Sunday, October 7

If you're tired of the Mormon/Christian debate, don't read this

I'm writing on this never ending issue because I need some catharsis...

From an online debate this morning:
Christianity is based on an entirely different gospel than what Mormons teach. If you believe that you have the truth, then why are calling yourselves Christians. Do you believe that Mormonism is true? I believe Christianity is true, and I call myself a Christian because I believe in the truth about Christ from the Bible and the bible alone. You follow Mormonism that makes you a Mormon. Call it what it is, and stop trying to make yourselves look good to the rest of the world. If you believe in your "religion" than stop being ashamed of it. The Buddha followers call themselves Buddhists, Jehovah Witnesses call themselves Jehovah witnesses. The people that practice Catholicism call themselves Catholics. Call yourselves Mormons so that you can be distinguished from Christianity."

I loved Elder Holland’s talk yesterday. But of course, now the online debates are raging once again. WE ARE WORKING WITH TWO DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS HERE. The Mormon side says, “of course we’re Christian, we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.” The other side says, “no you're not, you don’t solely believe in the Bible, and you don’t accept the Trinity.” AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAGGGGHHHHH! I’m normally one to be patient with ongoing debates like this one but it’s driving me crazy.

The writer above appears to be Protestant. Why doesn’t she call herself that? And Catholics aren’t Christian? I thought they were. “Christian” is a big label to me. Just like “Buddhist” or “Muslim”. In my mind the argument is flawed. It is saying we should call ourselves “Mormon” because “Buddha followers call themselves Buddhists,” but the term “Mormon” is not on the same systemic level as "Buddhist" or "Christian.”

Really the only frustrating thing about this is the debate will not end because we are arguing past each other. We are not talking about the same thing. When you are debating with someone, it’s generally a good idea to make sure you’re talking about the same thing, isn’t it? So in a stretch toward peace on this issue, I concede that by the definition above (i.e. only read the Bible), I am not Christian. By my definition (try to follow Christ), I am. It all depends on your definition.

Is my argument on this issue flawed? Let me know! I'm curious. What do you think on this issue?

I suppose Pema would tell me I need to "stay" with my annoyed feelings on this issue, and learn to connect with others in the world who also feel annoyed.


  1. I happened to run into someone doing a video project on Ohio State student's views on the afterlife the other day on OSU campus. When I told him I was from Utah he said "So, then I just have to ask, are yo..." I jumped in with "Yes, I'm Mormon" before he could finish. He responded by saying he didn't understand the differences between Mormons and Traditional Christians, so he didn't have any questions. I told him to ask anyway and he did and at the end commented on how we have much more in common than he thought.

    The point is, we all worship Christ, therefore we're Christians. (Just like the Buddhists worship Buddha. We don't worship Mormon!) We have a lot of fundamentals in common, although we do disagree on some pretty big stuff too. Either way, I think your characterization at the end is accurate... It depends on the definition/context you are using the term in. I personally have defaulted to saying we are "Christian" but not "Traditional Christian". That's seemed to work to some extend.

    Thanks for the post, being out here in Ohio where I've been running into this issue more than in Provo, it was very entertaining to read!

  2. The logical error is a bit glaring. If believing that the Book of Mormon as scripture means one has to refer to oneself solely as a Mormon, then believing only in the Bible would mean you have to call yourself a Bible. More grammatically accurate terms would perhaps be "Mormonist" and "Biblian." How they get Christian out of Bible I don't follow. He doesn't even show up until the book's more than halfway over.

    A football teammate who was raised Jehovah's Witness and I decided this past Sunday (during a break from the NFL) that we want to join forces to form the ultimate proselytizing empire, The "Jack Mormon Witnesses." Free lattes at sign up. All the books are just fine, including but not limited to Dr Seuss and Lord of the Rings, for its instructive value. Star Trek is also taken quite seriously though I foresee a schism about which Star Trek is "true." Always need something to debate, I guess.

  3. I say it's definitely TNG. Other Star Treks aren't true at all. And everyone who disagrees with me is not true.

    Oh and you can include the Screwtape Letters and Batman: Year One on your JMW reading list. : )

  4. Hi Adam, I came across your blog because I'm listening to Pema Chodron and wanted to know more about shenpa. I liked the name of your site....

    As a frequent reader of the Trib, I get tired of this same debate. I think that anyone who follows what Christ teaches can be (and be called) a Christian. I just don't think there is a need for anyone to tell you what you "are" and what you "aren't" in the way of beliefs.

    I don't know why "traditional" Christians get so bothered by it all. I think if you are truly following the teachings of Christ, it really shouldn't matter to you.

    Anyway, enjoyed your posts. I may stop by now and again.

  5. Hello

    As a non-native living in UT, the "are you Mormon?" anecdote within Steve's post, brings to light an amusing thing I have come to experience; when outside of UT, I am likely to be asked "Are you Mormon", while within Utah, I am equally likely to be asked "Are you LDS?"

    @emily: There are many folks who I have come across who do identify themselves as "Biblical Christians". In Mormon-dom, the closest equivalent tends to be on par with a 'Jack Mormon', but there are also The Way of the Master Kirk Cameron types.

    Personally, I do not quite understand why any Christian group gets upset about what the others think. In the end, neither *really* believe the others are True Christians anyhow, given that each Church mentions that they are the True Church with the True Path. After you get your 501c3 status, why does it matter?


  6. "After you get your 501c3 status, why does it matter?"

    Because they're worried we're going to hell. Mormons shouldn't worry as much about other Christians because we only have to worry about them going to the lowest degree of heaven, arguably better than hell. At least better than the Dante or South Park versions. But maybe not as good as Bill and Ted's.


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