Don’t Mormons consider themselves Christians? I mean, as a denomination to Christianity? Perhaps not. They do believe in Christ, though, and that Christ walked the Americas. Most Christians that I have spoken to don’t really consider Mormonism as a denomination of Christianity. Much like the Christian mentality toward Islam, actually. Read my post on The Christian Relationship to Islam. Mormons give credit and credence to Christianity, but the opposite is not true as a general rule.
As I mentioned in the article I wrote (the above link), I have done some comparative religion studies and am very fascinated by their consistencies and their relationships.
I asked the question, “Is Mormonism a legitimate religion?” Is it a legitimate offshoot of Christianity? Is it just as valid as any other denomination? These questions, and those like it, have taken me down an interesting road when it comes to Mormonism.
I won’t pretend to know the dogmas or the tenets of the religion. I really don’t. It isn’t the purpose of this post to critique the religion’s values, but only to assess its supposed claims to validity. And I will be doing so not from a Mormon’s perspectives, but from a Christian’s.
I do know a little about the history and supposed origins of the religion, how it supposedly came to be known by the European Americans. I know that, according to Mormons, the religion was originally delivered to the Americas and its natives by Christ directly. I know that, supposedly, an early American by the name of Joseph Smith found lost, ancient tablets of the teachings and accounts of Christ in the Americas and propagated them as a new American religion.
Critics, of course, and typically Christians and atheists, give the latter half of the story a little more credit; assuming that the religion was merely made up by Joseph Smith and holds no further truth.
I asked the simple question, “does it make sense that it could have happened the way the religion says it did,” and it wasn’t just made up a couple centuries ago? This is what I arrived at:
Suppose for a moment that Mormonism is a farce. Christianity and the word of God therefore never made its way to the Americas. According to Christianity, once Christ died on the cross, the only way to be saved was through knowing and accepting Christ into your heart as the Savior. Okay, I accept that as a foundational tenet of Christianity.
How, then, did all those countless generations of Native Americans, post-Christ, find salvation? In fact, each and every isolated part of the world, whose people were incapable of knowing or yet-educated in the ways of Christianity, were literally un-savable according to modern interpretations of Christianity.
It stands to reason, then, that these many Native Americans are in the Christian hell now. Any and every Native American who died after Christ, but before Christianity was brought to the Americas by the settlers, are in hell simply for not knowing and accepting Christ. This is Christian belief I am talking about, not Mormonism.
A few inquiries stem off of this line of reasoning.
If Native Americans, incapable of knowing Christ, are in hell for not knowing something they could have never known – then is the Christian God a just god? If they are in hell, God is unjust, which contradicts Christian ideology.
If Native Americans, on the other hand, are not in hell even though they never accepted Christ after His crucifixion and resurrection – then knowing and accepting Christ is not the only way into heaven after all! Somehow, through deeds or virtues, spiritual pursuits, accepting and embracing their own religion, or what have you; somehow Native Americans made their way into the Christian heaven. Therefore, accepting Christ is not the one and only way into heaven. But, unfortunately, that too contradicts Christian ideologies.
How then does a just Christian God save the Native Americans from not knowing and not accepting Christ though they completely lacked the ability to know?
To me, based on what I know of Christianity and just Christianity, logic necessitates that a just god would have brought Christ and his teachings to the Native Americans earlier on than the European colonization.
Again, I don’t know anything of Mormonism. But I do know that the Christian God, if he exists at all, is a just and caring god, a fair god, who won’t send those who are born and who die ignorant of Christ to hell. And since all other options seem exhausted, an early arrival of Christ to the Americas and the dogmatic origins of Mormonism seem plausible.
Christianity, indeed, validates Mormonism.
Now, if your rebuttal as a modern-day Christian is that my interpretation of Christianity is too rigid, that it is absurd to be required to put that kind of faith in the man (Christ) himself – that it isnt the only way into heaven after all… then, what are you really telling me?
The more lax and liberal the interpretation, the more open and accepting the religion becomes. If it is indeed true that the ancient natives of America found their way to the Pearly Gates through their own spiritual pursuits and religious endeavors and faiths, through virtue, etcetera, then you are telling me that other religions can and do arrive at the same religious truth – that salvation can be found in any number of way.
This notion may indeed validate even the ancient spiritual pursuits of the Native Americans. But then, is that a rebuttal to my argument that Mormonism is valid? If an ancient Native religion having nothing to do with Christ can be a basis to find salvation, then why not Mormonism, too?
Of course, within this post I have made the assumption that Christianity is valid by default. I, as always, welcome insightful and rational feedback.