number of groups which don’t really agree with each other (and perhaps don’t much like each other) but which work with each other for the sake of getting their people elected. One of those groups are executives of big businesses. One of them are people who run small businesses. One of them is libertarians who care more about stopping governmental control of business rather than stopping governmental control of personal affairs. One of them are advocates of a large military willing to use that military easily. One of them are those mainstream Christian churches who believe that birth control, abortion, homosexuality, etc. should be controlled as far as possible. One of them is the Mormon church.

The Republican-slanted mainstream Christian churches have a deal with the other Republican groups. The other Republican groups will give lip service to mainstream Christian beliefs, even though they don’t actually much care about those beliefs. In return, the Republican-slanted mainstream Christian churches will give lip service to the business/military/libertarian Republican agenda and will avoid publicly condemning Mormons. The Mormons will in turn do their best not to publicly mention the ways in which they differ from mainsteam Christian beliefs.

So will the various Christian groups that usually back Republicans decide to disavow Romney because he is a Mormon? Probably not. Probably they will try to avoid ever discussing the beliefs of Mormons. They might try to obscure the issue by claiming, for instance, that Obama is a Moslem.

Oh, interesting minor point: Eisenhower was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. Shortly after taking office as President, he was baptised in a Presbyterian church.

Well, he couldn’t have been a very devout JW as the most famous general in the world.

I’ve caught Michael Purdy (who seems to be the current press facing spokesman) in a number of whoppers so far this year as well. The church has been actively denying a number of its teachings when asked in Romney related press releases. Unfortunately they forget that these teachings are still in places like their manuals which are publicly available.

I’m no longer with the church, so I guess it doesn’t affect me much. But I do find its current policy (for about 20 years now) of publicly presenting a different set of doctrines than it teaches to its members has become troubling. It would be very nice to see the membership press the leadership to come out with a clear and consistent doctrinal overview.