Are Mormons Christians, Explained

Introduction to Are Mormons Christians

Are Mormons Christians? Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, consider themselves to be Christian. They believe that Jesus Christ lived, preached, performed miracles, and organized His Church in ancient Palestine. He voluntarily gave His life as a ransom for all humankind. After he was crucified and buried, He rose on the third day–a resurrected being. However, many other Christians do not define members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Christians. Their arguments against calling members of the Mormon Church Christians are historical and theological in nature. Their reasons include that first, Mormons do not believe in the authority or doctrine of councils and creeds. Second, the Mormon Church does not descend from the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant churches. Additionally, many Protestants also add to these reasons the fact that Mormons have more scriptures than the Bible. Some Protestants even consider Mormonism a cult. So why are Mormons not Christians? Essentially, if belief in Jesus Christ’s divinity and mission as Savior of the world is the definition of a Christian, Mormons are Christians. If the definition of Christianity requires a belief in the authority of the first seven ecumenical councils, or the doctrine of the Trinity (as defined by those councils), or various other theological arguments, then Mormons are not Christians.

Critics View &
Factual Responses

Are Mormons Christians?

Yes, Mormons are Christians. Indeed, Mormons do not accept the authority of the first seven councils of Christianity. Specifically, Mormons do not believe that all of the doctrines contained in the first seven ecumenical councils are true...
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Is Mormonism a Cult?

Mormonism is often defined as a cult by some Protestants. Walter R. Martin, a defrocked minister wrote a book called The Kingdom of the Cults in 1965. In this book, Martin listed various religions as cults including...
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Do Mormons believe in the Trinity?

Mormons believe in God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as well as the Holy Spirit...
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Do Mormons believe in the Bible?

Protestants believe in something called sola scriptura, which means that the Bible...
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What do Mormons believe about Jesus Christ?

Mormons regard Jesus as their literal Savior. Jesus’ life, death....
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What is the name of the Mormon Church?

Mormons or the Mormon church began as a nickname and epithet against those who belonged...
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Some Protestants don’t believe Mormons are Christians because they believe in more scripture than the Old and New Testaments.

How are Mormons different than Christians, or other Christians, with regard to their beliefs...
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Mormons do not believe in the Trinity the same way that many Christians do, especially as it is written and interpreted in the Nicene Creed.

According to the Nicene Creed, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit...
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Many Evangelical Christians acknowledge Mormons’ belief in Jesus Christ, however, they still exclude Mormons from being defined as Christians.

When Mormon, Mitt Romney was running for president in 2007 he gave a speech...
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Since Mormonism is not descended from one of the largest branches of Christianity (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant) some Christians say that means Mormons are not Christian.

The substance of this argument is that Mormons are a “new” religion...
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Do Mormons Believe in the authority of the first seven ecumenical councils?

Members of the Mormon Church do not believe in the authority or many...
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Mormons are not descended from the major branches of Christianity.

Some members of the three largest branches of...
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Are Mormons Christians Timeline

1820

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) went to a grove of trees to pray to God about which church he should join. While praying, he reported that he was visited by two beings, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (Joseph Smith-History 1:13-18). Because of this experience and many other revelations Smith would receive, Smith and members of the Mormon faith believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two distinct beings with bodies of flesh and bone. Joseph also said that he received an answer from these beings that he should not join any church presently organized because “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight.” (Joseph Smith-History 1:19)

Biographies

Joseph Smith 1805-1844
Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.
Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng

Christians from all major sects of the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant churches believe in the authority of the first seven ecumenical councils of the Christian Church. An ecumenical council is a worldwide council where theological experts and various church leaders discuss church doctrine and discipline. The first council was held at Nicaea and was called because contradictory teachings began to arise regarding the nature of Jesus Christ in 325 A.D. To resolve these issues the Nicene Creed was written and endorsed by the members of the council. A creed is an official statement of belief. The next two councils at Constantinople (381 A.D.) and Ephesus (431 A.D.) added to and reaffirmed the Nicene Creed. The fourth, fifth, and sixth ecumenical councils were called to clarify beliefs about the nature of Jesus Christ. These beliefs called Nestorianism, Monophysitism, and Monothelitism were refuted by the council. The seventh council defined the veneration and use of icons.

According to some Christians, in order to be called Christian, a person has to affirm the beliefs and authority of the first seven ecumenical councils of Christianity. Since Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do not affirm the authority of, nor many of the doctrines proclaimed by the first seven ecumenical councils, some Christians do not call Mormons Christians.

  • Mormons believe in, and worship God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
  • Mormons believe the world entered a period of apostasy or a period where non-orthodox, even heretical teachings were introduced into Christianity, after the death of Jesus’ apostles.
  • The apostasy lasted from the death of Jesus’ apostles to the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ by Joseph Smith in 1830.
  • Much of the information written and the doctrines pronounced during this period of apostasy, do not contain authoritative doctrine.

1830

March

The first edition of the Book of Mormon was published in Palmyra, New York. The Book of Mormon “is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” The record was “written on gold plates…and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon.” Joseph Smith states that he was told about this record by a heavenly messenger named Moroni, the final prophet from the Book of Mormon. Smith said he received this record and translated it into English. The record also shares the people’s experiences of seeing and learning from Jesus Christ after he was resurrected (3 Nephi 11-28).

Biographies

Joseph Smith 1805-1844
Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.
Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng

In addition to the Bible and Book of Mormon, Mormons also believe that the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are scripture. The Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of revelations received by Joseph Smith and other leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Pearl of Great Price contains revelations received by Joseph Smith, one of which is an elaboration on the biblical Book of Genesis. Other books in the Pearl of Great Price include an inspired translation of the writings of Abraham, an extract from the testimony of Matthew in Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, excerpts from one of Joseph Smith’s histories, and the Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These were submitted to the whole membership of the church as doctrine and canon. They were ratified by the members of the church as such.

There are various opinions and critiques of the Book of Mormon. However, when it comes to the issue of Mormons being Christian, some critics list belief in the Book of Mormon as one that precludes Mormons from being Christian. Many major Protestant churches believe in a theology of sola scriptura. This Latin phrase translates to “scripture alone” and means that the Bible is the sole scripture of the church. Sola scriptura also contains the idea that the Bible holds all the doctrines and practices necessary for salvation. This theological idea was popularized with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Some Protestants assert that Mormons (and members of other denominations, as well) are not Christian because they believe other books, like the Book of Mormon, are scripture and contain doctrines and practices necessary for the worship of Jesus Christ. The scripture that Protestants often use as evidence for the theory of sola scriptura is Revelation 22:18-19 “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

  • It is contradictory to say that the Bible is sufficient for salvation when the seven ecumenical councils wrote creeds that they also say are necessary for salvation.
  • John was only referring to the book of Revelation when he wrote that no one should add or take away from the book. The book of Revelation was circulated as a stand-alone document until the compilation of the Bible. Hundreds of biblical manuscripts were produced in the centuries after Christ was crucified and many of them did not contain the books of the Bible in the order that we have it today. It is illogical to say that John was forbidding people to add to the whole Bible when it did not exist in its current form until hundreds of years later. In addition to this, most scholars would agree that John wrote the Book of Revelation prior to writing his Gospel and his Epistles (Letters of John).
  • An admonition, similar to the one written in Revelation, is written in the book of Deuteronomy, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it…” (Deuteronomy 4:2) Deuteronomy clearly isn’t the final book of the Old Testament, nor the New Testament. Moses, like John, was limiting this admonition and was not saying that no further revelation could be received or written down.
  • Protestants do not say that the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Ethiopian Churches aren’t Christian, while all of them have different canonical scriptures. For example, the Roman Catholic Church includes Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch as scriptural canon. Singling Mormons out as non-Christian because of a belief in more scripture, while accepting other churches as Christian, despite their non-Protestant canon is a logical fallacy.

1838

May, 2024

Joseph Smith prepared a list of questions that he, and other leaders of the Mormon faith, had been asked repeatedly during open meetings (meetings where people who were interested in learning about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught, could listen to the church’s leaders teach). Joseph Smith published these questions, along with answers for each one. The 20th question asked, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion.” The answer that Joseph Smith wrote was: “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.” According to this statement, the most basic precept of Mormonism is that Jesus’ atonement was performed and saved humanity.

Biographies

Joseph Smith 1805-1844
Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.
Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng

    1842

    March 1

    John Wentworth, the editor and owner of a newspaper called The Chicago Democrat, wrote a letter to Joseph Smith. He requested that Joseph provide a history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon faith. Wentworth was requesting this on behalf of a friend, George Barstow, who was writing a history of New Hampshire. In response to Wentworth’s request, Joseph wrote a letter outlining the fundamental beliefs of the church. Among these fundamental beliefs were 13 statements called “The Articles of Faith.” The first of these 13 declarations of belief stated: “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

    Biographies

    Joseph Smith 1805-1844
    Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.
    Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng
    John Wentworth 1815-1888
    John Wentworth was born in Sandwich, New Hampshire on March 5, 1815. While he attended Dartmouth College he taught in schools throughout the state of New Hampshire. After he graduated, he moved west to Chicago. In Chicago Wentworth became very successful. He was the editor and later, the owner of The Chicago Democrat. Wentworth ran for many political offices and was voted into office for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1843-1851, 1853-1855, and 1865-1867. He was mayor of Chicago from 1857-1858 and 1860. He was also the police commissioner of Chicago in 1863. Wentworth died on October 16, 1888, in Chicago.
    Sources: Chicago Public Library, Joseph Smith Papers
    https://www.chipublib.org/mayor-john-wentworth-biography/ https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/john-wentworth
    George Barstow 1812-1883
    George Barstow was born in Haverhill, New Hampshire on June 19, 1812. He attended Dartmouth College and moved to Boston to study law in 1836. While there, he wrote a book entitled The History of New Hampshire, from Its Discovery, in 1614, to the Passage of the Toleration Act, in 1819. While in Massachusetts Barstow ran for multiple political offices, but was never voted into office. Barstow moved from Boston back to New Hampshire, then he moved to New York City and eventually settled in San Francisco. He became a law professor at the University of the Pacific. Barstow was a member of the California House of Representatives from 1861-1862 and in 1878. Barstow died on September 9, 1883, in San Francisco.
    Sources: Join California, Joseph Smith Papers
    http://www.joincalifornia.com/candidate/11087 https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/george-barstow

    George Barstow thought he might include a brief history of the Mormon faith in his book about New Hampshire because the Smith family lived in New Hampshire when Joseph was a small boy. Joseph lived in New Hampshire from about the age of 6-7 to about 9-10. Barstow did not end up using this information in his book. At the first council of Nicaea (the first ecumenical council) and the council at Chalcedon (the fourth ecumenical council), all churches in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and major Protestant traditions affirm as declaring true doctrine, defined the nature of God as the Trinity. In trinitarian doctrine, God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are considered three coequal persons of the same substance, or essence.

    Tied to the objection that Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, cannot be called Christian because they do not believe in the doctrine or authority of creeds and councils, is the objection that Mormons cannot be called Christian because they do not affirm the doctrine of the Trinity, or trinitarianism. Mormons believe that God, the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are all members of the Godhead. All members of the godhead are divine. They are also separate beings. God the Father and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bones, while the Holy Ghost is a spirit being. However, Mormons do not believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are considered three coequal persons of the same substance, or essence, as defined by creeds and councils. For some members of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant faiths, this excludes Mormons from being defined as Christians. Some members of these branches of Christianity even say that Mormons are polytheists because of their belief that all members of the godhead are separate beings.

    • Mormons believe in all three members of the Trinity–that they are Gods and that they are all divine.
    • Mormons do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, as it is written and interpreted in the Nicene Creed. In particular, the idea is that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are considered three coequal persons in the same substance, or essence. Mormons believe that this is not supported by biblical accounts and was written during a period of apostasy.

    1916

    The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church published a doctrinal explanation about the interrelated roles of God the Father and Jesus Christ. This publication is called “The Father and Son” and the leaders explained four things about Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ: 1. God is the literal, genetic father of Jesus Christ. He is also the literal father of the spirits of the human race. 2. Jesus Christ was directed by His Father to create the heavens and the earth. Because of this, Jesus Christ is considered the Father of the Heavens and the Earth. God the Father is considered the Creator because he is the literal father of the spirits of humankind. 3. Jesus Christ is the Father of those who are “born again” and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 4. When God directs Jesus Christ to speak on his behalf, Jesus Christ acts and speaks as the Father.

      1950s-1960s

      In the 1950s and 1960s, the Mormon Church came into greater public view. With more publicity, also came more scrutiny. In 1965, a defrocked minister wrote a book claiming that the Mormon Church was a cult. The Kingdom of the Cults was an extremely popular book, selling over 750,000 copies. Many evangelical Christians had ignored Mormonism before, but after reading that the Mormon Church was a cult, they began to actively speak against the Mormon Church and its members.

      The book The Kingdom of the Cults was written by Walter R. Martin. Martin listed various religions as cults. One of the religions listed is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormon Church. Martin defines a cult as a group of people organized around a specific person–or a specific person’s misinterpretation of the Bible. This book gained wide appeal among Evangelical Christians. It was reprinted many times and the 2003 edition added a coauthor Ravi K. Zacharias.

      • Martin’s definition of a cult is subjective–a definition of his own creation. If this was the true definition of a cult, all of Christianity fits this definition.
      • Jesus, himself, was a charismatic person, from which an entire religion was formed around. The Jews of Jesus’ day disliked His interpretation of the scriptures–viewing it as a misinterpretation.
      • The Protestant movement formed in the exact same manner. A single individual, Martin Luther, interpreted scripture to mean that some of the Roman Catholic church's practices were wrong. The Christian authority of the day was the Roman Catholic Church. They believed Luther’s interpretation to be a misinterpretation of scripture. However, Luther formed an entire religious movement around his interpretation of the Bible.
      • If the author, Martin, uses this definition of a cult to exclude Mormons from the title Christianity and place them under the umbrella of a cult, then Martin has to do the same thing for all Protestants and even all Christians.
      • The dictionary definition of cult says that a cult is a religion that is seen as unorthodox. This definition is entirely dependent on personal belief and perspective. Using this definition, all religions that aren’t your own can be defined as a cult. Singling Mormonism out in this regard is discriminatory.

      2000

      January 1

      To commemorate the 2,000th year of the accepted date of the birth of Jesus Christ, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church wrote a letter. It was published on January 1, 2000. In this letter, they declared the fundamental role of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. They declare the reality of His role as Jehovah and Jesus Christ. They state that Jesus was resurrected and that He lives.

        2004

        November 14

        A gathering of Evangelical Protestant and Mormon ministers, and theologians met in the Tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. The meeting was titled “Evening of Friendship.” One of the Evangelicals in attendance was the editor of The Kingdoms of the Cults, Ravi K. Zacharias.

          2007

          December 6

          While vying for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney gave a speech about his Mormon faith. In the speech, Romney said, “There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.”

          While acknowledging that Mormons, Mitt Romney in particular, believe in Jesus Christ and His divinity, many evangelical Christians do not classify Mormons as Christian. Previous to Mitt Romney’s speech, Evangelical Leader, Richard Land suggested that Mormonism was the “Fourth Abrahamic Religion.” Although an Abrahamic religion, Mormonism was still not considered Christian. After Romney’s speech, popular televangelist Joel Osteen said on CBS that he sees Mitt Romney as “being a believer in Christ like me.” However, he also said that Mormonism is different from Christianity.

          • Mormons acknowledge the right to define Christianity however you choose. However, Mormons maintain that a belief in the divinity and atonement of Jesus Christ should be the criteria for defining Christianity.
          • It is illogical to exclude Mormons from Christianity based on the fact that they have different doctrinal beliefs. This is true of all Christian denominations. If Mormons are excluded from Christianity for this reason, no denomination can be included under the umbrella of Christianity.

          2018

          September - October

          The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on April 6, 1830. However, this was not the official name of the church until April 26, 1838. On that date, Joseph Smith received a revelation that stated the Lord wished his church to be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Doctrine and Covenants 115:3-4). Because Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, early in the church’s history, people, particularly opponents of the church, began calling it the Mormon Church. Its adherents were called Mormons. The name stuck. However, in August and October of 2018, the president of the church, Russel M. Nelson made a statement and (later) gave a talk about using the correct name of the church. In this talk, he stated: “When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the ‘LDS Church,’ the ‘Mormon Church,’ or the ‘Church of the Latter-day Saints,’ the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name…When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement.”

          Biographies

          Joseph Smith 1805-1844
          Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.
          Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
          https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng

          For some members of other Christian denominations, the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not descended from any of the three largest branches of Christianity (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant) means that they are not Christian.

          • At some point, all of the major branches of Christianity were “new” religions. Christianity grew out of Judaism. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy split based on doctrinal differences. Protestantism split from Roman Catholicism, and many other Protestant religions split from the Protestantism defined by Martin Luther. None of these religions are considered non-Christian because of their break with each other, or their doctrinal differences. Mormonism should not be excluded based on this argument, either.

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          1820

          Joseph Smith Has His First Vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ

          Historical Context

          What Critics Are Saying

          Response to Critics View

          Joseph Smith Joseph Smith cancel 1805-1844 Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.

          Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
          https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng
          , the founder of Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) went to a grove of trees to pray to God about which church he should join. While praying, he reported that he was visited by two beings, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (Joseph Smith-History 1:13-18). Because of this experience and many other revelations Smith would receive, Smith and members of the Mormon faith believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two distinct beings with bodies of flesh and bone. Joseph also said that he received an answer from these beings that he should not join any church presently organized because “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight.” (Joseph Smith-History 1:19) info Information Sources: cancel https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1?lang=eng

          Christians from all major sects of the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant churches believe in the authority of the first seven ecumenical councils of the Christian Church. An ecumenical council is a worldwide council where theological experts and various church leaders discuss church doctrine and discipline. The first council was held at Nicaea and was called because contradictory teachings began to arise regarding the nature of Jesus Christ in 325 A.D. To resolve these issues the Nicene Creed was written and endorsed by the members of the council. A creed is an official statement of belief. The next two councils at Constantinople (381 A.D.) and Ephesus (431 A.D.) added to and reaffirmed the Nicene Creed. The fourth, fifth, and sixth ecumenical councils were called to clarify beliefs about the nature of Jesus Christ. These beliefs called Nestorianism, Monophysitism, and Monothelitism were refuted by the council. The seventh council defined the veneration and use of icons. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.saintjohnchurch.org/quick-facts-7-ecumenical-councils/ https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11044a.htm https://www.saintjohnchurch.org/quick-facts-7-ecumenical-councils/

          According to some Christians, in order to be called Christian, a person has to affirm the beliefs and authority of the first seven ecumenical councils of Christianity. Since Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do not affirm the authority of, nor many of the doctrines proclaimed by the first seven ecumenical councils, some Christians do not call Mormons Christians.

          • Mormons believe in, and worship God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
          • Mormons believe the world entered a period of apostasy or a period where non-orthodox, even heretical teachings were introduced into Christianity, after the death of Jesus’ apostles.
          • The apostasy lasted from the death of Jesus’ apostles to the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ by Joseph Smith in 1830.
          • Much of the information written and the doctrines pronounced during this period of apostasy, do not contain authoritative doctrine. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/apostasy?lang=eng

          1830

          The First Edition of the Book of Mormon Is Published

          Historical Context

          What Critics Are Saying

          Response to Critics View

          The first edition of the Book of Mormon was published in Palmyra, New York. The Book of Mormon “is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” The record was “written on gold plates…and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon.” Joseph Smith Joseph Smith cancel 1805-1844 Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.

          Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
          https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng
          states that he was told about this record by a heavenly messenger named Moroni, the final prophet from the Book of Mormon. Smith said he received this record and translated it into English. The record also shares the people’s experiences of seeing and learning from Jesus Christ after he was resurrected (3 Nephi 11-28). info Information Sources: cancel https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/printing-and-publishing-the-book-of-mormon?lang=eng https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/printers-manuscript-of-the-book-of-mormon-circa-august-1829-circa-january-1830/1#source-note

          In addition to the Bible and Book of Mormon, Mormons also believe that the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are scripture. The Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of revelations received by Joseph Smith and other leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Pearl of Great Price contains revelations received by Joseph Smith, one of which is an elaboration on the biblical Book of Genesis. Other books in the Pearl of Great Price include an inspired translation of the writings of Abraham, an extract from the testimony of Matthew in Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, excerpts from one of Joseph Smith’s histories, and the Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These were submitted to the whole membership of the church as doctrine and canon. They were ratified by the members of the church as such. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/site/the-pearl-of-great-price

          There are various opinions and critiques of the Book of Mormon. However, when it comes to the issue of Mormons being Christian, some critics list belief in the Book of Mormon as one that precludes Mormons from being Christian. Many major Protestant churches believe in a theology of sola scriptura. This Latin phrase translates to “scripture alone” and means that the Bible is the sole scripture of the church. Sola scriptura also contains the idea that the Bible holds all the doctrines and practices necessary for salvation. This theological idea was popularized with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Some Protestants assert that Mormons (and members of other denominations, as well) are not Christian because they believe other books, like the Book of Mormon, are scripture and contain doctrines and practices necessary for the worship of Jesus Christ. The scripture that Protestants often use as evidence for the theory of sola scriptura is Revelation 22:18-19 “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

          • It is contradictory to say that the Bible is sufficient for salvation when the seven ecumenical councils wrote creeds that they also say are necessary for salvation.
          • John was only referring to the book of Revelation when he wrote that no one should add or take away from the book. The book of Revelation was circulated as a stand-alone document until the compilation of the Bible. Hundreds of biblical manuscripts were produced in the centuries after Christ was crucified and many of them did not contain the books of the Bible in the order that we have it today. It is illogical to say that John was forbidding people to add to the whole Bible when it did not exist in its current form until hundreds of years later. In addition to this, most scholars would agree that John wrote the Book of Revelation prior to writing his Gospel and his Epistles (Letters of John).
          • An admonition, similar to the one written in Revelation, is written in the book of Deuteronomy, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it…” (Deuteronomy 4:2) Deuteronomy clearly isn’t the final book of the Old Testament, nor the New Testament. Moses, like John, was limiting this admonition and was not saying that no further revelation could be received or written down.
          • Protestants do not say that the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Ethiopian Churches aren’t Christian, while all of them have different canonical scriptures. For example, the Roman Catholic Church includes Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch as scriptural canon. Singling Mormons out as non-Christian because of a belief in more scripture, while accepting other churches as Christian, despite their non-Protestant canon is a logical fallacy.

          1838

          Joseph Smith Publishes a List of Answers to Common Questions About Mormonism

          Historical Context

          What Critics Are Saying

          Response to Critics View

          Joseph Smith Joseph Smith cancel 1805-1844 Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.

          Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
          https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng
          prepared a list of questions that he, and other leaders of the Mormon faith, had been asked repeatedly during open meetings (meetings where people who were interested in learning about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught, could listen to the church’s leaders teach). Joseph Smith published these questions, along with answers for each one. The 20th question asked, “What are the fundamental principles of your religion.” The answer that Joseph Smith wrote was: “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.” According to this statement, the most basic precept of Mormonism is that Jesus’ atonement was performed and saved humanity. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/elders-journal-july-1838/12

            1842

            The Thirteen Articles of Faith Are Published

            Historical Context

            What Critics Are Saying

            Response to Critics View

            John Wentworth John Wentworth cancel 1815-1888 John Wentworth was born in Sandwich, New Hampshire on March 5, 1815. While he attended Dartmouth College he taught in schools throughout the state of New Hampshire. After he graduated, he moved west to Chicago. In Chicago Wentworth became very successful. He was the editor and later, the owner of The Chicago Democrat. Wentworth ran for many political offices and was voted into office for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1843-1851, 1853-1855, and 1865-1867. He was mayor of Chicago from 1857-1858 and 1860. He was also the police commissioner of Chicago in 1863. Wentworth died on October 16, 1888, in Chicago.

            Sources: Chicago Public Library, Joseph Smith Papers
            https://www.chipublib.org/mayor-john-wentworth-biography/ https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/john-wentworth
            , the editor and owner of a newspaper called The Chicago Democrat, wrote a letter to Joseph Smith Joseph Smith cancel 1805-1844 Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.

            Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
            https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng
            . He requested that Joseph provide a history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon faith. Wentworth was requesting this on behalf of a friend, George Barstow George Barstow cancel 1812-1883 George Barstow was born in Haverhill, New Hampshire on June 19, 1812. He attended Dartmouth College and moved to Boston to study law in 1836. While there, he wrote a book entitled The History of New Hampshire, from Its Discovery, in 1614, to the Passage of the Toleration Act, in 1819. While in Massachusetts Barstow ran for multiple political offices, but was never voted into office. Barstow moved from Boston back to New Hampshire, then he moved to New York City and eventually settled in San Francisco. He became a law professor at the University of the Pacific. Barstow was a member of the California House of Representatives from 1861-1862 and in 1878. Barstow died on September 9, 1883, in San Francisco.

            Sources: Join California, Joseph Smith Papers
            http://www.joincalifornia.com/candidate/11087 https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/george-barstow
            , who was writing a history of New Hampshire. In response to Wentworth’s request, Joseph wrote a letter outlining the fundamental beliefs of the church. Among these fundamental beliefs were 13 statements called “The Articles of Faith.” The first of these 13 declarations of belief stated: “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” info Information Sources: cancel https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/comeuntochrist/article/articles-of-faith

            George Barstow thought he might include a brief history of the Mormon faith in his book about New Hampshire because the Smith family lived in New Hampshire when Joseph was a small boy. Joseph lived in New Hampshire from about the age of 6-7 to about 9-10. Barstow did not end up using this information in his book.

            At the first council of Nicaea (the first ecumenical council) and the council at Chalcedon (the fourth ecumenical council), all churches in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and major Protestant traditions affirm as declaring true doctrine, defined the nature of God as the Trinity. In trinitarian doctrine, God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are considered three coequal persons of the same substance, or essence. info Information Sources: cancel https://ensignpeakfoundation.org/west-lebanon-new-hampshire/

            Tied to the objection that Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, cannot be called Christian because they do not believe in the doctrine or authority of creeds and councils, is the objection that Mormons cannot be called Christian because they do not affirm the doctrine of the Trinity, or trinitarianism. Mormons believe that God, the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are all members of the Godhead. All members of the godhead are divine. They are also separate beings. God the Father and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bones, while the Holy Ghost is a spirit being. However, Mormons do not believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are considered three coequal persons of the same substance, or essence, as defined by creeds and councils. For some members of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant faiths, this excludes Mormons from being defined as Christians. Some members of these branches of Christianity even say that Mormons are polytheists because of their belief that all members of the godhead are separate beings.

            • Mormons believe in all three members of the Trinity–that they are Gods and that they are all divine.
            • Mormons do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, as it is written and interpreted in the Nicene Creed. In particular, the idea is that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are considered three coequal persons in the same substance, or essence. Mormons believe that this is not supported by biblical accounts and was written during a period of apostasy.

            1916

            The First Presidency Publishes a Doctrinal Explanation Called “The Father and Son”

            Historical Context

            What Critics Are Saying

            Response to Critics View

            The First Presidency The First Presidency cancel The First Presidency is the highest body of leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has three members: the president or the prophet, the first counselor, and the second counselor. All three are ordained to the priesthood office of apostle. The president always is the longest-serving apostle. He can choose two counselors from among the ordained apostles. The First Presidency works in concert with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as special witnesses of Jesus Christ.

            and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church published a doctrinal explanation about the interrelated roles of God the Father and Jesus Christ. This publication is called “The Father and Son” and the leaders explained four things about Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ: 1. God is the literal, genetic father of Jesus Christ. He is also the literal father of the spirits of the human race. 2. Jesus Christ was directed by His Father to create the heavens and the earth. Because of this, Jesus Christ is considered the Father of the Heavens and the Earth. God the Father is considered the Creator because he is the literal father of the spirits of humankind. 3. Jesus Christ is the Father of those who are “born again” and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 4. When God directs Jesus Christ to speak on his behalf, Jesus Christ acts and speaks as the Father.

              1950s-1960s

              Mormons Begin to Receive More Criticisms From Some Members of the Evangelical Christian Community

              Historical Context

              What Critics Are Saying

              Response to Critics View

              In the 1950s and 1960s, the Mormon Church came into greater public view. With more publicity, also came more scrutiny. In 1965, a defrocked minister wrote a book claiming that the Mormon Church was a cult. The Kingdom of the Cults was an extremely popular book, selling over 750,000 copies. Many evangelical Christians had ignored Mormonism before, but after reading that the Mormon Church was a cult, they began to actively speak against the Mormon Church and its members.

              The book The Kingdom of the Cults was written by Walter R. Martin. Martin listed various religions as cults. One of the religions listed is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormon Church. Martin defines a cult as a group of people organized around a specific person–or a specific person’s misinterpretation of the Bible. This book gained wide appeal among Evangelical Christians. It was reprinted many times and the 2003 edition added a coauthor Ravi K. Zacharias.

              • Martin’s definition of a cult is subjective–a definition of his own creation. If this was the true definition of a cult, all of Christianity fits this definition.
              • Jesus, himself, was a charismatic person, from which an entire religion was formed around. The Jews of Jesus’ day disliked His interpretation of the scriptures–viewing it as a misinterpretation.
              • The Protestant movement formed in the exact same manner. A single individual, Martin Luther, interpreted scripture to mean that some of the Roman Catholic church's practices were wrong. The Christian authority of the day was the Roman Catholic Church. They believed Luther’s interpretation to be a misinterpretation of scripture. However, Luther formed an entire religious movement around his interpretation of the Bible.
              • If the author, Martin, uses this definition of a cult to exclude Mormons from the title Christianity and place them under the umbrella of a cult, then Martin has to do the same thing for all Protestants and even all Christians.
              • The dictionary definition of cult says that a cult is a religion that is seen as unorthodox. This definition is entirely dependent on personal belief and perspective. Using this definition, all religions that aren’t your own can be defined as a cult. Singling Mormonism out in this regard is discriminatory. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15030c.htm

              2000

              The Living Christ Is Published

              Historical Context

              What Critics Are Saying

              Response to Critics View

              To commemorate the 2,000th year of the accepted date of the birth of Jesus Christ, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church wrote a letter. It was published on January 1, 2000. In this letter, they declared the fundamental role of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. They declare the reality of His role as Jehovah and Jesus Christ. They state that Jesus was resurrected and that He lives. info Information Sources: cancel https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/20-years-of-the-living-christ-how-the-first-presidency-and-quorum-of-twelve-continue-to-emphasize-the-savior

                2004

                Evangelicals and Mormons Meet Together in an “Evening of Friendship”

                Historical Context

                What Critics Are Saying

                Response to Critics View

                A gathering of Evangelical Protestant and Mormon ministers, and theologians met in the Tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. The meeting was titled “Evening of Friendship.” One of the Evangelicals in attendance was the editor of The Kingdoms of the Cults, Ravi K. Zacharias. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.thechurchnews.com/2004/11/20/23237407/ravi-zacharias-speaks-in-tabernacle

                  2007

                  Mitt Romney Gives a Speech Entitled, “Faith in America”

                  Historical Context

                  What Critics Are Saying

                  Response to Critics View

                  While vying for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney gave a speech about his Mormon faith. In the speech, Romney said, “There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.” info Information Sources: cancel https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16969460

                  While acknowledging that Mormons, Mitt Romney in particular, believe in Jesus Christ and His divinity, many evangelical Christians do not classify Mormons as Christian.

                  Previous to Mitt Romney’s speech, Evangelical Leader, Richard Land suggested that Mormonism was the “Fourth Abrahamic Religion.” Although an Abrahamic religion, Mormonism was still not considered Christian.

                  After Romney’s speech, popular televangelist Joel Osteen said on CBS that he sees Mitt Romney as “being a believer in Christ like me.” However, he also said that Mormonism is different from Christianity. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.christianpost.com/news/mormonism-the-4th-abrahamic-religion.html

                  • Mormons acknowledge the right to define Christianity however you choose. However, Mormons maintain that a belief in the divinity and atonement of Jesus Christ should be the criteria for defining Christianity.
                  • It is illogical to exclude Mormons from Christianity based on the fact that they have different doctrinal beliefs. This is true of all Christian denominations. If Mormons are excluded from Christianity for this reason, no denomination can be included under the umbrella of Christianity.

                  2018

                  President Russell M. Nelson Encourages the Use of the Proper Name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

                  Historical Context

                  What Critics Are Saying

                  Response to Critics View

                  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on April 6, 1830. However, this was not the official name of the church until April 26, 1838. On that date, Joseph Smith Joseph Smith cancel 1805-1844 Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon and established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the Church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Tragically, Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.

                  Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
                  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-jr?lang=eng
                  received a revelation that stated the Lord wished his church to be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Doctrine and Covenants 115:3-4). Because Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, early in the church’s history, people, particularly opponents of the church, began calling it the Mormon Church. Its adherents were called Mormons. The name stuck. However, in August and October of 2018, the president of the church, Russel M. Nelson made a statement and (later) gave a talk about using the correct name of the church. In this talk, he stated: “When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the ‘LDS Church,’ the ‘Mormon Church,’ or the ‘Church of the Latter-day Saints,’ the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name…When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement.” info Information Sources: cancel https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/10/the-correct-name-of-the-church?lang=eng

                  For some members of other Christian denominations, the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not descended from any of the three largest branches of Christianity (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant) means that they are not Christian.

                  • At some point, all of the major branches of Christianity were “new” religions. Christianity grew out of Judaism. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy split based on doctrinal differences. Protestantism split from Roman Catholicism, and many other Protestant religions split from the Protestantism defined by Martin Luther. None of these religions are considered non-Christian because of their break with each other, or their doctrinal differences. Mormonism should not be excluded based on this argument, either.

                  Timeline

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