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I'm sure Mormons are neither Catholic nor Orthodox. There is no doubt that they are Christians but I'm not sure they are Protestants or not.

Are Mormons Protestants or they are just "Latter Day Saints"?

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It all depends on what you mean by "Protestant". Webster's reserves two definitions for the word "insects" - one for those having only three pairs of legs and the other one for those having just many legs. A child will say that a spider is an insect, and a scientist will say not, and both will be correct according to Webster's, because they will be using different definitions. So, it all depends on what definition you are using for the word "Protestants". –  brilliant Jul 13 '13 at 19:56
    
If your definition of "Protestant" is the one who calls himself a Christian and does not belong to the Oriental Orthodoxy, Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, then Mormons will fall into this category. However, if you say that a protestant is the one who calls himself a Christian, does not belong to to the Oriental Orthodoxy, Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, and yet believes that Jesus is God, then Mormons will be dismissed. –  brilliant Jul 13 '13 at 20:24
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Protestant and Catholic are two sides of the same coin. LDS is not of the same coin. The word "Christian," is used by more than 33,000 Protestant denominations, which have differing ideas on Christology, and not even the catholic churches agree completely. So, it would be better to address specific Protestant belief groups. –  Waeshael Jul 16 '13 at 14:43

3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

No, not really. While you might find them sometimes lumped together, they aren't a subset of the class.

In some popular usage, the term "Protestant" has come to mean anything that doesn't properly fall under the umbrella of either Catholicism or Orthodoxy. In this sense where there is no "Option D, none of the above", one would have to throw them in with the rest of Protestantism.

There is, however, also a fundamental difference: their theological roots are not the same. The LDS church is what is sometimes referred to as a "restorationist movement" - a reference to their theology's claim to be restoring something that was lost. While they agree with Protestants that the Catholic church lost it's way, their proposed solution varies radically from that of Protestantism.

The basic tenants of Protestantism as a movement include rejection of a few Catholic doctrines and ultimately the Catholic church's claim to apostolic authority. In rejecting some of the core tenants of Catholicism, it based itself instead on a core set of doctrines (often loosely summarized in the "5 solas") that all require a certain reliance on the Scriptures as authoritative and un-corrupted.

The LDS church on the other hand is fundamentally based on the premise that Apostolic authority was lost (much earlier than even the rise of the Catholic church) and needed to be miraculously restored. This and other revelations are believed to have been given independently (and in opposition to) the existing claims of the Bible and historical Christian churches (whether Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox).

In other words, while they would also protest against Rome, their basis for doing so is entirely independent of the Protestant reformation and theologically they should be considered a sect (or cult depending on who's definitions you're using) outside of the theological umbrellas of Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant traditions.

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Latter-Day Saints do not consider themselves to be Protestants. The most fundamental concept of the Protestant tradition is an attempt to replace Catholic traditions and Catholic theology with a reformed theology derived from reading the Bible and attempting to interpret it properly.

Latter-Day Saints believe that this is impossible to do successfully; that the Scriptures were given by revelation, and can't be understood in their fullness by the wisdom of men alone, but require the same spirit of revelation and prophecy by which they were given in the first place (2 Pet 1:20,21). Therefore, because the original Church had become corrupt and apostate, (Mormons agree with Protestants on this point,) what was necessary was not to reform the church and its doctrines, but to restore them in their purity, through revelation and direct divine intervention. The official LDS doctrine of the Restoration is explained on Mormon.org.

Mormons and (most) Protestants agree that this puts Latter-Day Saints outside the Protestant tradition.

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When you explain it like that it is difficult to call LDS Portestant or Reformed Catholicism. "Restored Christianity" seems like the term they would prefer. Like a Third Testament, maybe? –  fredsbend Jul 13 '13 at 19:38
    
@fredsbend No, it's "The Newest Testament". –  Mawia Jul 15 '13 at 9:56
    
Well, they do claim to have a "third testament" of sorts -- the Book of Mormon. –  Jay Mar 27 at 5:58

I'm a Mormon myself. I think the term is "Restorationist" as we believe that the fullness of the gospel had been lost from the earth, through a great apostasy. We believe that God restored the fullness of the Gospel to the earth through a Latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr., and that God continues to speak to His children through a living prophet today, the current one being Thomas S. Monson.

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So do you consider yourself protestant or not? –  curiousdannii Mar 27 at 3:39
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Welcome to the site! What follows next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer (which is good); it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first). As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites?. I hope to see you around! –  deleteMe Mar 27 at 12:51

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