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by Stephen E. Robinson

Surely by now it will have dawned on the discerning reader that of all the various arguments against Latter-day Saints being considered Christians, not one--not a single one--claims that Latter-day Saints don't acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. Consider the enormous implications of this fact. The only issue that really matters is the only issue that is carefully avoided! Picture for a moment two men arguing in front of a policeman over the contents of a box. The first man insists that his wallet, stolen by the second, is inside the box. The second man insists that the box he holds is empty and presents the officer with dozens of arguments to prove it, arguments based on everything from average wind speed at the vernal equinox to the specific gravity of applesauce. But whenever he is asked to open the box, he changes the subject with additional arguments for its being empty--all the while keeping the lid securely shut.

When the charge is made that "Mormons aren't Christians," the very first impression created in the mind of the average individual is that Latter-day Saints don't believe in Jesus Christ. Most often those who make this charge intend that their uninformed hearers or readers will get this impression. Yet in the arguments offered to support the assertion the only issue that really matters is never even raised: Do the Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ? Do they accept him as Lord? Do they believe that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man cometh unto the Father but by him? These crucial questions are never asked. And why aren't they? Because these critics of the Latter-day Saints know that to open the box is to lose the argument, for no one who is even remotely familiar with the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints- not even their most hostile critics- can deny the Latter-day Saints' belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as the Savior of the world, and as the only source of salvation available to human beings. 1

As Joseph Smith said in the very first LDS article of faith, "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost." This is amplified in the fourth article of faith by the assertion that of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, the very first is "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."

In fact Latter-day Saints go to church every Sunday with but one major purpose:

It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus;

And the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this manner shall he administer it--he shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying:

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. {D&C 20:75-77.) (See Sacrament Prayers)

This is done in every LDS meeting house practically every Sunday of the year.2 The main purpose, the central focus of LDS Sunday services is to renew our faith in and our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This is not a pretense or a sham; it is at the heart of what we do as Latter-day Saints.

Nor do the LDS scriptures teach anything about Christ that the rest of the Christian world would find offensive. I have frequently asked non-LDS critics exactly which Book of Mormon teachings about Jesus Christ they disagreed with. Invariably the response has been that it isn't what the Book of Mormon says or teaches per se that is offensive--it is the Book of Mormon itself that is offensive.

The objective observer will notice that in most cases anti-Mormons hate the LDS scriptures generically, without knowing or caring what those scriptures actually teach about Christ, simply because Latter-day Saints dare to call them "scriptures." You see, it isn't really the LDS doctrine of Christ that is objectionable; rather it is the claim that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is God's word. If Joseph had never claimed to be a prophet and if he had advertised the Book of Mormon as merely his own scriptural commentary, like those of Calvin and Luther, instead of claiming it to be scripture, the Book of Mormon doctrine of Christ would have been considered quite unobjectionable by contemporary standards.

In fact, to use the terminology of biblical scholars, the Latter-day Saints have a very high Christology. That is, for the Latter-day Saints Jesus is not merely a good man, a teacher, or even a prophet; he is not merely a human being; he is not the son of Joseph and Mary who later became God's Son. In common with other Bible-oriented Christians, the Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus is the pre-existent Word of the Father who became the literal, physical, genetic Son of God. As the pre-existent Word he was the agent of the Father in the creation of all things. As the glorified Son he is the agent of the Father in the salvation of all humanity. We believe he was conceived of a virgin by the power of the Holy Ghost. We believe he led a sinless life, that he was morally and ethically perfect, that he healed the sick and raised the dead, that he walked on the water and multiplied the loaves and the fishes. We believe he set a perfect example for human beings to imitate and that humans have an obligation to follow his example in all things. Most important of all, we believe that he suffered and died on the cross as a volunteer sacrifice for humanity in order to bring about an atonement through the shedding of his blood. We believe that he was physically resurrected and that he ascended into the heavens, from which he will come at the end of this world to establish his kingdom upon the earth and eventually to judge both the living and the dead. 3

Finally, it is to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that the Book of Mormon as scripture and that Joseph Smith as a prophet bear witness. The title page of the Book of Mormon states that the book was written "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." The Prophet Joseph Smith, together with Sidney Rigdon, bore the following witness as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants:

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father--

That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. (D&C 76:22-24.)

In our own generation, less than two weeks before his death in 1985, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, one of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church, offered the following testimony of Jesus:

And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God --I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God's Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.

God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son will cleanse us from all sin. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. 4 (See Elder McConkie's full discourse in Teachings About Jesus Christ)

To these scriptural and prophetic witnesses I add my own humble affirmation. Though all the world may say that Latter-day Saints do not know or love or worship Jesus Christ, I know that we do, and if this is not the issue in question, or if this is not enough to be counted a Christian, then the word has lost its meaning.

(Are Mormons Christians? home page)


1. This necessarily assumes the intellectual honesty of the critics. The exceptions, of course, are those who employ the exclusion by misrepresentation- and their numbers are not small.

2. The only exceptions are those Sundays when stake or general conferences are held.

3. In fact, if allowed to define the phrase "holy catholic church" nondenominationally, as Protestants do, there is no doctrinal reason why Latter-day Saints could not affirm the traditional Apostles' Creed, of which the preceding propositions in the text are a paraphrase.

4. Bruce R. McConkie, "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane," Ensign 15 (May 1985): 11.