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DON GRAYSTON, Deseret News Archives
Visitors on a tour of the North Visitors Center at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Editor’s note: This column draws on contents from the forthcoming book “Are Christians Mormon?” by David L. Paulsen and Hal R. Boyd, published by Routledge press.
Outsiders have often asked whether Mormons are Christian.
Given contemporary trends in Christian theology, however, it’s now worth asking, albeit half-humorously, whether Christians are Mormon.
Since the beginning of the LDS Church, Christendom’s catechists have largely dismissed LDS teachings as heretical. Yet in recent decades, Christians of all stripes have espoused — on both biblical and philosophical grounds — theological positions that were once considered distinctly Mormon.
Doctrines such as spiritual gifts, a social view of the Godhead, deification, post-mortal evangelization, divine embodiment and continuing revelation are just a few of the teachings once thought anathema that are now championed by an ever-expanding coterie of Christian thinkers.
Take, for example, the Latter-day Saint doctrine of the trinity or Godhead. LDS Church Apostle James E. Talmage distilled Mormon teachings on the subject as follows: “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are as distinct in their persons. Yet their unity of purpose and operation is such as to make their edicts one, and their will the will of God.”
This formulation has excited charges of Tritheism.
Neither the United Methodist Church nor the Catholic Church, for example, accept Mormon baptisms as valid in part because, in their opinion, it does not involve “a true invocation of the Trinity.”