What of the
Editor's Note: We are trying to nurture people we know to become ready to be taught by the missionaries. Member-nurtured referrals often become the best investigators. As we do this, We find there are questions for which we don't have anything written. So I wrote Why and How We Pray, this and other things. Some are posted in both Japanese and English on the Church website in Japan under the menu header 伝道 on the upper right. www.ldschurch.jp
Are Mormons Christians?
Some who call themselves Christians say that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also called Mormons or Latter-day Saints) are not Christians. By this it seems they mean that Mormons are not traditional Christians who take their doctrines from the 4th Century Church Councils including the first one in Nicaea in 325. This is true. Mormons believe only God can define true Christian doctrine. It cannot be decided by men as it was at Nicaea under the direction of the Roman Emperor Constantine.
However, if the definition of Christian is “one who follows Jesus Christ,” members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are definitely Christian. In fact, the basic message of the LDS Church is that it claims to be the re-established original Christian Church. Simply stated, they believe Christ organized a Church, men changed it, but it has been brought back. It is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
There are approximately 38,000 Christian denominations in the world. This statistic takes into consideration cultural distinctions of denominations in different countries. Total Christian membership is over 2 billion members, about one-third of the world population. Source: About.com April 2011
The major (Christian) denominations in the world are: The Roman Catholic Church with more than a billion followers constituting about half of the world's Christian population. Approximately 225 million people worldwide are Orthodox Christians. Protestant churches have approximately 500 million members. Source: About.com, April 2011
In Japan, according to a September 2010 Diamond Magazine article, there are 1,887,836 members of Christian churches in Japan in 118 organizations registered as Christian religions. The largest is the Unification Church with 560,000 adherents. Next is the Catholic Church with over 450,000 adherents. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days is the 5th largest Christian Church in Japan, with over 123,000 members. It also is the 73rd largest religious organization in Japan.
If there is only one Jesus Christ, why are there so many Christian religions in the world? If they are all different in some way, how can an honest seeker know which to join? This was the dilemma of young Joseph Smith in 1820 which led to him to ask of God who, according to James in the Bible, invites us to ask him about such things. What happened when Joseph Smith prayed and received his answer is the story of the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
How does the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ differ from most other Christian religions? Here are some of the distinguishing doctrines:
1. All people are children of God the Father. He loves all of His children equally.
2. We all lived with God as His Spirit children before we came to earth.
3. God organized this earth for his children to come, gain a body, and learn and grow.
4. From the time of Adam and Eve God has provided an organization to teach His children what is good and true.
5. He provides a way for everyone to hear his word. Those who did not hear it while alive on earth will have the opportunity in the next world. Only the knowingly rebellious will be assigned to hell.
6. God speaks to His children through their consciences.
7. God entrusts His authority to act for Him to men. They are the leaders of His Church.
8. God respects the right to choose of everyone on this earth.
9. God has provided additional scriptures for his children including the Book of Mormon.
10. God wants all of his children to grow in goodness for the benefit of all people on the earth.
As we consider matters of eternal consequence, it is important for us to pray and learn directly from God who loves us perfectly and knows all things. He will not lead us astray. If we ask with a sincere heart and real intent, He is willing to teach us the truth of all things. Much of this teaching comes through His Church. Please seek and find those who are his true messengers.