Comparison between Mormonism and Christianity
ladomerco Christianity is about having a lived-out relationship with Jesus Christ, who is God, and believing things that fundamentally affect that relationship, particularly things concerning the nature of God, the design of creation, the purpose of life, what makes sin so bad, the purpose and means of salvation (in the person and work of Christ), and the appeal of the afterlife. While Mormonism shares many customs, terms, conservative values, and even significant beliefs with Christianity, it not only differs with traditional, Biblical Christianity over fundamental worldview assumptions, but even denies that they have significance in one's lived-out relationship with Christ.
 Types of differences and common ground
When comparing two worldviews it is important to consider the various types of commonalities and differences. For the purposes of this article, let us consider three categories: surface-level, mid-level, and fundamental.
While surface-level considerations, such as language and customs, are important and most often meaningful, they are the least important when considering similarities and differences. Two religions may use strikingly similar customs and language, but for entirely different reasons, and with radically different, underlying values.
Mid-level components of one's worldview are that which can be expressed, defined, and reflected by differing language and customs, but which are themselves driven by more fundamental worldview assumptions. Some examples include basic, conservative, moral values, the belief that a person named Jesus Christ physically died and rose again, and the general belief that humans have over them some sort of Creator and caretaker.
A relationship with God is built on fundamental worldview assumptions that serve as a driving force for the way we live, act, and feel, and a lens for how we see and explain life. These essentially include the nature of God, the purpose of life, the nature of sin, the design of salvation, and the appeal of the afterlife.
 Summary list of differences
|Nature of God||God was once a man, and became a God. Every single attribute is fully sharable with other beings. God is to be worshiped because we happen to be his progeny, not at all because he is the only Sovereign and divine being in reality.||God was eternally, fully God. The Father, Son, and Spirit were always in full relationship. God's attributes can only be shared in measure, and he is to be worshiped for possessing what uniquely belongs to God.|
|Glory of God||The glory of God is mainly outside of himself, in his progeny.||The glory of God is entirely within himself, and is intrinsic. Anything glorious outside of himself merely reflects the glory that God eternally had.|
|Purpose of life||To be tested of our obedience to God without his presence and to gain a physical body. Ultimately passing this "test" leads to personal exaltation.||To glorify, worship, and enjoy God forever.|
|Sin||Sin is chiefly wrong because it hurts people, causes bad feelings, and impedes progression unto godhood, not chiefly because it offends God.||Sin is chiefly horrific because it dishonors God. It is high treason against the Holy of holies.|
|Design of salvation||To give people an opportunity to learn and prove their worthiness, so that they progress and become gods themselves.||To make much of God's glory in giving grace. Salvation is therefore designed so that humans get none of the credit for it, and God gets all of it.|
|Appeal of the afterlife||To be with one's family (which God is a part of) and become a god.||The worship and enjoyment of God, as well as the enjoyment of other creatures who enjoy God, and the enjoyment of other creation which itself reflects and points one back to the glory of God.|
 Considering Mormonism and Christianity each as integrated worldviews
Rather than merely focusing on individual components of the Mormon and Christian worldviews, it is illuminating when one considers the various components as interrelated and connected.
In Mormonism, God is essentially other-oriented, not self-centered, and increases himself in glory by adding progeny who, like him, become a god and help others become gods. The purpose of life in Mormonism is to get a physical body and prove our worthiness by going through a period of probation. God wants us to succeed in doing this, and helps us in the plan of salvation in such a way that provides us an opportunity to prove our worthiness. The main allure of the afterlife is being with one's family, attaining the full status of God, and then continuing the eternal progression of godhood by increasing the size and welfare of one's own spiritual family.
In Biblical, historical Christianity, God ultimately does everything for his own glory. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct but not separate persons, have always been in full, divine relationship, and share the same being and essence and divine attributes. This One God-being has attributes that alone belong to Him, that make Him worthy of our worship and enjoyment and awe and reverence and pleasure. To enjoy God, we share these attributes in small, finite measure. God is omniscient, and we have knowledge. God is omnipotent, and we have power. God is infinitely relational between the Father, Son, and Spirit, and we, in part, are relational with humans, and have the capacity for a meaningful relationship with God.
God's most fundamental passion is to glorify and enjoy himself. God loves humans the best possible way: He frees them up in salvation to enjoy what is most enjoyable, delight in what is most delightful, and take pleasure in that which is most pleasurable: the One, personal God-being Himself. The purpose of life is an extension of this, and therefore is to worship and enjoy this God to the glory of God. The design of salvation is yet another extension of the above, and is therefore designed to give God the credit for everything in it. God designed salvation for unworthy sinners so that people would see and love the worthiness of Christ, freely received to their credit as a gift. The allure of the afterlife is the ever-increasing enjoyment and worship of God. Christians will never cease progressing in the knowledge, wisdom, and love of God, as well as the enjoyment of others who enjoy God.
 Fundamentally incompatible as systems
The Mormon idea that salvation is designed to give a person an opportunity to prove their worthiness is foreign and incompatible with Christianity. Not only does it contradict the Bible on salvation, but also doesn't make sense within the larger Christian worldview. The Christian idea that all of salvation is designed to be completely free so that we get none of the credit, and Christ gets all of it, not only contradicts Mormon scripture, but also doesn't fit into the larger Mormon worldview. When explaining to Mormons that the only holiness that God requires is that which comes from a heart already fully forgiven by God, one will often hear the question, "Then what is the purpose of life?" This is, of course, because the purpose of life and the design of salvation are connected.
- "So often stories that mention the debate over whether Mormons are Christian seem to view the topic in the most non-religious terms possible. They view the issue as one of self-determination (people and groups should be able to identify themselves using their own understanding) or think of the descriptor âChristianâ as a kind word that polite people should use with each other. I love that Fletcher Stack identifies the debate as a doctrinal one. Thatâs a good step." - GetReligion.org
- "When Mormons characterize themselves as Christian, one relatively anodyne goal is to claim equal status in society. Another, more aggressive goal is to seize religious high ground: if Mormonism is Christianity, then Christianity has nothing to offer that Mormonism does not also offer. Yet Mormonism manifestly offers more and different beliefs, practices, and scriptures than do its competitors. Hence, by defining itself as Christian, Mormonism becomes âChristianity plus,â while relegating other churches to a lesser status. This power play is reflected in Gordon B. Hinckleyâs often-cited invitation for Christian believers to come to the Mormons, bring their Christian faith and knowledge, and discover what we can add to it." - J. Nelson-Seawright
- ↑ A news release on LDS.org states, albeit euphemistically, the importance of viewing the Mormon view of the "plan of salvation" in the larger context of the larger Mormon worldview: "For Latter-day Saints, the mortal existence is seen in the context of a great sweep of history, from a pre-earth life where the spirits of all mankind lived with Heavenly Father to a future life in His presence where continued growth, learning and improving will take place."
- ↑ http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2322
- ↑ http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/11/the-problem-of-mormon-christianity/
- Differences Between Mormonism and Christianity, by Rob Sivulka
- Is Mormonism Christian? (Institute for Religious Research) - "A Comparison of Mormonism and Historic Christianity"
- Is Mormonism Christian?, by Richard John Neuhaus - "A Respected Advocate for Interreligious Cooperation Responds"
- 8 Characteristics of a Counterfeit Christian Church, by Eric Johnson
- Mormon Prophet Admits He Believes in Another Christ â Not the Traditional Jesus, by James K. Walker
- Are Mormons Christians? - The Two Perspectives, by Christopher C. Warren
- Awakening to the Light of Scripture (Apprising Ministries)
- Are Mormons Christians? (LightPlanet.com)
- Are Mormons Christians? (AboutMormonism.com)
- Once again: Are Mormons Christians?, by Kathleen Petty - "We emphasize the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smithâs prophetic role. The Book of Mormon is controversial because of its origin, not because of its content. Joseph Smithâs really radical ideas about man and God, the nature of man and God, and manâs destiny, came at the end of his life. Itâs these ideas that other Christians donât like; itâs these ideas that we tend to soft pedal. But itâs these ideas I believe we ought to embrace the tightest. I fear that in the name of trying to present a less controversial image, we might trade our birthright for a mess of pottage."