Mormonism Explained: Are Mormons Christians?

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

If you are Mormon, it might seem odd to you that many people ask, are Mormons Christians? You might think, of course, I’m a Christian–I believe Jesus Christ is my Savior. If you are not Mormon, it might seem odd to you that many people ask, are Mormon Christians? You might think, of course, Mormons aren’t Christians because their definition of the Trinity is different, or they believe in more scripture than just the Bible, or for any number of other reasons. Essentially, whether or not Mormons are Christians depends on your definition of what a Christian believes and what Christianity is.

If your definition of a Christian is someone who believes in the divinity and saving mission of Jesus Christ, then Mormons are indeed, Christians. If your definition of a Christian is someone who believes in the creeds and councils of the early Christian Church, or a multitude of other historical and doctrinal beliefs, then Mormons aren’t Christians. 

The Trinity

One of the first, and major arguments against Mormons qualifying for the title of Christians, is that Mormons do not define the Trinity the same way that other Christians do. Nor do they believe in the authority or all of the doctrines defined by the early Christian ecumenical councils. So, how do Mormons and other Christians define the Trinity? And is Mormonism Christian if they define the Trinity differently from other Christians?

Mormons “believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” They call this group the Godhead. Rarely, if ever, do Mormons refer to them as the Trinity. Mormons believe that “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” Essentially, they are three distinct beings, but they “are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission… filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption.”

The definition of the Trinity, believed by the major branches of Christianity was written in 325 AD, at the Council of Nicaea. The Council of Nicaea was called by the Emperor Constantine. At the time, there were many different types of Christians: Gnostic Christians, Marcionite Christians, Arians, Donatists, and many others. Constantine sought to eliminate divisions within Christianity, particularly doctrinal divisions for the safety and unification of his empire. One significant debate was taking place in Alexandria over the nature of God. An Egyptian priest named Arius was preaching that Jesus Christ was subordinate to the Father and was created as the offspring of the Father. The Council of Nicaea was called to determine if what Arius was teaching was true. The council included as many worldwide, Christian leaders as possible. Of course, Mormons, or Latter-day Saints, did not exist at this period.

The Council of Nicaea concluded that Arius’ teachings would not be considered Christian doctrine–the Son was not subordinate but equal to the Father. Neither the Son nor the Father were created or made. The council wrote a creed that declared the nature of God the Father and God the Son using the Greek word, “homoousios.” This word is difficult to translate into English, but it is usually translated into the phrase “of one substance” or “of the same substance,” meaning the Father and Son are one substance or essence. In 381 AD, another council was called at Constantinople. This council added the Holy Spirit to the Nicene Creed, saying that the Spirit proceeded from the Father. The nature of the Trinity would be the subject of the next four worldwide councils. 

Although Mormons believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are both eternal beings, they believe that the Father has a physical body and that the physical body of Jesus Christ was made. They believe that the Holy Spirit is also eternal and has a spirit body. They believe the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are Gods, unified in purpose. Therefore, they do not believe in the traditional Christian definition of the Trinity. Mormonism explained offers further insight into this issue.

Christian Religions

Mormons believe that after the death of Christ’s eleven apostles, the Christian Church entered a period of doctrinal apostasy or a period of heresy. They believe this period of apostasy ended when Joseph Smith was called by God as a prophet and founded the restored Church of Jesus Christ, which God named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

This lineage is another reason that many Christians do not believe Mormons are Christians. Most Christian Churches believe in apostolic succession, the unbroken lineage of authority passed down from Christ to the apostles and through the church hierarchy. They see the early Christian communities as the foundation of Christianity, from which grew Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and then Protestant religions. 

For Mormons, this perspective fails to account for the fact that each major branch of Christianity has its origins in doctrinal disagreements and schisms, underscoring the complexity of defining what it means to be Christian. For example, two of the major arguments that caused the schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism center around the Trinity and apostolic succession. The leaders of Eastern Orthodoxy did not accept a change made to the Nicene Creed first in 589 AD and then standardized in the 11th century. The original text of the creed stated that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father, but this was changed to say the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son. Leaders of Eastern Orthodoxy did not agree with the addition of the phrase “and the Son.” They also refused to accept the argument by Roman Catholic leaders that the Bishop of Rome was the apostolic successor to Peter. These two major issues caused a schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. If the Trinity and apostolic succession are issues that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church fundamentally disagree about, then why are Mormons not Christians because of their disparate beliefs about these topics?


The Mormon belief in an open scriptural canon also sets them apart from other Christian denominations. In addition to the Bible, Mormons accept the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price as scripture, and are open to further revelation. This is a fundamental departure from the principle of sola scriptura, a Protestant doctrine that asserts the Bible is the only inspired word of God and holds all of the doctrines necessary for salvation.

To support the doctrine of sola scriptura, Protestants use two verses of scripture in Revelation 22:18-19, “…If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues…And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life…” The argument is that John declared, in the final book of the Bible, that no one should add or take away from the Bible. 

There are historical issues with this argument. First, the Book of Revelation was not the final book in the Bible until hundreds of years after it was written. It circulated as a stand-alone document and when the Bible was finally compiled, the order of the books within it was not set, which means the Book of Revelation was not always the final book of the Bible. Mormons believe John’s council to not add or take away from these writings applies solely to the Book of Revelation and does not put Christianity vs Mormonism at odds. They cite Deuteronomy 4:2 to support this interpretation because of its strikingly similar admonition, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it…” Deuteronomy clearly is not the last book of the Bible, so the council must be limited to the Book of Deuteronomy, alone. 

Additionally, most Protestant denominations also affirm the authority of the ecumenical councils, something deemed necessary because early Christian leaders did not agree about what Bible taught about the nature of God. Finally, many other Christian denominations add more books to the biblical canon than Protestants. Yet, they are not subject to the same scrutiny as Mormons. This double standard calls into question the validity of using sola scriptura as an argument to exclude Mormons from the Christian label.


The definition of what a Christian believes varies greatly from one church or denomination to another. Mormons believe that a belief in the divinity and saving power of Jesus Christ should be the criteria for being considered a Christian. Other Christian religions believe that an affirmation of the Trinity, as defined by the Nicene Creed, should be the requirement to be called a Christian, others believe that a religion that stems from the three major branches of Christianity (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Protestant) is a necessary characteristic of being called Christian, while some Protestants believe that affirming the Bible is the only word of God is necessary to be labeled a Christian. So, are Mormons Christians? Well, that depends on your definition.

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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