Are Mormons Christian?
Mormons (the nickname sometimes applied to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have a list of thirteen articles of faith compiled by Joseph Smith to outline some of the Mormon beliefs. The first one says, “We believe in God the Eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”
That and the real name of the church demonstrate this is a Christ-centered church. However, some people have attempted to add extra-biblical requirements for being a Christian. The Bible itself does not contain a list and in fact, the word Christian is used only three times, always in ways that suggest it is a term non-Christians used to refer to Christians and never in terms of specific doctrine. The Bible says we must love Jesus Christ and keep the commandments, but it does not outline specific beliefs a Christian must have. In fact, the Bible spends far more time on behavior than on belief. When a young man asked Jesus what he had to do to be saved, Jesus did not include the trinity (a word not found in the Bible), but instead listed the commandments the young man needed to keep:
16 ¶And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
When Paul was asked what a person had to do to be saved, his answer was even simpler:
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:30-31).
So we have some guidelines for being saved, but not specifically for being a Christian. However, we can presume a person who is saved is also a Christian.
Mormons believe that only God can read the contents of our heart and to know whether or not we really believe in and love Jesus Christ. This, to a Mormon, is the definition of a Christian—one who believes in, loves, and models his life after Jesus Christ. However, Mormons believe only God can truly judge this and only God has a right to do so. The Pharisees were often rebuked to trying to judge others in this context. Mormons, then, do not determine who is Christian and who is not except to accept the person’s own statement. Mormons allow others to self-identify and expect to receive the same courtesy in return, leaving the final judgment to God, where it belongs. If you tell a Mormon you are Christian, he will believe you.
Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten and Beloved Son of God. He is our Creator. He is the Light of the World. He is our Savior from sin and death. This is the most important knowledge on earth, and you can know this for yourself, as I know it for myself. The Holy Ghost, who testifies of the Father and the Son and leads us into truth, has revealed these truths to me, and He will reveal them to you. (See Teachings of Jesus by Dallin H. Oaks, Nov. 2011. Elder Oaks is a Mormon apostle.)
The answer, then, is that yes, Mormons are Christian. They believe in Jesus Christ. They accept Him as their Savior and redeemer and the only path to redemption and eternal life. When they are baptized, they take on themselves the name of Jesus Christ and covenant (promise) to live a Christ-like and Christ-centered life. This is Christianity in its purest form. Christianity is not about subscribing to a random set of beliefs, but about making Jesus Christ the center of your life.