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If there is no clear definition stemming from the Bible of what makes one a Christian, how does mainstream Christianity justify labeling groups like the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses as Non Christians?

Members from both groups seem to take a more active role in spreading Christ's message of salvation than do the most rooted mainstream Christian church members, based off of their missionary efforts even though some of their doctrines do not conform to the norms as held by most Christians. There is evidence enough to come to their doctrinal conclusions, even if we disagree with them.

So is non normative theology enough for mainstream Christianity to label others as non-Christian?

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You seem to be asking two things: your first two sentences is asking what reasons 'mainstream Christianity' has for labelling these groups Non-Christian, while the rest is asking whether they're right to do so? I think it would be good to edit the question to ask just one of those. –  curiousdannii Dec 29 '13 at 23:21
    
Moderator Notice: Do to the extensive and messy nature of comments and answers to this question, I have done some major housecleaning. All comments that are not about the post (or obsoleted by edits) have been removed, as have a few answers. All further discussion about the suitability of this post (or my actions in moderating it) should be taken up on the related meta post. –  Caleb Jan 3 at 9:51
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6 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I want to preface the rest of this with the statement that I am merely answering the question. I am not saying whether mainstream Christians are right or wrong in their position. But I am going to answer exactly the question by showing why they classify these two groups as non-Christians and backing it up with references.


The Basis:

I'm going to start out with a quote from Ray Comfort, addressing something completely different and then tying it in to this answer.

During his Hell's Best Kept Secret teaching, he speaks of people that say things like "I don't believe that a loving God would send me to hell. My God is a God of love, not wrath and judgment." Ray says "If they ever tell you that, say, 'you're right. Your god would never send you to Hell because he can't. He doesn't exist. he's a figment of your imagination. You created a god in your mind in your own image. that's called idolatry, it's the oldest sin in the book, and all idolators are condemned to Hell.'".

The reason that "mainstream Christians" don't classify Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons as "Christians" is that "mainstream Christians" say that these groups are not worshiping the same God. "Mainstream Christians" would say they use the same name, but the "god" is very different.

The LDS view of God is very different from the view of mainstream Christianity. In the LDS view, Jesus is a created being, the brother of Satan, as opposed to being God Himself.

The Jehovah's Witnesses also affirm Jesus as a created being, distinct from God.

"Mainstream Christians" would claim that both of these groups deny key portions of the Bible.

The two denominations mentioned also claim that the mainstream Christians are deceived, coming from an Apostate Church, or just outright wrong. That's part and parcel with being "The One True Church". You can't be "The One True Church" unless the others are wrong. Since both of these denominations make that claim, they are denying the validity of all denominations other than their own by definition.

So the key thing to keep in mind here is that it's not a one-sided "You're wrong, I'm right" with the "Mainstream" on one side and the other two groups on the other side. it's a multiple-pointed figure, where all sides believe that the other is wrong.

Even within "Mainstream Christianity", there's division. Some Protestants (I'm not among them) claim that the Catholic Church teaches demonic heresies. That praying to saints is idolatry, etc.

So the basis is simple: It's that the core beliefs about the nature of God is so wildly different that it's completely irrational to try to claim that they worship the same God. Once you get past the name, the fact that they are wildly different is undeniable. So "Mainstream Christians" would make this claim because they see the worship of what thy see as a made-up "God" is idolatry, pure and simple.


And as promised,references to back up the fact that this is he basis:

Example of a mainstream protestant explanation of why the LDS Church is not a "Christian" Church:

from CARM

"Is Mormonism Christian?" The answer is simple. No. Mormonism is not Christian.

If you are a Mormon, please realize that CARM is not trying to attack you, your character, or the sincerity of your belief. If you are a non-Mormon looking into Mormonism, or if you are a Christian who is simply researching Mormonism, then this article should be of help.

The reason Mormonism is not Christian is because it denies one or more of the essential doctrines of Christianity. Here is a basic list of what true Christianity teaches as essential doctrine according to the Bible.

  • There is only one God in all existence (Exodus 20:1-4; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; 45:5).
  • Jesus is divine (John 1:1;14; 8:24; Col. 2:9)
  • Forgiveness of sins is by grace alone without works (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:28; 4:1-5)
  • Jesus rose from the dead physically (John 2:19-21; Luke 24:39)
  • The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:1-4)

Mormonism denies that there is only one God in all existence and also denies the forgiveness of sins alone in Christ alone. Therefore, it is outside Christianity. It is not a Christian religion.

And their statement on Jehovah's Witnesses

The answer to the question is, "No. It is not Christian." Like all non-Christian cults, the Jehovah's Witness organization distorts the essential doctrines of Christianity. It denies the deity of Christ, His physical resurrection, and salvation by grace. This alone makes it non-Christian. To support its erring doctrines, the Watchtower organization (which is the author and teacher of all official Jehovah's Witness theology), has even altered the Bible to make it agree with its changing and non-Christian teachings.

Typical with cults that use the Bible to support its position is a host of interpretive errors:

  • Taking verses out of their immediate context.
  • Refusing to read verses in the entire biblical context.
  • Inserting their theological presuppositions into the text.
  • Altering the Biblical text to suit their needs.
  • Latching onto one verse to interpret a host of others.
  • Changing the meanings of words.
  • Proclaiming some passages to be figurative when they contradict their doctrines.
  • Adding to the Word of God.

And to be fair, a reference backing up that the LDS Church teaches that Mainstream Christians are wrong, and that only the Church established through Joseph Smith is "right".

From the Joseph Smith story:

Wondering which of the many churches to join, Joseph had followed the counsel in the Bible's book of James: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God." The Lord told Joseph "that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines" and that he was to await further instructions from on high.2 "In a state of calmness and peace indescribable," Joseph left that sacred grove knowing the reality of our Father in Heaven and His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ. 3

Joseph Smith's first vision stands today as the greatest event in world history since the birth, ministry, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After centuries of darkness, the Lord opened the heavens to reveal His word and restore His Church through His chosen prophet.

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Oddly enough, I find your CARM reference highly dubious. As an LDS, I think every bullet except the first is unfounded. The first one is only true due to technicality, but functionally it's false. Likely my disagreements come down to semantics. I won't argue about it here though I feel some of these may warrant being questions themselves... –  Daniel Cook Jan 3 at 18:06
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@David Stratton You gave a list of "what true Christianity teaches as essential doctrine according to the Bible." Can you give references from official lds church sources that say we don't believe any of those doctrines? –  Nelson Jan 3 at 18:11
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@Nelson Possibly, if you were to make that a question or a series of questions. I'm not going to do so in comments. You could take the list of bullet points from the quotes and get several good "Does the LDS Church teach..." questions, and get unbiased answers to those, with references. Check to make sure they're not duplicates, though. And to clarify, I didn't make the claims, or list them, I was quoting a "mainstream Christian" view. –  David Stratton Jan 3 at 20:25
    
"I am not saying whether mainstream Christians are right or wrong in their position." Then you go on to use words such as "lunacy" to describe those that disagree. Consider critically reviewing your answer and either removing subjective noise, or removing the original statement where you claim to be avoiding judgement. –  Adam Davis Jan 22 at 21:38
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@AdamDavis - I don't mean to be argumentative, but please re-read what I actually said. I did not say that the belief in either the LDS, mainstream, or JW God is lunacy. I said that to call them the same God is lunacy. Mainstream is not created, has no physical body, is spirit. LDS is a being with a physical body, who was once a created man in another universe who was exalted and became the God of this universe. By definition, that is not the same, it is different. That's all I said, and all I meant. I implied nothing about the validity of either view. –  David Stratton Jan 23 at 0:08
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Before we start to answer this, a little history is needed. Both the Latter-Day Saints and Jehovah's Witnesses are Restorationist churches. That means that they were founded on the belief that all the other churches in the world had ceased to hold to the whole correct Christian doctrine, and that a direct revelation from God to the founders caused them to start an entirely new church, and to separate themselves from the 'corrupt' churches that were then in existence (yes, 'corrupt' was the word they used at the time. I'm aware it has a technical meaning that isn't the same as 'dishonest', but it's not very polite even in its technical meaning, which is essentially of a church that has stopped following God). Today both will attempt to convert members of other denominations to their own faith, and insist that people baptized in other Christian denominations are rebaptized to become members of their sects. Cooperation of any kind between Mormons and mainstream churches is extremely rare (compared with cooperation between other denominations), and the non-mainstream sects are at least as assiduous in rejecting it as the mainstream churches.

So in short, both Mormons and JWs stated for themselves that they are a completely different faith from the mainstream church, and continue to act in that way towards others.

Mormons hold to an additional revelation and additional scriptures, belief in which they consider essential to their own faith, and which are not accepted by other churches and in many cases contradict the tenets of other churches. JWs use a unique Bible translation which they hold to be authoritative and which disagrees in many places with all other translations. Both hold to unique doctrines, particularly about the person of Jesus, which differ fundamentally from what mainstream churches believe and which they consider to be a non-negotiable part of their faith.

Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that mainstream churches find it hard to accept churches which do not accept them as valid Christians. However this is by no means a fixed rule. Some denominations do accept Mormons and JWs as a valid form of Christianity.

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This is the only answer so far I can up-vote because it answers the question, doesn't take sides, and is the most correct of all of them. Mind if I make a slight edit to the phrase about how Mormons cooperating with other churches is extremely rare? –  Matt Dec 30 '13 at 0:58
    
@Matt The very fact that the three instances of Mormon-Mainstream cooperation are considered noteworthy illustrates how rare it is. Other Christian denominations cooperate in many parts of the world on a weekly basis, holding frequent joint meetings and projects. This is not true of Mormons or JWs. I absolutely hold that 'extremely rare' is correct. –  DJClayworth Jan 1 at 20:54
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@Matt Moderator Notice: Reverting edits that the original author has clearly rejected is not acceptable. If you think the answer is wrong, post one that answers the original question correctly. If you think the content of this post is not relevant or otherwise not constructive in this context take your concern to meta. Please do not edit this again without the approval of the OP. –  Caleb Jan 3 at 10:09
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@DJClayworth, your post references ZERO sources. I have presented evidence for making the simple change, you have presented none for keeping your post inaccurate (until shown otherwise). As usual, make sure sources are reliable, official, and objective. –  Matt Jan 3 at 15:25
    
@Matt I've already said I won't argue with you in comments. If you are interested in knowing more, start a chat room. –  DJClayworth Jan 3 at 15:38
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A fundamental issue here is that the term "Christian" admits different meanings. In a broad sense, a Christian is anyone who self-identifies as a follower of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 11:26), which would include all bodies such as Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants, and Restorationists (including JWs and Mormons).

To use "Christian" in a narrower sense where some self-identified Christians are excluded, one needs to choose some criterion of orthodoxy by which to judge among groups. One common standard is the set of ecumenical creeds, which JWs and Mormons reject. Conversely, JWs reject trinitarians as genuine Christians for the opposite reason -- because they adhere to the ecumenical creeds, which JWs consider to be a blasphemous tradition, or because they reject the authority of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. (Similar things could be said about Protestants and Catholics and the authority of the Pope and Tradition, though things have mellowed since Vatican II.)

As a specific example, in a debate from a few years back, evangelical Albert Mohler and Mormon Orson Scott Card went back and forth about whether Mormons are Christians. (The debate is hard to navigate, but it's all there; use the "previous" button at the bottom to get back to the beginning.) Mohler argues, in short, that Mormons don't hold to the ecumenical creeds about the nature of God and Christ, which the wide majority of Christians share, and are therefore not Christians, and Card responds by saying that Mormons are "non-traditional Christians," followers of Christ who reject the tradition embodied in the creeds.

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This has a pretty good core identifying the justification used my mainline Christianity for their labeling practices, but it would be helpful if you classified the first bit too remove the ambiguity about "the problem". This question doesn't pose a problem that needs a solution (most other answers here so far took this route) but a question that needs answering. You do answer but it would be good if you set the stage for answering the exact question so a first read doesn't have people wondering if your conclusion is to disagree with mainstream Christianity's labeling. –  Caleb Jan 3 at 7:39
    
I tweaked it a bit, but I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "classified the first bit." As for my agreement with mainstream Christianity's labeling, I figured it was better if I tried to give a fair account of different perspectives and try to keep my own opinions in check. –  metal Jan 3 at 13:55
    
This answer is essentially the same as mine, but I point out that identifying as a follower of Jesus Christ implies you believe he is the messiah. –  curiousdannii Jan 3 at 23:48
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Etymologically, you're right that Christ means Messiah, and it is correct to say that the believers labeled Christians in Acts were called that for that reason. However, since the Enlightenment in particular, there are many who self-identify as Christians but don't particularly believe in him as God's unique chosen one. Etymologically suspect perhaps, but still Christians in the broadest sense, I think. –  metal Jan 6 at 13:41
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Mainstream Christian groups limit the term 'Christian' to those who believe Jesus is the Christ and agree with them about what that means. The term 'Christian' isn't used for anyone who simply likes Jesus or believes he was special in some way. We can see this because Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet, but Muslims aren't called 'Christian'! Similarly an atheist who thought Jesus was a good teacher wouldn't be called a Christian. Clearly it's more than just thinking highly of Jesus.

At the barest minimum, the term 'Christian' is used for people who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Greek word for the Hebrew concept of the Messiah. The Messiah is a character prophesied about in the Old Testament, though there is much debate in and outside of Christianity as to what exactly it means to be the Messiah. Both mainstream Christian and restorationist groups such as the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses agree this far; they disagree, and limit how the term is used, because of what they believe the Messiah means.

What you call 'mainstream Christianity' is Trinitarian Christianity: they believe that the Messiah is God himself, who came incarnate to the earth. They call the other groups non-Christian because they believe the Jesus they proclaim actually has a very different identity. To Trinitarians saying that Jesus is a created being, is a 'mode' of God, or that he only became divine at his baptism is just as wrong as saying that God doesn't exist and Jesus was nothing more than a human teacher.

Trinitarian Christians believe their views are supported by the historical creeds, such as the Apostles' and Nicene creeds. When those creeds were first constructed there were many who disagreed with them, but by the time the first restorationist groups were founded the creeds were accepted by almost everyone; before the restorationist groups were founded 'Christian' and 'Trinitarian' were effectively synonymous.

Lastly, note that sometimes a group likes to reserve the label 'Christian' only for those who hold very similar beliefs to their own. You will find many protestants who will call the Roman Catholic Church a non-Christian organisation. They refuse to call the other side 'Christian' because they believe they have distorted the gospel or replaced it with a completely different gospel.

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(An extensive set of comments about the wording of this post between myself and the author has been moved to this chat room and continued from there.) –  Caleb Jan 3 at 13:53
    
@curiousdannii could you expound on your statement when you said "Trinitarian Christians find support for their views in the historical creeds" and then said "no church today is directly descended from them" –  Nelson Jan 4 at 4:17
    
@Nelson, I've edited my fourth paragraph, hope that helps –  curiousdannii Jan 8 at 13:57
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I like this answer because it also hits a critical spot in accepting Mormonism as a part of Christianity which is History. If we talk about pure history many creeds accepted or not are still part of accurate history. So not only are there Christian groups labeling LDS as non-Christian, but this is never very popular with the LDS - and might be offensive for a member of the LDS, but mainstream History academics view the Book of Mormon and other early Mormon texts as modern forgeries with absolutely no relationship to history as we know it. –  Tim Dev Feb 21 at 13:10
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From a Catholic perspective it is simple: are you baptized? Then you're a Christian. However, in order to be baptized you need to meet three conditions: it must be proper form (I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit), matter (water and a human being), and intent (you must intend a catholic baptism).

In the case of Jehovah's Witnesses, they have improper form.

In the case of Mormons, they have a fundamentally different understanding of God where the Father is not omnipotent and the Son and Spirit aren't divine. It becomes difficult to argue that they have proper intent. (source)

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How do you define divine (in your last paragraph)? –  Matt Mar 12 at 5:23
    
@Matt They are not God in any sense of the word. They are indistinguishable from the higher orders of angels. –  cwallenpoole Mar 12 at 18:04
    
Well, okay. I guess that works in the traditional Christian and Catholic meanings of those words. For clarification, though, Mormons consider all God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Spirit as divine. –  Matt Mar 12 at 18:09
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I'm new here but for more than 45 yrs I have done extensive research on the Bible and related matters.

I. MAINSTREAM BASIS AGAINST LDS & JWs

Mainstream churches generally [very general usage here] believe that they are Bible based. The major reasons given are:

  1. a. Most Mainstream churches believe in 1 God with 3 co-equal "heads".

    b. LDS believes there are many Gods.

    c. JWs believe that God & Jesus are separate Gods.

  2. a. Most Mainstream churches beleves all believers go to Heaven.

    b. LDS believes believers become Gods & some get their own planets.

    c. JWs think only 144,000 go to Heaven, the rest stay on earth.

  3. a. Most Mainstream churches believes Jesus is the Son of God.

    b. LDS believes Satan is Jesus' brother.

    c. JWs believe Jesus is a created being & is now Archangel Michael.

  4. a. Most Mainstream churches hold that the Bible is from God (although some add the Apocrypha &/or oral traditions).

    b. LDS's main book is the Book of Mormon along with other extra-biblical books.

    c. JWs have their own Bible, the New World Translation in which verses have been altered or stressed to support their own beliefs.

  5. a. Many Mainstream churches hold that Jesus is the only mediator between man and God.

    b. LDS believes that Joseph Smith is a modern day "prophet" who restored the "church" back to its proper place with the truth restored.

    c. JWs have their "Watchtower" Society **Governing Body" providing their scriptural interpretation. They made several wrong prophecies in the 20th century, which they explain away in one way or another.

  6. a. The Catholic church (& some related churches) holds that other books and traditions are just as important or even more important to their worship, such as the Apocrypha or lost books and doctrines (i.e. Popes, Infallibility on the throne, Catechism, Assumption of Mary, Immaculate Conception, Veneration of Saints, Rosary, Creeds, etc.) that are beyond the reach of the 66 legitimate Bible books.

    b. LDS beleifs also include books that go beyond the reach of the genuine 66 Bible books. Many of their beliefs have dependancy on the Book of Mormon, Pearls of Great Price and Documents & Covenants, in which it is claimed that gold plates were found in upstate New York, Jesus came to America, Adam & Eve and the Garden of Eden were in Missouri, etc.

    c. JW's have their own Bible in which at least some verses have been altered to support their beliefs. A good deal of their beliefs are dependant on what is written in their Watchtower magazine.

II. REAL BASIS AGAINST LDS & JWs

Actually, the "basis" for what is non Christian is clearly defined in the Bible. The problem is it takes a lot of work to find and lay out a proper, well-defined basis for determining what is and is not rightly Bible based. While many "mainstream" [general broad use here] have determined that neither Mormons (LDS) nor Jehovah Witnesses (JWs) are Christian, a number of them lack true understanding even of their own misinterpretation(s) of what is real Christian teaching (i.e. Trinity Doctrine error -See below under Comment 2).

I believe that to fully answer the posed question requires one to establish a basic set of facts, the Bible foudation & purpose and common sense rules for reasoning out what should be accepted as the truth. Our approach, coming from our human condition, experience from surrounding environmental events and our actions/reactions (cause & effect), our human imperfections (seen and unseen), etc., may make all the difference for drawing a "right" conclusion or failure thereof (we may have to set aside some preconceived ideas, notions, prejudices and/or assumptions). The following might help point us in the right direction:

Since the Bible is the primary reason and basis for Christianity's existence I believe we ought to turn to the Bible to see what it says:

1. BIBLE PROOF

Most important: Is the Bible true?

(ESV) Prov. 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

(most Christian [broad label usage here] and several other religions have stated (or implied) their claims/beliefs are based on, come from the Bible and/or they are associated with the Bible and/or the Bible can be used along with their beliefs/claims and practices but are they wrong? We need to go to the Bible to determine what is true.)

2. JESUS, THE SON of GOD?

The second most important question is: Is Jesus the Son of God or not? Jesus' statement:

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (see Acts 4:12; Jn 5:39).

Either this statement is true or there is no God (He either knows all or He can't be God). In this statement Jesus is making it quite clear that He is much more than just another great teacher. Since Jesus made this statement I thought it is more important to first find out if what He said is true rather than trying to sift through piles of information, books and statements made about Jesus and the Bible.

3. FALSE TEACHERS & PROPHETS

The Bible mentions false prophets (to be a false prophet you must also be a false teacher).

Acts 13:6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus.

2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Gal 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

4. JUDGMENT

A proper approach for establishing which is which requires one to find right teaching starting from no. 1 above and also by process of elimination to expose wrong Bible teaching as we find them (if we intend not to be mislead - false teaching has great consequences).

John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Many believe the Bible says don't judge at all but when carefully read you will find the Bible message actually warns against making wrong or false judgments. Every time you go to cross a street you must judge where and when to cross. All day long we make many judgments as to what we should do.

5. DO NOT ADD OR OMIT THINGS

I found that many do not carefully read what is actually written in the Bible. For instance, many missed the fact that plants were created before the sun and stars. The reason is explained in other Bible text. For every claim made the whole Bible must be taken into context.

1 Cor 4:6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.

Gal 3:15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.

Deut 4:2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

6. MAN'S WAYS & IDEAS

I also observed that many make the mistake of believing what others claim is true especially if they have a position perceived as having authority to make such claims.

Jer 10:23 I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.;

Prov 14:12 There is a way that SEEMS right to a man, but its end is the way to death.;

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.;

Micah 7:5 Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms;

Matt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

There is a number of other factors, etc. to add to the above but it would take many pages to go into exhaustive detail. I could have spent all my spare time studying all religions to the last detail but filling my head with volumes of useless information, I most likely would never have found out who our God actually is nor who His Son is. There is a verse (I can't remember where it is) that states something like: They gather much knowledge but they'll never find the truth.

Back to the original question: Mormons, JWs and other saw that there was to be a reformation but misunderstood that it was not the New Testament that was at fault (nor the Old Testament either). Mormons, JWs and others did not understand we cannot make up a new "covenant" and that God should honor it. They did not understand that the NT covenant is the final and eternal covenant, superseding all other covenants. Jesus is perfect and so is His new covenant, needing no changes - Both God and Jesus never change. God deliberately set up the old covenant with one major flaw, one that only sending His Son to earth could remedy.

While many "mainstream" churches can readily see the more blatant reasons, "a basis" for why something is wrong with the beliefs of Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, many do not have a full understanding of why they and others have been and are wrong in many of their beliefs. Perhaps this is a subject for another discussion.

If any claimed "Christian" (again broad usage here) is coloring outside the Bible text and its parameters they are acting outside God's and Jesus' definition and instructions for how to be a genuine Christian in Their eyes. The Bible is all about right and wrong. The wise will keep making it their goal to better comply with its instruction while others will keep looking for justification for whatever suits them, what tickles their ear.

-Edits:

(For comments - Thanks Caleb -I hope this is OK. I added answers because I have a lot to say and some sites do not give one a lot of space to write, more being allowed in an answer.)

Being new here, I can't post a comment so I'm posting more answers (in addition to my original answer) with regard to comments (disreqard -adding it to my original answer).

@ Nelson (1st comment):

I'm not new to LDS beliefs (also, I have even been to the Salt Lake City temple). Before you read my comments please take the time to carefully reread my previous list of Bible references.

Actually, most "standard" Bibles (some are better at doing it) have been mostly properly translated (for the most part, most discrepancies are relatively minor to very minor). Once you become somewhat familiar with the Bible you can compare verses from other versions. However, God is smarter than us and knew some would try to twist the meaning and/or the word itself so He protected His word. He used an unchangeable system (in redundancy) that forever binds the OT&NT truth that never changes.

Other than some mutilation of scripture text (which would make it too obvious that something was done to it at least to the wise), as long as properly translated Bible text exists to be compared to, the truth can't be obscured to those genuinely looking for it.

Whether Joseph Smith was well-meaning or not he added things that were never in the Bible (Jesus was never in America nor were Adam & Eve in Missouri). Any new "vision" must line up exactly with what was written in the Old & New Testament. It cannot vary even one degree. Apparently, Smith was unaware of this.

Jer 23:28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord.

The fact that the Book of Mormon exists indicates to those who are wise and have even just a good knowledge of the Bible text that it does not conform to what is written in the Bible, that is it is non-Biblical by its very existence. There is no such thing as a God authorized "another testament" nor will there ever be.

The truth is complete, fully contained within the Bible itself. It is why we are warned and instructed to not go beyond what is already written in the Bible itself. Clearly, Smith proves by his writings, whether he intended to or not, that he went far beyond what he thought he perceived as misinterpretation of the Bible text.

The problem is that the more Smith got off in his own direction and misinterpretation the more he compounded the false claims he started with. Whereas, a true reformation would have come by starting with and staying with what was instructed in the Bible. In other words, misinterpretation was because of human error and by their relaxing their guard and/or becoming lazy instead of staying the course, making sure what they taught and did was securely in line with Biblical teaching.

It was not due to the Bible being wrongly translated or just being misinterpreted, which Smith did not understand. Just because you can confess with your lips that Jesus is our Redeemer it does not mean that your heart is not far away from the truth of who Jesus is nor how to follow Him (truly, from within your heart not by more of an outward or mechanical motion or what you think Jesus wants from you or wants you to do).

Isaiah 29:13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

These verses also apply to Isaiah 29:13:

Matt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

James 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

The point is that lots of people think that Jesus is the Son of God. It does not mean that they really know Him. Rather, they know of Him, that He probably existed or even that He did exist, not much else, especially on the proper personal level.

@ Nelson (2nd comment):

III. TRINITY DOCTRINE

At this point I think its best to put forth the actual God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit's correct relationship as the Trinitarian concept is in fact incorrect as are other concepts concerning this matter. Perhaps we can then more easily see whats wrong with other beliefs. These things are hard to understand. The correct relationship is as follows:

Jesus is the Son of God, Lamb of God and King of kings=He has Deity as His Father has =we are to also worship Him but Jesus isn't His Father: The Trinity Doctrine (TD) is wrong (NOTE [for those told otherwise]: the word Bible doesn't affect interpretation-the TD does). Unfortunately, people CONFUSE TRUTH (this offends many)/HATE.

The TD claims there are 3 CO-EQUAL heads=1 God. However, if the 3 are not equal the TD does not and cannot apply - its null and void. Sadly, people use only a few verses and/or are not careful to read verses in whole Bible context. 1 Cor 4:6 =don't add or omit things from the Bible text:

The TD (as are other concepts) is a roadblock to true Bible interpretation (In part the Catholic church got the TD idea from Pagans. Others [ie. JWs, lds, islam, moonies and others] figured out the TD is in error but they did not know our true God, Son and Holy Spirit relationship)=they didn't know Jesus (as their claims indicate). They never rightly went to nor learned to trust and rightly follow Jesus. Who knows more about a house, the Builder or people whom moved in later?

1. JESUS:

Jesus is God's Son [His Word not God's Body {Christ's Spiritual Body =believers in Him} =John 1:1], equals the pure essence of God [He was and is not an angel as JWs claim -Heb 1:2-6] neitehr when in flesh nor in Heaven. Jesus was not replacing nor was He ever equal to His Father (see John 5:30; Phlp 2:6-7; Col 2:9). Jesus (His Spirit existed with God from before the universe existed) is the closest we get to know infinite God in flesh (only a vessel =God's 1st creation part -something like being God's voice-box -not just some created being as LDS and JWs believe) to deliver eternal truth in person -John 14:7 (stoops to our level so to speak).

Born of human woman (for His earthly mission), Jesus is a separate person-entity (He has His own soul [what makes a person an individual] and given a human body -and Mary ISN'T God's mother) but God gave Jesus authority to be treated as His Father (conceived of God's Holy Spirit =fullness of DEITY [He deserves worship -Matt 14:33; 28:9] -SIR-NAME God =Jesus' birthright, reward as God's Son and to sit at God's right hand). In conception, God and Mary gave part of each to Jesus' life.

To rightly know Jesus starts at John 1:1. W/o a language God couldn't reason, know His thoughts, create a universe, life nor talk to others. So Jn 1:1 names Jesus as God's language. Created in God's image, man has the same limits. Despite how primitive most organisms need language to function and live with others.

Your language (always part of you) can't usurp your authority, act on its own and never tells you what to do. Therefore, Jesus' claims are true (Jn 5:19,30; 8:28) -a student is never greater than his teacher. Your words pass understanding of you to your son. If your son learns all you teach him, he in effect becomes like/is you for all intents and purposes. For obeying you, you can reward him the highest position, your authority.

A father owns a business and teaches his son to run his business. He goes away and puts his son in charge, trusting he'll run it just as he would. If the son obeys and runs the business as the father did, in effect he's his father and can claim to be his father =like father, like son -while exactly like his father he's never equal to him even thoegh he has his father's authority. The same is true for God and His Son, whom fully did God's will not His own so His Father gave Him right to also be worshiped:

Rom 5:19 Adam's sin made many sinners but by Jesus' obedience many are to be righteous.

REF: Jn 12:49; 14:28-29; Lk 6:40; Col 1:15 -Jesus is in God's image by rightly obeying God; Heb 5:7-8; Lk 2:52 -Mk 13:32; 20:23; Phil 2:6; Jn 17; 15:1 =God NEVER BECAME His Son.

2. GOD:

Only one GOD can occupy infinity =God of Israel =no other legit gods exist (HE CAN'T DIE EVER and doesn't fit into an earthly body). God has ULTIMATE AUTHORITY Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not have. Only God knows the day and hour for the end -Mt 24:36 and appoints who sits with Him. God has a soul like us (makes Him an individual -ie. a cell nucleus only Spiritual). All 3 are 1 in Spirit [of God] but Jesus and the Holy Spirit submit fully to God. Being 1 doesn't apply to difference in authority =the TD does not apply.

As long as 1 true full 360 degrees (in all directions) infinity exists (which the Bible proves it exists) two or more full infinities cannot exist nor can two Gods occupy the same infinity. Only a Spirit can occupy true full infinity. Everything having physical properties is measurable. Infinity cannot be measured.

3. the HOLY SPIRIT:

The Holy Spirit is God's "Spiritual body" (God is Spirit -to be 100% pure the Holy Spirit [no form] MUST occupy true infinity (360 deg. in all directions) =no flaws, =always existed -you can move over or make a space within Yourself to create a univeerse separate from yourself and create borders & rules where you want them). The Holy Spirit acts on God's command:

Jn 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

God's body, voice & ears act on God's will -same for our body). The Holy Spirit can be called "He" (generic) as you can be called he(even if your ID is known). The Holy Spirit is more than deliverer of God's power, works and the word through Jesus (Jn 1:1-5; 4:23). Only the eternal truth, forever unchanged keeps God perfect =SEAMLESS Garment.

The point is many religious people started off with wrong beliefs, trusted in misinterpretations told to them along the way. Some started religions, often never double or triple checking what they thought was true or they allowed their desires and agendas or other influences to rule their decisions, some intentionally. Many well-meaning people were taken in along the way. Over many centuries many followed suit. Many zeroed in on few wrong things and made the mistake of not making the Bible an every day guide for correction of things overlooked by those around them. Will we do the same or will we check everything even if we thought some things were right up to now?

Many a religious organization will continue down wrong paths no matter what is told or shown to them. Some stay their course and perhaps patch a few things or even claim they have received new light or revelations but the wise will find the real path to Jesus. The point is the truth is complete within the Bible. Anything extra-Biblical regarding changing God's and Jesus' actual Biblical teaching is wrong by its very existence.

@ Nelson (3rd comment):

Again, because the Trinity Doctrine is wrong, it does not follow nor justify one making a whole new or different non-Biblical concept nor does it make them legitimate. Unfortunately for LDS, there are so many things that they believe and do that have nothing to do with actual Bible concepts, it makes LDS, in its entirety, false and fully beyond actual Biblical teaching.

The only way out of such a mess requires that those who want to follow our real God and Jesus get out of false religion and seek our real Jesus with all their heart and soul. Sadly, many will never do that, deciding not to step out of what has become a security and comfort zone for them (false though it is).

Jesus said, "Do not judge by appearances but judge with right judgment." (Jn 7:24). He did not say not to judge at all. The real Bible message is: Don't judge for wrong reasons nor judge to make yourself look better than another or for the purpose of lording it over others or for the sake of judging. There are those who will not make judgments simply because they do not want to upset the apple cart or buck the "status quo" but the wise want to learn the true purpose for what Jesus taught.

@ Daniel (4th comment):

Because someone's beliefs and claims are in part or in whole wrong does not mean they cannot see "holes" in another's beliefs or claims (and yes sometimes they may have their judgment wrong in whole or in part). It would be better if they would carefully examine their own beliefs to weed out what they got wrong from various sources but many won't. If one is wise, they won't allow themselves to get caught up in wrong teaching as they do not want to be mislead. Sadly, both the LDS and the JWs (and others) got so far away from what the Bible actually says I doubt that either would be willing to dump their entire teaching and start over. The same goes for many mainstream churches. Thanks for looking that verse up for me.

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Thanks for your answer. Our reformation was not for the purpose of correcting the old and new testaments. We clearly believe the Bible to be true as long as it has been translated correctly. Our reformation was for the purpose of correcting the misinterpretations of the Bible. We clearly believe that Jesus is the only saviour and redeemer of the world, the only way back to heaven and part of the eternal Godhead. We do however feel that the doctrine of the Trinity, as interpreted by most of mainstream Christianity, of Jesus being God the father incarnate is not biblical. –  Nelson Jan 27 at 14:36
    
We see the doctrine of the Trinity as man made formulation of the physical relationships between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost and not of divine inspiration. A product of the man made creeds. So our restoration was impart needed to for the correction of these eternal principals which had been changed centuries before. What is the Biblical definition of what makes one a Christian? Someone who accepts Jesus Christ to be their personal lord and Saviour. The redeemer of all mankind and the only way back to the Father who is in heaven? Being Lds, that is what we believe. –  Nelson Jan 27 at 14:54
    
Or... Does the Bible say that in order to be a Christian you have to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. That Jesus is God the Father incarnate. Saying that Mormons are not Christians because they add things to the Bible and basing your reasoning's from a belief that does not come from the Bible is a bit contradicting don't ya think? If someone says that they are a Christian and they believe Jesus Christ to be their personal lord and saviour, we should take them for their word and let God be the judge. –  Nelson Jan 27 at 15:09
    
I may be misunderstanding, but the reason you posit is essentially that mainstream Christian's call these groups non-Christian because they are misinformed about their actual beliefs? Not sure I understand your reasoning. On another note, I believe the reference you couldn't remember is 2 Timothy 3:7 from ESV (since you like it): "always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth." –  Daniel Cook Jan 27 at 16:51
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Your extensive edits, while interesting, seem to contribute little to answering the question. As an aside, if a new "vision" has to match what is already written exactly, there seems little point to anyone having one. Mormonism makes no claim at being a reformation, but a restoration. By it's very nature you should expect to find teachings that are not strictly found in the Bible, or else what is the restoration for? Also note that you can add comments on your own questions and answers. –  Daniel Cook Jan 30 at 14:52
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