Monday, August 8, 2011

"Mormon" and "Christian" Are Different

Some say that the LDS Church is hypocritical when claiming the "Christian" title despite others' refusal to grant it to us and, at the same time, separating ourselves from other groups (such as the FLDS) who call themselves "Mormon."

Although I don't begrudge the title of "Mormon" to anyone who believes in the Book of Mormon as scripture, I do want to point out that the difference in labeling is not as inconsistent as it seems. It all has to do with connotative meaning. The label "Christian" has been around for about two thousand years. It has weathered many splinter groups of Christians, and has a healthy history of being applicable to many different groups.

"Mormon," on the other hand, is only a few hundred years old, and is generally used to mean one particular group, namely the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I don't mind if anyone who believes in the Book of Mormon calls themselves "Mormon" if they like. But I do have a problem with someone telling me I am a polygamous wife simply because I am a Mormon. Just like I have a problem with people telling me I have to believe in the Nicene creed simply because I call myself a Christian.


  1. True. I think there is an important difference in the way the terms are used. Is there a particular conversation or event that prompted this post?

  2. It was an offhand comment on the polygamy post on JI. It just got me realizing how much I've heard it lately.

  3. Perhaps others have called it hypocritical, but to be fair Ben Park used the words deeply ironic. I can see both your point and deep irony. But I error on the side of allowing people to choose for themselves what they will be called. Especially if they have a valid historic claim.

  4. I admit that I don't see the irony. The Church doesn't tell other groups they can't call themselves Mormon, it is trying to clarify what being a Mormon—in the sense of a member of the LDS Church—means. There is a difference.

  5. So, are Universalists not Christian for rejecting the Nicene Creed, for example?

    Finger pointing can backfire.


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