Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Are the Latter-day Saints -- who face growing rejection -- Christians?
Ft Worth TX Star-Telegram (Arizona Republic) 5May00 N1
By Maureen Jenkins: The Arizona Republic
PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- With The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints becoming one of the world's fastest-growing religions, Mormons
are under close scrutiny by other faiths and are currently being
asked the question, "Are you Christians?" Mormons are no strangers to
persecution and a closer look reveals the quintessential American
Today the Mormon church boasts a membership of 10.3 million members, with
more than half living outside the United States. One-sixth of its members
live in Utah, where the church headquarters are located. Current prophet,
Gordon B. Hinckley, whose recently published book, 'Standing for Something:
10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes' espouses many of
the beliefs held in the church. Yet, the heart of the issue of who is a
Christian lies in matters of doctrine and theology.
This year a Christian festival was held in Phoenix and attracted 35,000
people from the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox congregations. The
Mormons were conspicuously absent, they were not invited. Evangelicals say
that Mormons aren't Christian because of the way the Evangelicals interpret
"The Mormon church is neither Catholic nor Protestant," says Phoenix-are
church spokesman Wilford Andersen. "It's no less Christian."
"I think people understand we can respectfully disagree on matters of
Christian doctrine," Andersen said, "but should never disagree on Christian
conduct. "There certainly are some [churches] who find it difficult to work
together with us, and I respect that as long as we don't have ill will
toward each other and as long as we don't have misinformation."
Richard N. Ostling, co-author with his wife of 'Mormon America: The Power
and the Promise' believes that the Mormon church has a "sweeping policy of
secrecy" that contributes to it being misunderstood. He claims that
weddings held in temples and the disallowance of internet publishing of the
church's governing documents are off limits to outsiders. "Any time you
have this situation, it creates rumors, speculations, misinformation," said
Ostling. "There is room for a lot of confusion."
"Most of the disagreement is doctrinal," Ostling said. "The fundamental
issues between Mormonism and tradional Christianity are the nature of God,
the doctrine of Christ, the Bible's authority, and the doctrine of humanity
and relating to God."
In an attempt to examine the commonalities and the differences between the
groups, Professors Craig L. Blomberg of Denver Seminary and Stephen E.
Robinson of BYU wrote the 1997 book, 'How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an
Evangelical in Conversation.'
Maria Cornwall, a sociology professor at BYU believes the animosity exists
because "we share the same niche." "If you can use that marketplace
language, both evangelicals and Mormons share the same target: the
unchurched," she said. "We can compete in the marketplace of religion, and
evangelicals want to make sure their targets realize Mormons are different."