In “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis introduces the importance of defining what it means to be Christian. He begins this discussion by giving a brief history of the word “gentlemen”. Once upon a time, “gentleman” meant someone who had a coat of arms and some landed property. Now, though, the term is used more as a compliment. As a result, it has become quite useless if anyone tries to use it in its original sense. As Lewis says, “it has been spoiled for that purpose.”
Lewis concludes that it’s important to define who is a Christian so that the term does not become useless. If we do not, the term, like the word “gentlemen,” will simply be used as a compliment. Lewis suggests:
“We must therefore stick to the original, obvious meaning. The name Christians was first given at Antioch (Acts xi. 26) to ‘the disciples’, to those who accepted the teaching of the apostles.”
Latter-day Saints and Jesus Christ
Joseph Smith said,
“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”
Arguably, Latter-day Saints accept the teachings of the original apostles to the same degree, if not more so, than the rest of Christianity. True, we have additional sources of faith, but those with children would agree that the addition of a son or daughter does not detract from the love felt for other children. Likewise, our other scriptures that compliment the Old and New Testaments do not detract from our faith in Christ or love for the Bible. Quite the contrary – they enhance and strengthen that faith and love.
In General Conference just this month, Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke about the importance of the name of our Church. He was not the first to do so, either. In his comments he cites multiple occasions when the Church emphasized our belief in Jesus Christ, which I encourage you to investigate. He also said,
“The name the Savior has given to His Church tells us exactly who we are and what we believe. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. He atoned for all who would repent of their sins, and He broke the bands of death and provided the resurrection from the dead. We follow Jesus Christ. And as King Benjamin said to his people, so I reaffirm to all of us today: “Ye should remember to retain [His] name written always in your hearts” (Mosiah 5:12).”
Google tells me that a Christian is “a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings.” I can tell you what we believe – that my Church really does believe in Jesus Christ and his teachings – but some of you may want to investigate further on your own. I can make that easier, and give you a starting point or two:
- The Living Christ
- Jesus Christ at mormon.org
- Preach My Gospel Chapter 6, Lesson 2, and Lesson 3
- The Book of Mormon Title Page and Introduction
- These scripture passages from just the first three books of The Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi 4:4-6; 2 Nephi 25:23-29; 2 Nephi 33:10-15; and Jacob 1:4-7. Also look at the Index entry for Jesus Christ, which includes passages from the entire text of The Book of Mormon.
That’s a fair start. If you can make it through those resources, and then use them as a springboard to find others, you will have a solid understanding of what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes about the Savior, who’s name we bear, and you will certainly agree that, using these common definitions, Mormons are Christian.
Continuing the Series
- Part 2 – How Mormons are Christian
- Part 3 – How Mormons are not Christian
- Part 4 – How the LDS Church is a cult
- Part 5 – How the LDS Church is not a cult