What Makes a Christian?

In its simplest, what set of beliefs qualify one as a Christian??

I was on Facebook (mistake) talking about the new Mitt Romney movie. I commented that while I disagreed with his politics, I believed he was a good man… That he really walked the walk as a Christian. My friend’s brother commented that Mormons weren’t Christian. Huh?

Is this like that “Catholics aren’t Christians” thing? Or are Mormons missing one of the fundamentals of Christian faith?

To my mind, it’s pretty simple:

  • Jesus is the son of God
  • he died for the sake of man’s salvation
  • the path to heaven is to believe those two things

Am I missing something? Don’t Mormons believe those things? Fight my ignorance here!

Older thread: Are Mormons also “Christian?”

I swear I did a search. Promise! Thanks for the link.

Hmm. Well aside from the argument, that was in very poor taste. I’m sorry you were attacked that way for such a seemingly positive intent on your part. You like the guy and think he’s a good example. Cast the first stone comes to mind. Facebook can lead to some intrusive behaviors I’ve noticed.

Christianity comes in many forms and used to be even more diverse. Early Christians believed all manner of things prior to the rise of orthodoxy, which demanded a certain set of beliefs or be executed as a heretic.

I think most would define Christians similar to your definition, but people who are 100% sure they are correct and that others are wrong like to reserve the term for their own set of beliefs.

I guess it depends on whether you consider the “Telestial Kingdom” to be part of heaven. If so, then no, Mormons don’t believe all those things.

I had to look it up. Good read…

JWT Kottekoe ‘heretic’ isn’t the opposite of ‘Christian’. When a Christian calls someone a heretic, he means that they follow a defective form of Christianity, not a whole different religion. From the point of view of (say) the Eastern Orthodox Church, all other Christian churches are heretical to a greater or lesser degree.

Mormons certainly differ much more from either, say, Catholicism or Lutheranism than either of them do from each other, but they equally clearly believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate and the savior of mankind. I don’t know what their relationship with God is, and it’s not really my business. Unless you’re Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, there is no earthly authority with the power to
police the boundaries of Christianity anyway.

I agree and did not mean to suggest otherwise.

St. Dr. Frankenstein Martyr.

Well, for a lot of Christians, the last point may be sticking point - which leads other people to say “Catholics aren’t Christians” because Catholics believe faith & good works leads to heaven (the “path to heaven” is more than just believing those things). There are also those Liberal Christians who don’t necessarily believe the path to heaven involves believing a specific thing.

Regarding Mormons specifically, that Trinity thing looms pretty heavily ;).

mostly carbon atoms and whatever belief system they chose to invest their time in.

the ability to define someone else.

Seeing all the different ways the Bible can be(and has been) interpreted, written, rewritten etc., coupled with all those that ignore the Bible in favor of the “God” that that communicates with them directly, I’d say that any one who thinks that they are a Christian should be considered a Christian.

I would say you’re a Christian if you think Jesus was genuinely supernatural and that his death meant you were saved from something (like oblivion when dead, or Hell).

Different Christians will have different beliefs about specifics, but I think that covers almost all of them.

To me a Christian is anyone who believes Jesus was somehow supernatural or divine. Doesn’t have to be the Son of God. Some gnostics say he was a man who ascended to divinity through enlightenment. Or the Cathars, who thought Jesus was an angel. Though they thought we were all angels, but he was a special angel who came down to teach us how to be free of the evil world, or something like that.

Guess I leave out people who think Jesus was purely human but they like his teachings, but eh…so do Muslims and Jews. That’s pretty weak tea for a movement. Might as well be a Buddhist or a Jain instead.

Sorry for the double post, but does Valentinianism have the weirdest Christian beliefs about Jesus? Or at least, the most complicated?

Most complicated I’ve ever seen.

Am I the only one that thought this might be a Heinlein reference?

Oh, you definitely have the ones who don’t think Jesus was divine, but yet go to church every Sunday anyway - as they believe Him to basically be a prophet to points to who God really is (I just think its a bit strange, but you know, whatev).

This. A Christian is someone who calls themselves a Christian. Trying to use any other definition always turns into a crossfire of various self declared Christians claiming that other people who call themselves Christian, aren’t.

That is, as you’ve discovered, quite a complex issue, most of the complications coming from, IMHO, the person providing the answer.

Your friend’s brother is, let’s say, ill-informed.

It’s exactly like that. IME, the ones touting “Mormons aren’t Christians” also hold to the line, “Catholics aren’t Christians.”

Guess it depends on what one considers to be the fundamentals of said faith.

Well, not all Christian sects hold to those three.

Here is the short list of Mormon beliefs. It’s the Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Note: AFAI, in common parlance, Mormon refers to this particular church or its members. p.s. Here is the same link with footnotes.

Now, there are other churches which trace their lineage back to Joseph Smith, Jr. They, of course, have different sets of beliefs.