Many of us in the Western world would say that we know the difference between the Mormon and Christian Faiths.
Maybe go so far as to say that they are completely different religions. But are they?
The rise of TV shows, documentaries, and films depicting the lives of Mormon followers, leave us with very little cultural and religious understanding and sometimes depict a very narrow view of this age-old religion.
Let’s take a look at the key similarities and differences between the two faiths to try to understand a little more about these widely practiced religions.
Are they the same thing?
Depending on who you speak to, whether a Mormon or a Christian, you may get a different answer as to the origins of each practice.
Latter-day Saints or Mormons would say that they are very much Christians, whereas a Christian or Theologist would regard Mormonism as a deviation from Christianity or even go so far as to say that it is a distortion of it entirely.
Since its inception in the early 1800s, Mormonism has held very different views of Christianity and has tried to correct what they believe is wrong with it.
Although the founding principles of each faith have their similarities and much to share, these discrepancies and disagreements have regretfully led to violence and bloodshed.
Still today, the two faiths have long-held grudges and unresolved disagreements.
What is Mormonism?
Mormonism is a term used to describe the practices and belief system of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The faith is based on the doctrines bought by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the 1820s.
Central to Mormon theology is the Saviour Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and the Son of God, the Heavenly Father.
Jesus’ atonement allows for the whole of mankind to be released of their sins and return to Heaven to live with God in eternity.
Mormons study the Bible throughout their lives to learn, understand and spread the word of God. The Bible is further understood through The Book of Mormon, another Holy Scripture that deepens and expands on the Bible’s teachings.
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What is Christianity?
Christianity is a religion that began in the 1st century in the province of Judea.
Based in Judaism, it focuses on the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, a Jew.
Christians believe that Jesus was God himself, come to earth to live in His world as a Human.
Jesus is God the Son who came to earth to rescue sinners from eternal life in hell. Christians follow the Bible as the word of God and live by these teachings.
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How different are Christianity and Mormonism?
With the above descriptions in mind, you would think that both Mormonism and Christianity are very similar.
But there are, in-fact, glaring differences that many would argue make them entirely different.
Yes, both religions are based on the life and word of Jesus Christ, and the Bible is their Holy Text, but that really is as far as it goes when comparing these two faiths.
So how do they differ from each other?
Christianity is only concerned with the Bible alone, whereas Mormonism takes many different texts into its heart.
The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.
The Doctrine is a compilation of revelations given to The Church of Latter-Day Saints by Joseph Smith and The Pearl of Great price, which describes the founding of Mormonism and its belief systems.
Mormons explain that these texts are an expansion of the Bible and allow them to understand it in greater depth and bring them closer to God, whereas Christians would argue that this extra work is blasphemous as worship is being directed toward the word of Joseph Smith and not that of Jesus Christ.
The Pre and After Life
Another area that the two religions diverge from is that of the afterlife and, in the case of Mormonism, the pre-life.
In Mormon belief, before life, there was a pre-life, where existence was in a spirit form. These spirits sat alongside God in all his glory as His sons and Daughters. To learn and grow, these spirits lived as mortals on earth to learn the words of God and study to become closer to God. In this life, family is eternal, and all families that practice Mormonism then have eternal lives together in Heaven with God. A husband and wife become eternally married.
Christianity believes in Heaven and Hell. In that, however, a person lives their life here on earth, determines their place in the eternal afterlife. By practicing Christianity and abiding by the word of God, a place will be granted in Heaven alongside the creator.
The two belief systems still disagree on this contentious point. Christians argue that it is blasphemous to paint oneself in the image of God, thinking that Mormons are likening themselves to Gods, and in their view, this is highly offensive.
The Mormon belief, however, is not that they think they are gods, but they are the sons and daughters of gods, therefore are heirs to the kingdom of God.
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The origin of God and Jesus
In Mormon belief, God is a person made of skin and bones and is able to procreate. That Jesus is the first-born son of God and was a prophet to humanity. Jesus became a God in his own right, as he rose to the pinnacle of intelligence. Likening Jesus to the Prophet James Smith, who are just like you and I, but have been divinely authorized to spread the word of God.
This is difficult for Christians, as Christ is equal and eternal with The Father and The Holy Trinity. One is not more important or separate from the other. By comparing Jesus and James Smith as similar in origin, diminishes the Christian held belief that Jesus is God Himself.
Without investigation, these two widely practiced religions would seem closely related. However, due to the differing beliefs of very central themes within them, in debate, one religion can easily offend the other with how they perceive many core philosophies.
It is clear that Mormonism has taken a rather different view of the meaning and teachings of the Bible, whereas Christianity has stuck to its long-held beliefs.
Although at the heart of each religion is Jesus Christ Himself, it seems that the interpretation of his life and words are in complete divergence with the other.
Images credit – @Getty
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