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I have a question, following on from the previous question in which is quoted :

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth.

Doctrines of the Gospel, Student Manual, Chapter 16 **

Throughout Evangelical Christendom, although many differ in doctrine, such as Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Strict Baptist, Reformed, Congregationalist, Free Presbyterian, Free Church, Church of Scotland, Church of England, Independent FIEC, Exclusive Brethren and Open Brethren (and any others of whom I may not be cognisant) I am not aware that any of these would state that they considered themselves to be . . . .

the only true and living church on the face of the earth.

Despite differences in doctrine, there is willingness to accept others as believers, as Christians, as members of the Body of Christ ; and there is willingness to receive others, both individually and corporately (although with a degree of grief at the unhappy state of division) in fellowship.

But if one truly assumes that one belongs to a body which, in and of itself, is . . .

the only true and living church on the face of the earth . . . .

then does that mean that those, who hold themselves to be so, reject any others who identify themselves as 'Christian' ?

Do LDS persons, therefore, disallow all who are not within their own denominated congregation to identify themselves as 'Christian' ?


** Please Note : these particular links are not working very well and may not function as expected.

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    @alephzero That misses the point. I am asking about people who already profess conversion and identify as 'Christian', that is to say 'redeemed', 'justified', 'saved' and 'born again' : members of Christ, under his Headship. Are these received ?
    – Nigel J
    Jul 16 at 2:48
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    @Peilonrayz I was not asking how LDS people see themselves. My question was quite specific : Do LDS persons disallow (certain persons) to self-identify as 'Christian' ? The problem appears to be that LDS have a different meaning for the word 'Christian' compared to most of evangelical Christendom. Anne's answer best illustrates this and has now been accpted.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 16 at 22:46
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    @Peilonrayz There was no intention on my part to be aggressive. I am not an LDS person and think differently about your religion, which is clearly upsetting to you, but aggression was never intended nor expressed. An objective view which states something subjective believers might not want to be aired in public is not, in itself, aggressive, but a subjective stance might see it that way. You can ask your own Qs or give your own As but be prepared to accept the fact that not everybody on this site will agree with you. All are free to comment.
    – Anne
    Jul 17 at 8:05
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    @JBH Jesus of Nazareth exhorted to 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His Righteousness', rather than take any thought about what one is going to eat or wear tomorrow. There is one kingdom. There is one King. Either I am his subject : or I am refused entry at all.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 29 at 6:56
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    @JBH I agree. That would, logically, be my next question ; were I to choose to pursue the matter further.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 29 at 14:38
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When most Christians say they "accept another denomination as Christian" it means that they recognize them as genuine followers of Jesus, saved and redeemed, part of the true Body of Christ. It's a statement that the other denomination is equal to them before Christ. They may still believe that their denomination has "more" truth, but the differences are recognized to be minor, or at least acceptable.

The Latter Day Saints treat this differently. They see 2 levels:

  1. Latter Day Saints, the true church of Christ, the only one with the authority and necessary teaching to be true followers of Jesus and to be 'saved'.
  2. "Christians", which includes those inside and outside the LDS church. Except LDS they have no priesthood authority1, have incorrect and insufficient teaching, but are doing their best to be followers of Jesus under the circumstances.2

So when Latter Day Saints say they "accept someone as Christian" it means they fit firmly into that second category - believers who don't have the authority or truth that the LDS have.

This explains why LDS can call someone "Christian" but also feel the need to evangelize them, and if possible convert them to the "full" "correct" Latter Day Saints belief.

This two level belief explains the contradiction between the LDS being

the only true and living church on the face of the earth . . . .

while still calling other believers "Christian".

So while Latter Day Saints can say "we accept others as Christian", by their own definition of Christian, they do not accept other denominations as equals of them in the way that most Christians mean it.


Sources: Joseph F. Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [TPJSI, Salt Lake City: Desert Book, 1976, p. 372 (cf. D&C 20:38-58, 107:13.14.20) How does the view of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints about Jesus Christ differ from Protestant Trinitarian Christology?
as per answer given by SLM

1 Priesthood and Articles of Faith, James E Talmage

2 Joseph Smith First Vision Account and God Love's Mankind (starting at 15 February 1978)

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    (Up-voted +1.) So, in the same way as I might say someone is 'religious' but I may not be able to call them a 'Christian' (due to their conduct or their beliefs) an LDS person may refer to myself as 'Christian' but not really accept that I could possibly be redeemed, justified, saved and born again . . . right ? I need to join with them in their organisation, otherwise I will be lost.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 15 at 16:51
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    That is my understanding. I'm not sure where their limits on the specifics of "redeemed, justified, saved and born again" are. Jul 15 at 16:52
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    @depperm I changed point 2 slightly to reflect that. Where am I getting the definition? From you. Jul 15 at 17:54
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    But do people outside the LDS have the ability/authority to teach/preach the gospel? If not then non-LDS are definitely "second-class Christians". Jul 15 at 18:09
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    Any evidence of this is applicable to LDS in general? It seems like it could be said of nearly any denomination.
    – Peter Turner
    Jul 15 at 18:34
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The LDS have a slightly differing definition of Christian:

Though the label “Christian” is often associated with particular creedal claims which the Church does not adopt, Latter-day Saints use it to express their belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Confusion sometimes arises over whether Latter-day Saints are Christians due to doctrinal differences from those beliefs that have typically defined many other Christian churches. For example, Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father loves, weeps and rejoices with a sympathetic heart (Moses 7:28-33). They believe that the Trinity (God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Ghost) are three distinct personages (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22). Latter-day Saints also believe that Christ established a church during His mortal ministry, but over time its line of priestly authority, as well as certain important teachings, were lost. For this reason, they believe God called a prophet, Joseph Smith, to reestablish Christ’s church of ancient times — hence the name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or, followers in these present times). This included reinstating living “apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). Their belief in an open canon and additional scripture — the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price — also set them apart from other Christians.1

The LDS believe any who follows Jesus Christ are Christian.2


While members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have no desire to compromise the distinctiveness of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, they wish to work together with other Christians—and people of all faiths—to recognize and remedy many of the moral and family issues faced by society. The Christian conversation is richer for what the Latter-day Saints bring to the table. There is no good reason for Christian faiths to ostracize each other when there has never been more urgent need for unity in proclaiming the divinity and teachings of Jesus Christ.1

1 Are Latter-day Saints Christian? and Are Mormons Christian?

2 Are Mormons Christian? (different article)

See also Roman Catholicism-LDS article, references other denominations as being Christian

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    The LDS idea of belief in the divinity of Christ does not square with that of orthodox (mainstream) Christianity, which is the real issue at back of the problem. It may be 'politically correct' these days to couch differences of belief in language that is not clear to those uninformed about such matters, so giving the impression that the LDS are very 'inclusive' and 'tolerant' of virtually all others who self-identify as Christians. Such matters need to be brought openly out into the light instead of objections made to those who try to do that.
    – Anne
    Jul 18 at 12:25
  • @Anne There is no good reason for Christian faiths to ostracize each other when there has never been more urgent need for unity in proclaiming the divinity and teachings of Jesus Christ. The LDS interpretation of the word Christian seems more inclusive than what 'mainstream' may use the term as. Considering that the LDS doesn't denounce Christian denominations should show that they accept them
    – depperm
    Jul 18 at 16:46
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    My point is that the LDS doctrine of the deity of Christ is totally at odds with Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant doctrine and that is why there can be no meeting of minds until the LDS admit that a created Jesus Christ is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible. If that admission happens (as with the Worldwide Church of God circa 1995, accepting the orthodox Trinity doctrine) then progress might start. Or if Joseph Smith's testimony, that the angel told him all the churches of Christendom were corrupt, is denounced... which is at odds with your last sentence.
    – Anne
    Jul 19 at 8:10
  • I wouldn't say totally at odds (there are points we can agree on). And saying there can be no meeting of minds doesn't seem very friendly (IMO leaders Vatican/pope, NAE board members, or others church leaders would not 100% agree with this statement). The last sentence isn't at odds if you actually understand LDS perspective. Even if what you say is true, posting LDS beliefs that aren't actual beliefs isn't bringing anything into the light, but just introducing more obscurity and misinformation
    – depperm
    Jul 19 at 11:17
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    @Anne has correctly identified a problem among the general membership who have a personally introverted and exclusionary attitude toward other churches, but the Church itself does not teach exclusion to the degree she's intimating. Someone not LDS cannot receive the Celestial glory, but they can any other (D&C 76:71-80). And we certainly do believe in a different Jesus than most others, if only for our rejection of the Trinity, which we've openly taught the public since the beginning. But we very much believe Luke 9:50, those who are not against us are for us. Jul 29 at 14:58
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the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth1

Says something about organizations, and does not discount anyone as "not Christian". A Christian is someone who follows Jesus Christ.

only: there is no other organization in which the authority, and the revelation, is found. This is not a judgement of individual people, or even organizations, that is just what God told Joseph Smith in the First Vision, long before any call to restore the church.

true: one one hand, true doctrine, but more importantly, truly the literal church of Jesus Christ, with his authority to baptize etc. This does not mean that everything that is true is already known.

living: still led through continuous revelation. This is important because even if the doctrine was true, but no further communication from God was received, the true doctrine doesn't really help because what you really need is to know what God wants right now. Also, eventually errors are bound to creep in if there is no constant guidance.

If you take the church today, and copy-paste it, then you would of course have a hard time to discern the two at first on a doctrinal level, but one would still be the only true and living church and the other one would just be one of the other ones that aren't.

1 D&C 1:30

See also The Only True and Living Church or The Only True and Living Church (they are different articles by different LDS leaders)

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    Seems like this is an accurate answer, but it would benefit from citations otherwise it's hard to determine its veracity
    – Peter Turner
    Jul 15 at 18:33
  • "This is not a judgement of individual people, or even organizations" It kinda is. Mormons are saying that they are better than everyone else at discerning truth. Jul 15 at 18:49
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    @Accumulation And what does discerning truth has to do with being a christian?
    – kutschkem
    Jul 15 at 19:32
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The sense in which LDS believers “accept” others who self-identify as Christian needs to be examined. To do that, one needs to be clear about the LDS doctrine of the ‘levels’ of the Kingdom of God, and the reason why they say Jesus died. Once that is understood, it can be seen why LDS answers have said what they have by way of answering this question (which is a really important question because it draws in far more religious groups than just the LDS religion.)

The LDS religion maintains that there are 2 ‘levels’ of the Kingdom of God. In a Mormon booklet called “Your Pre-Earth Life”, it gives a clue on page 10;

“Resurrection comes as a gift to every man through Jesus Christ, but the reward of the HIGHEST eternal opportunities you must earn. It is not enough just to believe in Jesus Christ.”

Note that for there to be highest eternal opportunities, there must be lower ones. Now, here is what another Mormon booklet says, “The Purpose of Life”, p3:

“And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the SAME kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever.” – Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:25-26

So this indicates at least two Kingdoms, or levels of the Kingdom. The Celestial Kingdom is the highest level:

“By fullness of the gospel is meant all the ordinances and principles that pertain to the exaltation in the CELESTIAL Kingdom” (Doctrine & Covenants 27:5, section 76 & 135:3)

Those who go through the Mormon Temple Ceremony and are obedient to the end so that their personal works of obedience are sufficient to cover their personal sins, will enter the Celestial Kingdom – the highest degree of glory – and become gods and goddesses. That’s in Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2 pp 44-46.

The lowest level (what some might call hell) was spoken of by Brigham Young in “Journal of Discourses” Vol 8 p 222. He maintained that there would not be any women in hell (God having reserved them all for Mormon men to have as wives in the kingdom). Hell is mentioned in the B of M quite a lot, e.g. 1 Nephi 14:3, 2 Nephi 9:16, 28, 15: 21-23, Mosiah 3:25, Alma 34:35, Helaman 6:28, 13:25-26.

From the link below is an article on progression and exaltation, part of which says:

“From the scriptures we learn that there are three kingdoms of glory in heaven. The Apostle Paul mentioned that he knew a man who was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). Paul named two of the kingdoms in heaven: the celestial and the terrestrial (see 1 Corinthians 15:40–42). The celestial is the highest, and the terrestrial is second. Through latter-day revelation we learn that the third kingdom is the telestial kingdom (see D&C 76:81). We also learn that there are three heavens or degrees within the celestial kingdom (see D&C 131:1).” https://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-47-exaltation?lang=eng

The second point that is vital to understand about LDS doctrine is what Jesus accomplished by his death and resurrection, bearing in mind that they say Jesus was created as a spirit creature by the god Elohim and his spirit ‘wife,’ as the firstborn of huge numbers of other spirit children they gave birth to in another universe. This means that whatever deity they ascribe to Jesus, it is not the deity of the Trinity doctrine, which maintains that he is the uncreated, eternal Son of God, having the same being as the one and only God. Their Jesus is a creature who worked his way up to deity; one of myriad other deities.

Latter Day Saints believe that Jesus secured the resurrection from the dead of everybody [see 1st quote, above], so that they could then be judged as to their eternal destiny: either in the celestial kingdom (the highest level), the terrestrial kingdom (the middle level), or the telestial kingdom. This means that LDS believers are not “worried” about those who claim to be Christians, but who fall short of what their religion states is required to be admitted into the highest level, the celestial kingdom (requiring Joseph Smith’s permission, by the way). Those who are not temple-sealed, married, tithe-paying Latter Day Saints will still get into the next level of the kingdom, so they are not unduly concerned about them. Nor does any of their literature express much concern about downright unbelievers, as far as I have been able to ascertain. They will end up in the telestial kingdom. They can call themselves whatever they will, they can live however they like, they will all be sorted, and it is the goal of all good LDS believers to work their way up into the celestial kingdom. They don’t even think about “accepting” others who self-identify as ‘Christian’. Accepting them is not part of their theology, so it would appear. They expect people who study their religion and doctrines to come to the conclusion that they must be baptised into the LDS religion, because their idea of the Holy Spirit will give them “a burning in the bosom” to convict them.

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Jesus Christ Himself doesn't agree with your premise

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)

The Lord taught that some people who self-identify as Christian will be excluded from His kingdom. But He also taught something else that the LDS Church completely believes in:

And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. (Luke 9:49-50)

Those two verses seem to identify a paradox. On the one hand, people who self-identify as Christian are excluded. On the other hand, people who self-identify as Christian are included.

What the LDS Church believes is that Jesus' Kingdom is divided into various glories.1 The highest glory is reserved for those who embrace the testimony of Christ fully and who receive covenants and ordinances via the full authority of Christ (D&C 76:50-70).

Others receive a lesser glory, depending on their choices and commitment to the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 76:71-89).2

So, where does the LDS Church draw the official line? Let's look at Alma 5:60:

And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.

So the line is drawn at people who would destroy the Church. Whether they self-identify as Christian or not. This sets the limit for exclusivity — but what about inclusivity? Let's look at D&C 46:3-5:

Nevertheless ye are commanded never to cast any one out from your public meetings, which are held before the world. Ye are also commanded not to cast any one who belongeth to the church out of your sacrament meetings; nevertheless, if any have trespassed, let him not partake until he makes reconciliation. And again I say unto you, ye shall not cast any out of your sacrament meetings who are earnestly seeking the kingdom—I speak this concerning those who are not of the church.

We are commanded of the Lord to not exclude anyone from our public meetings. This reflects Luke 9:50.

But what did you actually mean?

Unfortunately, your question is unclear. What do you mean by "reject" and "disallow?" There's a difference between how individual members of the Church act and what the Church teaches, depending on what you actually mean by those words.

It is an unfortunate and painful truth that individual members can and do act with introversion and exclusion. This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, but like the ancient Jews of old, being told that:

  • Yours is the "only true church of Jesus Christ."
  • You are the "elect of God."
  • You are the "chosen people."

can go to your head. It is a sign of apostasy to exclude others when the goal is to embrace them in love and offer them (whether they choose to accept it or not) every blessing the Lord has to offer. It is a constant struggle to help members avoid this particular sin.

But if what you meant by your question was something along the lines of what @DJClayworth mentioned, that "accept" and "allow" means to consider the authority, gospel, and opportunities offered by another church as equal to our own. The answer is no. We believe that no other church offers the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the fullness of the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, and therefore has not the authority to open the door to Christ's exaltation.

We accept all who are not against us as Christians, but we recognize (as the Lord taught) that not all will embrace the highest glory He has offered in His kingdom. And that includes our own membership.


1Detailed explanations of the Degrees of Glory have been given elsewhere on this Stack. Rather than clutter this question with yet another detailed explanation, I'll summarize and otherwise defer to them.

2I'm not summarizing Outer Darkness or Perdition here. It's a kingdom without glory, though still within the judgement and therefore kingdom of Christ. But it's not relevant to the discussion concerning those who self-identify as Christian unless they also happen to be someone entirely against Christ in all forms and in all ways. Bit of an oxymoron, there, but I guess it could occur.

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    This answer is useful in that it fully confirms what was already stated in the answer which I previously accepted on July 16th.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 29 at 16:35
  • @NigelJ As much as Anne's answer is useful to an LDS outsider like me, I don't think Anne's answer is the same as JBH's answer since LDS teaches that not all who call themselves "Christian" are saved. Anne's answer seems to express universalism, but LDS seems to teach that those who are against Jesus cannot call themselves "Christian". JBH's answer is also more complete since it covers the attribute "Christian" at denominational level. +1 Sep 1 at 20:43
  • Question: Can a Catholic who dies and enters the Spirit World receives any opportunity to go to the Celestial Kingdom? If so, what's the requirement? Sep 1 at 20:51
  • @GratefulDisciple I have considered your comment and decided not to alter my previous decision. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 1 at 21:13
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    @JoinJBHonCodidact Very clear, and strikingly similar to the Catholic understanding of vincible vs. invincible ignorance and also Catholic understanding of culpable vs. non-culpable heresy / apostasy. Sep 2 at 3:31

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