What is the difference between Christian and Mormon?
There are some big differences, and we will get to them very soon. But first, let’s talk about the similarities.
Christians and Mormons both have the Bible, and they both say they believe Jesus Christ is God.
Christians -and Mormons- (they prefer to be known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or LDS) both believe Jesus died and rose again according to the scriptures.
And they hold this as an important and central belief.
Christians and Latter Day Saints are both some of the nicest people you’ll find.
Most LDS folks –as with most Christians- have very conservative God-fearing habits and beliefs.
Many LDS people regard themselves as another Christian denomination.
They live by the Golden Rule. They love God and they love their neighbor as themselves.
But there are some very important differences as we consider the Christian vs. Mormon belief systems.
These different beliefs come from the different books they look to and revere as true.
We will soon see that the differences between Christians and Latter Day Saints outweigh the similarities in a very dramatic way.
How are Latter Day Saints Different from Christians?
While Latter Day Saints have the Bible and read it ardently, they also read a collection of their own books they hold dearly.
Many Latter Day Saints think of themselves as Christians, while most Christians do not regard LDS as Christian.
This is because Latter Day Saints regard the Book of Mormon more highly than the Bible. So you could say they read things in the Bible through Mormon-colored glasses.
As a result, LDS doctrine on salvation is different from orthodox Christian doctrine.
LDS salvation is regarded as works-based, where orthodox Christian salvation is based on grace.
What do Latter Day Saints Believe?
Many beliefs LDS members hold dear come from the Bible.
But many other beliefs come from the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and other books that came from Joseph Smith.
Let’s remember that God gave us all a free will. LDS members don’t always march in lockstep with their church hierarchy.
So there are only two ways we can make a meaningful comparison between LDS and Christian churches.
One is by comparing what the leaders say. The other is by reading what the Mormon books say.
So just because the LDS church and the LDS scriptures say this –it might not mean every Latter Day Saint believes it.
But I included clickable references for each LDS belief to make it easy to check them.
So here are a number of key LDS beliefs that are different from Christian beliefs:
1- The Holy Bible is not the Word of God
Latter Day Saints do not believe that the Holy Bible is the true, inspired, inerrant Word of God. And they say so right at the official LDS website:
Here’s the quote:
While we do not believe the Bible to be inerrant, complete or the final word of God, we accept the essential details of the Gospels and more particularly the divine witness of those men who walked and talked with Him or were mentored by His chosen apostles. (emphasis added)
Here’s what I don’t understand: For people who don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God, LDS folks sure quote it a lot.
And here’s another quote straight from the official LDS church website:
When you dig deeper, you find out it means “We believe the Bible as long as it agrees with the Book of Mormon.”
2- The Christian Church is Corrupted
Latter Day Saints believe that the Christian church declined shortly after the deaths of the Apostles and became hopelessly lost.
Joseph Smith said that he asked God to show him a church to join and God’s answer was that their creeds were all corrupted, so he should start his own.
While I was able to locate the quote from the good folks at Fair Latter Day Saints, I wasn’t able to find out which specific creeds God told Joseph Smith were corrupted.
But Jesus Christ himself says;
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
Is this why LDS folks don’t list the specific creeds? If I find out, I will enter it here and let you know.
So here’s a question; If LDS think the Christian church is corrupted, why do they consider themselves a Christian denomination?
3- The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible many, many times.
Beginning with Jesus Christ.
According to the Bible, Jesus is God “who is, who was and who is to come.” (Revelation 1:8 ) He is the Alpha and the Omega -without beginning or end.
Jesus said “before Abraham was, I Am” (John 8:58). And in doing so, he invoked the eternal name of God by saying “I Am.”
He made Many Blatant Claims to be God (see my post) and he proved he is God.
LDS books say both God the Father and Jesus Christ have flesh and bones.(D&C 130:22)
But the Bible says God is Spirit. (John 4:24)
The Book of Mormon says God the Father is the Creator.
But according to the Bible Jesus Christ -the Son of God and Son of Man- is the Creator.
For another Biblical reference to Christ as Creator, see John 1:1-5.
Also see the entire first chapter of Hebrews (See Hebrews 1) where God the Father -among other things- calls Jesus Christ “Lord.”
4- Jesus is the Spirit brother of Lucifer
I’m not sure which is more troubling to me. Is it that they sidestep the clear teaching of Revelation 1:8 and John 8:58 above?
Or is it that they mixed up the Creator with a created being?
As I mentioned just a few lines higher above, Jesus claimed to be God. He did it boldly, blatantly, and repeatedly.
Jesus -and the Bible- steadfastly claim that he is God from everlasting to everlasting.
And the Old Testament prophecies clearly said the Messiah would be God and he would have many other divine attributes.
5- Jesus was created by God the Father
Yes folks. The Book of Mormon says Jesus was God’s first creation.
But according to Colossians 1:16, Jesus Christ created all things in heaven and earth! Yes, Jesus Christ is the Creator.
Not only that, but Jesus was there at the beginning! (John 1:1) How could he be at the Beginning and also be created by the Father?
Think about it. If Jesus created all things, how could he himself have been created?
And since he created all things, he also created (gulp) Lucifer. Maybe I will cover this in another post.
6- As Man Is, God Once Was
God was once a man who achieved godhood by…good works. Here’s how it is said among the LDS faithful: “as man is -God once was- and -as God is- man may become.”
But the Bible says in Malachi 3:6a “For I the Lord do not change” and in Revelation 1:8 he says ““I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
7- The Mormon Trinity
Latter Day Saints believe the Trinity is three separate Gods. What does the Bible say?
Orthodox Christian teaching about the Trinity hasn’t changed since the Father said “This is my son in whom I am well pleased” and the Holy Spirit came down on Christ like a dove.
It was in Mark 1:10-11.
But the Bible’s teaching of the Trinity as three coequal persons in a single godhead begins in the Old Testament books of Genesis 1:1 and going through the “shema” in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and on through Psalm 2:12, Proverbs 30:4 and so on.
Christian doctrine is that there is One God in Three Persons.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And it’s well-supported through deep scholarship that is too lengthy to handle here.
But LDS doctrine is that the Trinity is three separate Gods.
A Latter Day Saint explains LDS belief here:
He means well. What he forgets is that Christ left his heavenly home for his earthly sojourn.
When he became fully man, he had to leave his omniscience behind for a while.
Here’s where to read a short -yet excellent- explanation of the Christian Trinity.
8- Baptism of the Dead
This LDS reference claims that early Christians baptized for the dead:
But early Christians never baptized for the dead.
And you can learn why at this post where I wrote why baptism for the dead never was a Christian practice.
It still isn’t a Christian practice.
It’s sweet that LDS folks care enough about their dear deceased relatives to go through the effort.
But it just isn’t Biblical -and it leads to other errors. If you want to know why, just read my post about it.
9-Ancient North American Civilizations Visited by Christ
The Book of Mormon claims there were ancient civilizations in North America.
The Mormon Church even commissioned a department of archeology to investigate. They shut it down when it became clear that there is no evidence of these civilizations.
No ancient documents. No archaeological finds. No nothing.
Dee F. Green, former editor of University Archaeological Society Newsletter at BYU said:
Contrast this with the Bible.
Voluminous quantities of artifacts and ancient written records corroborate the true stories of the Bible from the Old Testament and the New Testament, with amazing detail.
And new discoveries are being made in the Holy Land daily.
And there is also no evidence Jesus Christ or any Jewish folks made it to America to preach the gospel to the natives.
Maybe this is why you can read the following statement of the church at the official LDS website:
The Church does not take a position on the specific geographic locations of Book of Mormon events in the ancient Americas.
But Biblical archaeologists have recorded archaeological discoveries in the Holy Land “with a spade in one hand and a Bible in the other.”
10- The Burning in the Bosom
Mormons believe that if you feel the “Burning in the Bosom” that it’s right.
Contrast this with how the Bible tells us to “search the scriptures” and to be like “Bereans” and the sons of Issachar.
We should be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. Know the scriptures and the times you’re in.
Use logic and reason as you search the scriptures, learn to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and do not follow every wind of doctrine.
11- The Doctrine of Polygamy
Polygamy was practiced in ancient times. It’s recorded in the Bible.
Major Bible characters practiced it.
They have names like Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Elkanah and others.
But God always said His way is one man and one woman from the beginning with Adam and Eve. This is clear Bible doctrine we’re talking about.
So we had Biblical saints who didn’t follow God very well. But God was gracious and overlooked their sins because they were looking ahead to when Christ would be revealed for their salvation.
In other words, God was gracious to these people in spite of their mistakes. We also learn that polygamy in the Bible always caused trouble.
Early Mormons practiced polygamy, too. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and others were quite prolific polygamists.
Smith had so many wives -historians’ count of their number varies.
It could have been as high as 49! And imagine how many more women he might have married if he hadn’t been killed at the age of 38.
Polygamy was a substantial part of the lives of LDS leaders. They made polygamy an official church doctrine in 1852.
It wasn’t until after the the US Congress made polygamy a Federal offense in 1887 that “the Lord inspired Church President Wilford Woodruff to issue a statement that led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.“
So -except for a few fringe elements- polygamy hasn’t been a part of the Latter Day Saints for 130-years-and-counting.
But there’s one really troubling thing about it -even today.
The official LDS website claims -in its opening statement on this subject:
“The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that the marriage of one man to one woman is God’s standard, except at specific periods when He has declared otherwise.“
Ouch! Did you read that right?
You might find this so hard to believe that you will have to click on the link to be sure it actually says so.
Actually, the above statement at the LDS website falsely represents the Bible’s position on polygamy. And it’s so easy to prove.
Old Testament polygamy is descriptive but not prescriptive. In other words, the OT describes polygamy but does not prescribe it.
God’s standard for marriage throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation has always been one man and one woman.
Let me put it another way. The Bible always says marriage is between one man and one woman. This is the Biblical prescription for marriage.
When people deviate from that, the Bible is merely describing the behavior and not prescribing it.
It’s shocking to me that the people running the official LDS website don’t know any better.
12- Temple Weddings and other Temple Rites
These rites are kind of secretive. And do you know why? They are based on Freemasonry.
And Freemasonry is secretive, too.
Yes, Joseph Smith was a Freemason and he based the Temple rituals on the rituals he learned from Freemasonry.
So what’s wrong with a little Freemasonry in the temple? Well, let’s just say that Freemasonry is a false universalist religion that denies the teachings of the Bible.
It denies the need for a savior. Freemasonry demotes Jesus Christ and makes him out to be less than God -less than who he truly is.
This leads to a works-based religion that teaches that we can earn our way into the eternal presence of God. And that is 180 degrees away from the Gospel message.
Unfortunately, Mormonism does the same thing Freemasonry does.
Consider this. The Mormon Jesus is created, is flesh and bone, is the spirit brother of Lucifer, and once was a man.
But the Jesus of the Bible is co-equal with the Father, is eternal, is Creator, is Spirit and became incarnate so he could take our place at the cross.
13 -LDS Marriage
Mormon temple marriages last for eternity. Here’s what the LDS official website says:
“Members of the Church believe that marriages performed in temples are “sealed,” or blessed to last for eternity.
The concept that the family unit can continue beyond the grave as a conscious, loving entity, with the marriage partnership and parent-child relationships intact, is a core belief of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
I think Jesus said something about marriage, didn’t he?
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”
14 -Lost Sheep of the House of Israel
Did Jesus Christ travel to North America to preach to the lost sheep of the house of Israel?
The Book of Mormon says so.
Problem is, there’s no record of a trip to North America by Jesus Christ. And Jesus had plenty of lost sheep of the house of Israel right inside Israel.
Beginning with the Pharisees.
When he cursed the fig tree, he was effectively saying the entire nation was lost.
As far as we know, the first Jews to arrive on America’s shores did so around AD 1700. Jesus ascended into heaven about 1670 years before that. (See my post about the meaning of BC and AD on the calendar and how it points to Jesus Christ)
15 – Is the Book of Mormon Christian?
We can ask this of the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants.
Latter Day Saints view the Holy Bible as secondary to the LDS books.
Since the Latter Day Saints place the veracity of the Bible below the LDS books, this is a big problem for them.
Why? Because these LDS books diverge from the Bible and even contradict it in many ways.
In writings of the church elders, they claim their books are the same as adding the New Testament to the Old Testament 2000 years ago.
But they forget something.
The Old Testament contains hundreds of scriptures prophesying the coming Christ.
So when this Christ came, the New Testament writers could point and say he arrived “according to the scriptures.
So did the Bible give us any prophecies of another book to come at a future date -after the Bible? And could it have foretold the writing of the Book of Mormon 1800 years in advance of the fact?
Well- yes it did! So do Latter Day Saints have something to go on? Maybe.
Let’s read the passage together:
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:8-9 (emphasis added)
OK. If you don’t get it -Joseph Smith tells us he received the Mormon books on gold plates from an angel. The angel Moroni.
According to the Bible, it’s not looking good for the Book of Mormon.
Latter Day Saints have a lot of beliefs that diverge from orthodox Christianity.
When we say they are not Christians, it’s not meant to be demeaning.
It’s just that LDS beliefs have too many divergences from Bible-believing Christianity for it to them called Christian.
With that said, we also need to give Latter Day Saints a certain amount of credit and learn from the best of what they do.
They create strong marriages and strong family bonds that lead to a strong society.
Latter Day Saints report a similar divorce rate (~5%) to committed Christians who pray together and attend church together regularly and read the Bible together regularly.
Notice I said “committed Christians.” There are plenty of people who call themselves Christians and attend church now-and-then. But they aren’t committed.
I think there’s a message there.
Latter Day Saints are more independent and less likely to use government programs to get by.
While these traits are very good for this life, there’s a concern about the life to come.
LDS theology makes fundamental changes to the clear teaching of the Bible.
In so doing, it distorts the fundamental reality of who God really is as well as the true identity of the Messiah -Jesus Christ.
It’s been said that “the Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.”
But you can’t say the same about the Book of Mormon.
Christians and Latter Day Saints alike should carefully consider that and learn why this saying is so true and well-tested.
And study the Bible very carefully and learn its deep truths.