For centuries people have been striving to follow Christ, ever since His mortal ministry on earth. Even before He came to earth, prophets testified of Him, and people believed in Him. Since His death and the death of His apostles, people all across the world identify themselves as Christian: someone who believes in Jesus Christ and follows His teachings.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes mistakenly called the Mormon Church, I am also a Christian, the same as members of other Christian faiths such as Baptists or Methodists or Lutherans. I believe in Jesus Christ and strive to follow His teachings. Elder Robert D. Hales, an apostle and leader of The Church of Jesus Christ, explains what it means to be a Christian:
A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the literal Son of God, sent by His Father to suffer for our sins in the supreme act of love we know as the Atonement. A Christian believes that through the grace of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, we can repent, forgive others, keep the commandments, and inherit eternal life. The word Christian denotes taking upon us the name of Christ (“Being a More Christian Christian,” Ensign November 2012).
Elder Hales explains what Mormons believe, and what much of the world believes, it means to be a Christian. At the core of being a Christian is belief and faith in Jesus Christ. Then, because of that faith, Christians are motivated to action, striving to do what the Savior would do.
“Fruits” of The Church of Jesus Christ
In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount. Here, he instructs the people to “beware of false prophets,” but tells them that they can “know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ, the Mormons, have much “fruit” that shows we are indeed Christians.
One is the name of the Church itself. The Church is called after Jesus’ name, meaning it is His Church. The Church of Jesus Christ’s logo emphasizes the name of the Savior larger than any of the other words, showing that we believe in and follow Christ in all things. This logo can be seen on all of the Church’s official websites, Church meetinghouses, and on the nametags of the Mormon missionaries who work to bring others to Christ.
Another is the Book of Mormon, an ancient book of scripture similar to the Bible. The full name of the book is The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. On the title page, Moroni, one of the prophets and writers of the Book of Mormon, explains the chief purpose of the book: “And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” The Book of Mormon is the place where Mormons get our nickname, but its chief purpose is to testify of Christ and to bring all people everywhere to Him.
Another “fruit” can be found in the most recent General Conference, a twice-yearly event when prophets and apostles speak the words of the Lord to the members of His church. In any given conference, there are numerous talks about the Savior, how to follow His example, His Atonement, and testimonies from prophets that He is the Savior of the world. Talks from General Conference can be found at lds.org/general-conference.
Disciples of Christ
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, another apostle and leader of The Church of Jesus Christ, helps to explain what it really means to follow the Savior: “Following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places” (“Followers of Christ,” Ensign May 2013). Being a Christian is more than a casual commitment; it is a big deal, and is something that we have to strive to do every day.
However, nobody is perfect. As mortals, we all make mistakes, and sometimes do not act as Christ-like as we should. Anyone can probably think of numerous examples of people who profess to be Christian acting in a way that the Savior never would have. But that’s not the point. The point is that Mormons, and members of all other Christian faiths, are striving every day to be more like the Savior. When we try each day to be a more Christian Christian, we are coming closer to being the kind of people Jesus instructed us to be in the Sermon on the Mount. Maybe sometimes we mess up, and do something that Jesus would not condone. However, we are all striving to be more like He is, because of our belief and faith in Him.
What Makes Mormons Different
As Christians, Mormons have a lot in common with many other faiths. Elder Gary Coleman, a leader in the church who joined the Church of Jesus Christ when he was in college, explains what makes Mormon beliefs different than other Christians’ beliefs. He highlights the three doctrines that appealed most to him when he was investigating the Church of Jesus Christ: the nature of the Godhead, the reality of additional scripture and revelation, and the restoration of priesthood authority.
- The nature of the Godhead. Many Christian traditions believe in the Trinity. Latter-day Saints believe that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate Beings. We believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have resurrected bodies of flesh and bone, and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. We also believe that Jesus Christ is the literal son of Heavenly Father.
- Additional scripture and revelation. Latter-day Saints believe that God has not stopped speaking to His children. We believe in the additional scripture of the Book of Mormon, a book of ancient scripture similar to the Bible that was translated by Joseph Smith. We also believe that prophets communicate with God and speak His words to us.
- Priesthood authority. Latter-day Saints believe that priesthood authority, or the power to act in God’s name, was taken from the earth when Jesus’ original twelve apostles died. We believe that this priesthood was restored to the earth by John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John. Having proper authority to act in God’s name is very important, and Latter-day Saints believe that this authority has been restored.
Elder Coleman says, “As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you are a Christian, and I am too. I am a devout Christian who is exceedingly fortunate to have greater knowledge of the true doctrine of Christ. . . These truths define this Church as having the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (“Mom, Are We Christians?” Ensign May 2007).
As Elder Coleman well explains, Mormons are Christians. We believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. We believe that the plain and precious truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ were corrupted after the Savior and His apostles’ death, and were restored to the earth again. We strive to follow Jesus Christ in all we do, and to take the joy of His gospel to all the world. A verse from the Book of Mormon explains: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ” (2 Nephi 25:26). We, like members of other faiths, strive to follow the Savior in all we do and say.
Megan is a graduate of BYU-Idaho and recently married member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is a writer and avid reader, and loves music, hiking, and her family.