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I'm looking for concrete theological beliefs and practices on where they differ. Christians say that Mormons aren't Christian and yet Mormons call themselves Christian. So it can be quite hard to tell for a everyday person who is who and what is what.

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Welcome to the forum, Josh. This question may be too broad to be answered. There are differences between the two on the nature of God, salvation, the afterlife, recognized scriptures, etc. If you can narrow the focus a bit, you may get a better answer. –  Narnian Dec 20 '12 at 19:45
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In addition to what Narnian pointed out, there are a lot of questions on this topic that have already been asked and answered. Have a look at the "lds" tag to see what our community has already covered, and if you find that you have a question on a subject that hasn't been asked yet, feel free to ask that. –  Mason Wheeler Dec 20 '12 at 19:50
    
Why do you focus your question on evangelical Christianity? –  Drew Dec 20 '12 at 20:14
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Just traditional Christianity is what I mean. I honestly don't know enough on how to ask the question properly. Also, Mason, I tried to find something similar, but could not. –  Josh Dec 20 '12 at 20:59
    
Josh, Check this question out. Soteriology is one of the starkest differences between the two, along with the theology of God. Also, you probably wont find an answer to the question of if Mormons are Christians or not because the FAQ here states "any group that identifies themselves as Christian are to be considered on-topic and allowed to label themselves Christian." –  tmolloy8 Dec 21 '12 at 0:24
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4 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The "Evangelical" movement spreads across an incredibly wide range of beliefs, so it will be hard to nail this down, but a few things come to mind that ought to have broad acceptance and make at least some form of answer possible. For convenience in the rest of this answer, please treat the word "Evangelical" merely as broadly representing "Most Evangelicals".

  • Mormons believe that men can become Gods, or become like God. Evangelicals do not, and believe that God is the singular, unique, and supreme being.
  • Mormons see Jesus as a separate entity from God the Father. Evangelicals view God the Father and Jesus as parts of the same entity. It's hard to understate how important this point is, especially in light of the first point: the Mormon view withholds from Jesus some part of God's place as the unique divinity.
  • Mormons believe that around 600B.C. a prophet lead a group of Jews out of Jerusalem to the New World (America), where for a time they flourished. Evangelicals do not.
  • Mormons believe that a prophet to that group created a certain set a gold tablets, which Joseph Smith later translated. Evangelicals believe these tablets are utter bunk.
  • Mormons believe that Jesus incarnate visited the North American Continent. Evangelicals do not.
  • Mormons believe in the writings and teachings of Joseph Smith, that they are related directly or almost directly from God. Evangelicals believe Joseph Smith to be somewhere in between a deliberate con-artist, charlatan, and mentally insane, and point to serious concerns over the credibility of Joseph Smith's claim to 8 witnesses.
  • Mormons believe the Apostle John is still alive. Evangelicals (with some exception) do not.
  • Yes, Mormons have allowed and supported polygamy. Evangelicals, at this time, do not, but there are places in the world and times in history where this does not hold.
  • Mormons believe in something called Pre-mortal Life, that Evangelicals do not.
  • Mormons practice Baptism for the Dead. Evangelicals do not.
  • Mormons practice a ritual known as "Endowments", that Evangelicals do not.
  • Mormons believe that all men will come to glory, but that non-believers will come to less glory than practicing Christians... but there is no hell. Evangelicals believe in eternal punishment for non-believers and all those who refuse to submit to the will of God.

The root question here, though, is whether or not Mormons are themselves even Christian. To understand this, you need to look at it from both sides. In a broad sense, one is a Christian when one acknowledges the person of Christ as their creator and Lord. Everything else — all the denomitions, splits, and arguments — is just details.

With that in mind, the Non-mormon Christian perspective is that Mormons have been lead astray, and have allowed the teachings of Joseph Smith and his successors to supersede and in many cases replace those of Christ... and so they no longer follow Christ supremely, but (perhaps unwittingly) follow the teachings of Joseph Smith instead. Moreover, since Mormons refuse to grant Jesus full unity with God the Father, but hold him separate from God the Father, it is offensive to mainline Christians to watch Mormons hold up the teachings of Joseph Smith to the level of Christ, yet still use the name of Christ to describe themselves.

The Mormon perspective is that Joseph Smith's teachings are Christ's teachings, that Joseph Smith was merely His mouthpiece. They hold both the Old and New Testaments to be scripture (just not all scripture), and so to be considered "not Christian" is offensive to Mormons, because they still believe that Christ died for their sins, just as "regluar" Christians do.

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Your second bullet point is incorrect. Mormons hold a different view of the Godhead than the Trinitarian concept that Evangelicals believe, but in no way do they deny the divinity of Jesus. –  Mason Wheeler Dec 20 '12 at 21:29
    
@MasonWheeler if that's my only error in Mormon doctrine, I'll be very pleased with this. Corrected. –  Joel Coehoorn Dec 20 '12 at 21:35
    
From my understanding they in no way hold up Joseph Smith to the Level of Christ. Also, Regardless of what some other answers here say, The only references I have found on their site point to Apostle John returning in a resurrected form, not having never died. I think it's worth noting that mormons do not currently practice polygamy anywhere, since some evangelicals did. (you might disagree about them being evangicals but some still do in Maine I think) I would also add that Mormons believe just about everyone is going to go to heaven, and evangelicals do not. –  MaskedPlant Dec 20 '12 at 22:09
    
@MaskedPlant I don't think I claim mormons hold Joseph Smith on the same level as Christ, especially in light of the 2nd half of the first sentence of the last paragraph. –  Joel Coehoorn Dec 20 '12 at 22:29
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One minor error in your last bullet point. Latter-Day Saints do believe in Hell, in essentially the traditional sense, (a place of endless punishment for the wicked,) which they call Outer Darkness--a term used by the Savior a few times in his parables--but LDS theology holds that only those who have deliberately and knowingly committed extremely grave sins will be consigned to it. One has to know exactly what they're doing and what's at stake, and just not care, and choose to throw salvation away. It's not something that, as Evangelicals hold, can happen if you just believe the wrong thing. –  Mason Wheeler Dec 31 '12 at 5:53
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Simply put Evangelicals differ over at least three primary things:

1. The Nature of Jesus

Evangelicals believe Jesus to be God - of one being with Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, etc... Mormons do not. Mormons believe Jesus to be divine, but a separate person from the Father. Evangelicals tend to subscribe to the historic creeds of the church - Nicene, Apostles, etc... - and are almost invariably Trinitarian. (I cannot say that I have ever run across a non-Trinitarian Evangelical, but as it is a movement and not a denomination, there are always exceptions).

Note: In the comments, there was a notion that the creeds only adhered to the "Catholic" church. Insofar as "catholic" is understood as "universal" or "what most people think of when they think of 'mainstream' Christianity, that is accurate. If that were taken to mean the 'Roman Catholic Church,' that would be precise, but inaccurate, in that most Protestants and Orthodox also subscribe to the Creeds and to the Trinitarian formulations thereof.

2. The nature of the "Bible"

Evangelicals consider the canon to be closed. Mormons have their own scriptures composed well after the period.

3. The nature of soteriology

Evangelicals, by and large, believe salvation to be solely the gift of God. We believe that all who are saved entire into eternal relationship with God. Mormons believe that people are rewarded according to the nature of the covenant they believed.

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Point 1 is incorrect. Mormons hold a different view of the Godhead than the Trinitarian concept that Evangelicals believe, but in no way do they deny the divinity of Jesus. –  Mason Wheeler Dec 20 '12 at 21:28
    
Revised. Agreed that the wording was poor. –  Affable Geek Dec 20 '12 at 21:39
    
Can you add to the first point that evangelicals believe there is one and only one God, that Jesus cannot be both divine and separate from the Father, because that would make more than one God. Not one God for this world, but one God, period. And the Spirit is also of that one God. –  thursdaysgeek Dec 27 '12 at 4:07
    
Do Evangelicals believe that GOD IS ONE for Christianity, Judaism, and the Moslem faith? But not for the LDS? –  Waeshael Jul 1 '13 at 2:52
    
And which version of the Trintarian Creed do Evangelicals pronounce? The Roman Catholic, The Orthodox, The Anglican, The C of E, the Episcopalian, or something else? –  Waeshael Jul 1 '13 at 2:55
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Q: practices on where they differ? These practices are different to Evangelical groups.

All LDS adults are also Priests, and the responsibility for their neighbors is a covenantal promise. Everyone in the local Church has a Priest assigned to them and he visits the home every month to see if anything is needed, and reports back to the Bishop.

LDS live a life of Christ, as far as it is possible in this day and age. They are monitored by the brethren and warned if they stray from God's Will as it is defined by Scripture and by revelations of the Prophets.

None of the clergy is paid. As in the early Church, each person must support themselves with a job outside the Church.

The Church has a central authority. Everyone believes the same theology. There is no disagreement in the Church.

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I agree with all of this, except to say that there is disagreement in the LDS church now, just as there was in Moses' and Christ's times. –  Brian Rushton Jun 30 '13 at 19:29
    
Ah, things must have changed since I was there. –  Waeshael Jul 1 '13 at 2:56
    
I think the All Enlisted group disagrees with many teachings. –  Brian Rushton Jul 1 '13 at 3:05
    
I didn't like giving up tea, but I didn't disagree with the teaching. WHat do you mean by "All Enlisted" - I am not familiar with it. –  Waeshael Jul 1 '13 at 3:17
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Christians believe the Bible and the traditional understanding of what the Bible teaches, as summarized through the centuries in the various creeds (Nicene Creed, Apostles' Creed, Westminster Confession, etc). All Christian denominations, both Catholic and Protestant, are united in the following beliefs taken directly from Biblical teachings:

  • There is only one God, and there has only ever been one God, in the entire Universe
  • This one God has revealed himself in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- but these three are a unity (hence "tri-unity" or Trinity)
  • Jesus of Nazareth is the human form taken by this one God when he came to Earth to live a perfect life and allow himself to be sacrificed for the sins of all men
  • That through this sacrifice of Jesus, all men can be reconciled to God and have their sins forgiven, without any deserving efforts of their own
  • There are many more, but this will serve to show some essential differences.

Mormonism differs from Christianity in that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young (and others) taught that there have been more recent gospels: the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Convenants, Pearl of Great Price -- as well as all sermons preached by Smith and Young as recorded in the Journal of Discourses.

Further, the Mormon church teaches that the Bible is a lesser source, in that it has been "corrupted" and is essentially not the same as what was first written. (This game, under a different name, "Post Office", is often used as an example of how/why that happened.) Therefore, Mormons say, it is more important to read/believe the latter teachings. However, Christians point to examples from archaeology, such as the 1947 Dead Sea scrolls discovery, in which most books of the Old Testament were discovered, dating back 100 years before the birth of Jesus. The book of Isaiah, for example, shows only 13 characters in question, none of which change the meaning of any phrase. On the other hand, the Book of Mormon (to compare apples with apples) even changes the identity of God in one of it's 3,900+ changes since it was first published in 1830. (Compare 1 Nephi 11:18 and 1 Nephi 11:21 with their originals in 1830. Knowing Mormon theology, you will know that "God" and the "Son of God" are Elohim and Jehovah, respectively. This is a significant, theology-altering, change.)

Over and above the Bible's teachings, and sometimes in conflict with the Bible's teachings, the Mormon leaders taught that:

  • There is only one God -- for this world. Every world has its own God, and every temple-going Mormon male hopes and believes that one day he will be judged worthy to become a God. As such he will receive/create his own World and will populate it with spirit children.

  • God was once a man, and therefore He also has a father (as does his father, as does his father, etc). Where this stops is not discussed in Mormon literature.

  • All humans (including Jesus) pre-existed in the spirit world. Jesus, Lucifer, Mary and you are all spirit brothers and sisters. In the spirit world Jesus was known as "Jehovah", and the Father's name is "Elohim"

  • Jesus was born to Elohim (God the Father) and the virgin Mary through normal physical relations.

  • The Book of Mormon tells the story of a Jewish family (time of Abraham) that sailed across the world to settle in America. The American Indians discovered by Columbus are the descendants of these Semitic peoples.

There are a vast number of other differences between the teachings of Christianity and Mormonism. You may wish to investigate the following areas: polygamy (many wives), polytheism (many gods), archaeology, scripture, the nature of God, the Trinity, the history of Christianity.

Most Christians who have investigated the claims and teachings of Mormonism firmly state that there are virtually NO common essential beliefs between Christianity and Mormonism. This matter is confusing to many people because Mormon teachings use the same names/words as Christian sources, but with completely different meanings. For example, the Mormon Jesus is not at all like the Christian Jesus, although the Mormon Jesus is said to BE the Christian Jesus. However, if you compare their origins, what they claimed about themselves, and their position after death, you will see little resemblance. They are two totally different beings.

Sources:

CRI - Mormonism

Utah Lighthouse

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This answer is riddled with both trivial and gaping flaws. Many points mentioned are incorrect and are not even on matters of significant doctrine, but rather speculation both in and out of the LDS Church. Your sources are highly suspect of strong bias and guile, having agendas. In fact, the whole answer is spotted by a subjective perspective. See Are Mormons Christians for a more factual answer. –  Matt Dec 11 '13 at 20:44
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Please identify any point listed above and references will be provided from Mormon sources for that teaching. As for bias, Matt, was it not Joseph Smith himself who claimed that Elohim and Jehovah appeared to him and said that all Christian denominations "were wrong", that "their "professors were all corrupt", and "all their creeds were an abomination in his sight"? Is this not also what the Mormon church teaches today? If not, please provide the names of a few mainstream Christian denominations that Mormons would say agree with Mormon theology. –  Mormon Investigator Dec 11 '13 at 22:41
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Before this escalätes, I need to point out that "who is right and who is wrong" is off-topic, not constructive, leads to debate that is OK in chat, but not welcome on the main site. See: the help page, How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Dec 12 '13 at 4:20
    
I don't have time to be on the chat, but in the interest of improving this answer, @MormonInvestigator feel free to email me and I'd be happy to suggest a few changes and tell you more about where I'm coming from. It will also be good for me to better understand your perspective. –  Matt Dec 12 '13 at 5:29
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